“Canción of the Pirate” by José de Espronceda

Glory in boldness and liberty seized.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Canción of the Pirate”

José de Espronceda

translated from the Spanish by James Kennedy

The breeze fair aft, all sails on high,
Ten guns on each side mounted seen,
She does not cut the sea, but fly,
A swiftly sailing brigantine;
A pirate bark, the “Dreaded” named,
For her surpassing boldness famed,
On every sea well-known and shore,
From side to side their boundaries o’er.
The moon in streaks the waves illumes
Hoarse groans the wind the rigging through;
In gentle motion raised assumes
The sea a silvery shade with blue;
Whilst singing gaily on the poop
The pirate Captain, in a group,
Sees Europe here, there Asia lies,
And Stamboul in the front arise.

“Sail on, my swift one! nothing fear;
Nor calm, nor storm, nor foeman’s force,
Shall make thee yield in thy career
Or turn thee from thy course.
Despite the English cruisers fleet
We have full twenty prizes made;
And see their flags beneath my feet
A hundred nations laid.
My treasure is my gallant bark,
My only God is liberty;
My law is might, the wind my mark,
My country is the sea.

“There blindly kings fierce wars maintain,
For palms of land, when here I hold
As mine, whose power no laws restrain,
Whate’er the seas infold.
Nor is there shore around whate’er,
Or banner proud, but of my might
Is taught the valorous proofs to bear,
And made to feel my right.
My treasure is my gallant bark,
My only God is liberty;
My law is might, the wind my mark,
My country is the sea.

“Look when a ship our signals ring,
Full sail to fly how quick she’s veered!
For of the sea I am king,
My fury’s to be feared;
But equally with all I share
Whate’er the wealth we take supplies;
I only seek the matchless fair,
My portion of the prize.
My treasure is my gallant bark,
My only God is liberty;
My law is might, the wind my mark,
My country is the sea.

“I am condemned to die!—I laugh;
For, if my fates are kindly sped,
My doomer from his own ship’s staff
Perhaps I’ll hang instead.
And if I fall, why what is life?
For lost I gave it then as due,
When from slavery’s yoke in strife
A rover! I withdrew.
My treasure is my gallant bark;
My only God is liberty;
My law is might, the wind my mark,
My country is the sea.

“My music is the Northwind’s roar;
The noise when round the cable runs,
The bellowings of the Black Sea’s shore,
And rolling of my guns.
And as the thunders loudly sound,
And furious the tempests rave,
I calmly rest in sleep profound,
So rocked upon the wave.
My treasure is my gallant bark,
My only God is liberty;
My law is might, the wind my mark,
My country is the sea.”

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