An angry wind in the half-furled shrouds
    Laughed loud with a fiendish glee
And a pitying moon through the storm rent clouds
    Looked down on a surging sea.

Slowly but surely the huge ship keeled
    So slow that the iron tongue
Of the deck bell struck that one deep note pealed
    Then motionless, voiceless, hung.

A downward plunge like a wounded whale
    All sudden, unseen, scarce a scream,
Only the voice of the growling gale
    And the snort of the wave-choked steam.

A moment fraught with the bitterest throes
    Of death neath the ravenous wave
Another, five hundred spirits arose
    Each, from its watery grave.

One plunge, and five hundred mothers were left
    To weep for five hundred sons,
And a navy, queen of the seas was reft,
    Of her loudest thundering guns.

The sailor lad dreamed, as he swung in his sleep
    Of his home and his mother’s love
And he finished the dream ’twixt the restless deep
    And the shuddering stars above.

Down went the ship with her ghastly freight
    To the depths of a darker night
Nothing to show of her fearful fate
    But the loss of a lantern light.

Fathom on fathom, the huge hulk sank
    Like a guilty thing, while a sail
Or a splintered bar or a parted plank
    Sped up with its terrible tale.

Fathom on fathom, a shivering shock
    The snap of an iron mast
A clanging on chains on a wave worn rock
    And the dead are at rest at last.

There though all else be convulsed betide
    Pent up in their iron tomb
They’ll sleep side by side whatever betide
    In peace till the call of doom.

No yew trees shadow their bones as they lie
    But giant sea-ferns instead
And the finny sea monsters gather to pry
    Unscared at the fresh-come dead.

They fell not in fight, fury-flushed with the din
    Of the glorious battle cry
They heard but the roar as the waves rushed in
    And death was their victory.

Weep England, weep, thou mayest labour give
    Fresh voice to far greater guns
But never again to thy need will hie
    The least of thy silent sons.

[HMS Captain sank on 7 September 1870 due to faults in its design and construction that made it unstable.  Almost 500 men were lost.  Hardwicke composed this poem on hearing the news.  It is one of his unpublished early poems and can be found in the Notebook RR/1/7 in the Rawnsley Archives.]