The Wreck of the Rosebud

(A Ballad of the Sea)

In memory of my grandfather, Captain James D. Raitt

by Robert Becker Baldwin (1914-1938)

Great waves were rolling mountain high

Upon the bleak North Sea;

For days and days the storm had raged

And howled in horrid glee.

A gallant ship was locked in the grip

Of the fiercely raging gale

And her valiant crew was fighting, true

To the code of sea and sail.

The name "Rose Bud" was on her hull

In letters large and white,

And waves came crashing on her deck

To try the "Rose Bud's" might.

A brigantine, and stout in beam

To bear the ocean's might;

Small care had she for the raging sea

And waves all capped with white.

For many a day this ship so gay

Had fled like a frightened ghost,

And the grim-faced crew now caught a view

Of Norway's rocky coast.

The ship swept on to certain doom

Before the gale's breath,

And on her deck each human speck

Was calmly facing death.

Her gallant captain was a Scot

Well-known both far and wide'

He had fought all night with all his might

'gainst wind and wave and tide.

Of a family old of sailors bold

A fearless man was he;

And long had he lived a sailor's life

Upon the boundless sea.

But crew and captain fought in vain

Against the fearful tide,

For she struck a rock with a rending shock

That opened up her side.

"Man the boats, you Billy goats!"

The captain loudly cried,

And swift the ship was settling down

As boats went over side.

But the waves were high, and the wind howled by

With strong and awful might;

And skies o'er head were grey as lead

While rocks were black as night.

And all the masts came crashing past

"Till one alone remained;

And boats were smashed; their hulls were crushed

And blood the waters stained.

Brave men leaped to the foamy deep

To try to gain the shore.

Into the depths they all were swept

And they were seen no more.

Upon the deck of the stricken wreck

Three men remained alone:

The captain, mate, and cabin boy

With faces set as stone.

His ponderous boots the mate kicked loose

Before he made the leap;

With a dauntless cry and a flashing eye

He was swallowed by the deep.

The mate was followed by the boy

(In swimming he'd been trained)

And true to the code of the sea he rode

The captain alone remained.

A giant wave the captain brave

Now caught and swept away;

He swam on and on "til his strength was gone

And night was turning day.

Against a rock with a jarring shock

His body hard was dashed,

And he held on tight with all his might

'Till hand were raw and gashed.

The cabin boy beheld with joy

The captain clinging there -

Then down sank he into the sea;

The captain seized his hair.

In need of rest they gained the crest;

Both were badly shaken.

"Oh fateful tide," the master sighed,

"My ship and men you've taken!"

A night and a day passed slow away

In wind and driving snow;

And clouds o'er head were grey as lead

While waves were white below.

"I don't want to die!" the boy did cry,

But the captain shook his head;

"Can you swim from here to land so dear,

Through raging sea?' he said.

The men was asleep in a stupor deep

Dreaming of home so dear,

When: "Ship ahoy!" cried the cabin boy

"A boat I see quite near!"

"Then wave this scarf for all you're worth"

The captain weakly said.

With cries of joy the cabin boy

Waved it 'round his head.

Then o'er the deep the boat did sweep

On instant rescue bent.

The castaways gave silent praise

For timely rescue sent.

"A mast we spied above the tide"

The rescued ones were told,

"So we came out to look about

And you we did behold!"