ask me what defense is mine.
Here amidst your armed bands!
You only mock the prisoner who is helpless in your hands.
What would defense avail me though it be good and true,
Here in the heart of London town, with judges such as you?
On that wild day when near our coasts the stately ships of Spain
Caught in a fierce and sudden storm, for safety sought in vain;
When wrenched and torn 'midst mountain waves some foundered in the
And others broke on sunken reefs and headlands rough and steep-
I heard the cry that off my land where breakers rise and roar
The sailors from a wrecking ship were striving for the shore.
I hurried to the frightful scene, my generous people too,
Men, women, even children,came, some kindly deed to do.
We saw them clutching spars and planks that soon were washed away,
Saw others bleeding on the rocks, low moaning where they lay;
Some cast ashore and back again dragged by the refluent wave,
Whom one grip from a friendly hand would have sufficed to save.
We rushed into the raging surf, watched every chance, and when
They rose and rolled within our reach we grasped the drowning men
We took them to our hearths and homes and bade them there remain
Till they might leave with hope to reach their native land again.
This is the 'treason' you have charged! Well, treason let it be,
One word of sorrow for such fault you'll never hear from me.
I'll only say although you hate my race, and creed, and name,
Were your folk in that dreadful plight I would have done the same.