Published on Academy of American Poets (

The Red Flag

  Where the quivering lightning flings
    His arrows from out the clouds,
  And the howling tempest sings
    And whistles among the shrouds,
  'Tis pleasant, 'tis pleasant to ride
    Along the foaming brine—
  Wilt be the Rover's bride?
    Wilt follow him, lady mine?
  For the bonny, bonny brine.

  Amidst the storm and rack,
    You shall see our galley pass,
  As a serpent, lithe and black,
    Glides through the waving grass.
  As the vulture swift and dark,
    Down on the ring-dove flies,
  You shall see the Rovers bark
    Swoop down upon his prize.
  For the bonny, bonny prize.

  Over her sides we dash,
    We gallop across her deck—
  Ha! there's a ghastly gash
    On the merchant-captain's neck—
  Well shot, well shot, old Ned!
    Well struck, well struck, black James!
  Our arms are red, and our foes are dead,
    And we leave a ship in flames!
  For the bonny, bonny flames!


This poem is in the public domain. 

About this Poem

From Ballads and Songs (London: Cassell and Company, 1896).



William Makepeace Thackeray

William Makepeace Thackeray, born July 18, 1811, was an English writer best known for his novels, particularly The History of Henry Esmond, Esq. (The Mershon Company Publishers, 1852) and Vanity Fair (Bradbury and Evans, 1848). While in school, Thackeray began writing poems, which he published in a number of magazines, chiefly Fraser and Punch. He died on December 24, 1863.

Date Published: 2018-07-12

Source URL: