Pirates by Alfred Noyes

by Alfred Noyes

Come to me, you with the laughing face, in the light as I lie
Dreaming of days that are dead and of joys gone by;
Come to me, comrade, come through the slow-dropping rain,
Come from your grave in the darkness and let us be pirates again.

Let us be boys together to-night, and pretend as of old
We are pirates at rest in a cave among huge heaps of gold,
Red Spanish doubloons and great pieces of eight, and muskets and swords,
And a smoky red camp-fire to glint, you know how, on our ill-gotten hoards.

The old cave in the fir-wood that slopes down the hills to the sea
Still is haunted, perhaps, by young pirates as wicked as we:
Though the fir with the magpie’s big mud-plastered nest used to hide it so well,
And the boys in the gang had to swear that they never would tell.

Ah, that tree; I have sat in its boughs and looked seaward for hours.
I remember the creak of its branches, the scent of the flowers
That climbed round the mouth of the cave. It is odd I recall
Those little things best, that I scarcely took heed of at all.

I remember how brightly the brass on the butt of my spy-glass gleamed
As I climbed through the purple heather and thyme to our eyrie and dreamed;
I remember the smooth glossy sun-burn that darkened our faces and hands
As we gazed at the merchantmen sailing away to those wonderful lands.

I remember the long, slow sigh of the sea as we raced in the sun,
To dry ourselves after our swimming; and how we would run
With a cry and a crash through the foam as it creamed on the shore,
Then back to bask in the warm dry gold of the sand once more.

Come to me, you with the laughing face, in the gloom as I lie
Dreaming of days that are dead and of joys gone by;
Let us be boys together to-night and pretend as of old
We are pirates at rest in a cave among great heaps of gold.

Come; you shall be chief. We’ll not quarrel, the time flies so fast.
There are ships to be grappled, there’s blood to be shed, ere our playtime be past.
No; perhaps we will quarrel, just once, or it scarcely will seem
So like the old days that have flown from us both like a dream.

Still; you shall be chief in the end; and then we’ll go home
To the hearth and the tea and the books that we loved: ah, but come,
Come to me, come through the night and the slow-dropping rain;
Come, old friend, come thro’ the darkness and let us be playmates again.


Alfred Noyes was an English poet, short story writer and playwright who was born in 1880 in Staffordshire, England. Noyes was educated at Exeter College, Oxford, where he excelled in classics and was elected president of the Oxford Union. After graduating, he devoted himself to writing and published his first collection of poems, The Loom of Years, in 1902. Noyes went on to publish several other volumes of verse including Forty Singing Seamen (1907), The Flower of Old Japan (1908), and Tales of the Mermaid Tavern (1913). He is best known for his lyrical poem “The Highwayman” which was published in 1906 in Blackwood’s Magazine. The vivid ballad tells the story of an 18th century highwayman who is in love with an innkeeper’s daughter. Noyes also wrote historical fiction and non-fiction prose on subjects such as witchcraft and World War I. His dramas in blank verse include Sherwood, Robin Hood and His Merrie Men, The Torch-Bearers and Lancelot. Though his popularity as a poet waned in later years, during his lifetime Noyes was regarded as a leading poet of his generation for his mastery of traditional verse forms and lyricism. He continued writing into his 80s and died in 1958 at the age of 77.