He paced the ship’s deck until boredom set in;
He knew every knothole and board.
Sometimes he was greeted with just a “hello,”
By most he was simply ignored.
The sentence the judge handed down that grim day
Was harsher than death, many said.
But his was a crime that had struck at the core
And no one dreamed what lie ahead.
Young Philip Nolan first heard that his friend,
Aaron Burr, his companion for years,
Was tried in a courtroom for treason but won
A clear vindication by peers.
Named as accomplice, young Nolan burst forth
With fury and rage rarely heard.
In the silence that followed as fear filled the air,
No one uttered a sound or a word.
With venom, he then cursed the land of his birth,
Revealing deep anger and hate.
“I wish I may never again hear its name.”
And with that, Nolan sealed his own fate.
The judge pronounced sentence on Nolan that day,
“I’ll grant you your wish,” the judge said.
“You’ll spend all your life on our Navy’s warships;
Never hear of this country again.
“You’ll never set foot on the great U.S.A.
Or read about anything here.
The mates are forbidden to speak of our land;
You’ll lose all the things you’ve held dear.
At first he remained unrepentant and proud.
But then he was desperate to hear
Any word from the homeland that he had once cursed.
His sentence seemed harsh and severe.
For fifty long years Nolan changed ships at sea,
But always the rules were the same.
And as he lay dying, some officers found
His room was a true hall of fame.
A picture of Washington hung on the walll
A folded flag lay on his lap.
He’d painted an eagle, claws grasping the globe,
Below that, a U.S.A. map.
At Nolan’s request, he was buried at sea,
From one of the Navy warships.
Though he never would hear of the U.S. again
He died with its name on his lips.
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