The Death of Nelson
Poem incorrectly attributed to Gordon.
I was midst the battle's echoing din
And the cannon's thundering roar,
When brave men fought to die or win
And the decks ran red with gore ;
When the fleets of England, France and Spain
Were joined in desperate fight,
When fell the leaden shot like rain
And flashed the cutlass bright,
When the iron ball's resistless sway
Through sheet and rigging passed,
And through the swelling sails made way
And split the towering mast ;
When the tumult of the contest's swell
Reached to the shore
Twas then in victory's arms he felló
He fell to rise no more.
And will he never, never rise,
That spirit bold and true ;
Has he for ever closed his eyes
And bid this world adieu ?
And where, oh where shall England find
'Mong all her many brave
A soul so generous and so kind
In hour of need to save.
Thou mays't on bygone times look back
With conscience bright and clear,
No mad ambition made thy track
A selfish vain career.
Thy country's safety though didst guard,
Her honour was thy care,
Her foeman's course thou didst retard
And made her prospects fair ;
And couldst thou live and yet return
Back to thy grateful land
I ween each English heart would burn
To clasp thee by the hand ;
And highest honour thou wouldst hold
And most revered wouldst be
Midst all that loyal race and bold
The Saxon chivalry.
While England's lovely fair ones too
On thee would brightly smile,
And hail with joy the guardian true
Of their unconquered isle.
But no, alas, the thought is vain,
Thy course on earth is o'er,
And thou wilt never rise again
Nor see thy country more.
Yet wherefore shouldst thou be delayed
In this dark world of ours,
Whose brightest paths are marked with shade
And false its fairest flowers ?
The hero in his cabin lies.
While round him mutely stand
With throbbing hearts and tearful eye
A sad but silent band ;
But now his gallant mates have hurled
Destruction on their foes,
And through the fleet like lightning whirled
The shout of victory goes.
The conqueror gazed upon his sword :
'My earthly race is run'
Then faintly murmured, 'Thank my God,'
'My duty I have done.'
The sun on high with golden light
Streaks through the cabin now,
And for an instant flickers bright
On Nelson's pallid brow.
The dying man looked up and smiled,
One long look round him cast,
And from the scene of carnage with
The soul to heaven passed.