The fighting Temeraire,
Built of a thousand trees,
Lunging out her lightnings,
And beetling o’er the seas—
O Ship, how brave and fair,
That fought so oft and well,
On open decks you manned the gun
What cheerings did you share,
Impulsive in the van,
When down upon leagued France and
We English ran—
The freshet at your bowsprit
Like the foam upon the can.
Bickering, your colors
Licked up the Spanish air,
You flapped with flames of battle-flags—
Your challenge, Temeraire!
The rear ones of our fleet
They yearned to share your place,
Still vying with the Victory
Throughout that earnest race—
The Victory, whose Admiral,
With orders nobly won,
Shone in the globe of the battle glow—
The angel in that sun.
Parallel in story,
Lo, the stately pair,
As late in grapple ranging,
The foe between them there—
When four great hulls lay tiered,
And the fiery tempest cleared,
And your prizes twain appeared,
But Trafalgar is over now,
The quarter-deck undone;
The carved and castled navies fire
O, Titan Temeraire,
Your stern-lights fade away;
Your bulwarks to the years must yield,
And heart-of-oak decay.
A pigmy steam-tug tows you,
Gigantic, to the shore—
Dismantled of your guns and spars,
And sweeping wings of war.
The rivets clinch the iron clads,
Men learn a deadlier lore;
But Fame has nailed your battle-flags—
Your ghost it sails before:
O, the navies old and oaken,
O, the Temeraire no more!
Plain be the phrase, yet apt the verse,
More ponderous than nimble;
For since grimed War here laid aside
His Orient pomp, ’twould ill befit
Overmuch to ply
The rhyme’s barbaric cymbal.
Hail to victory without the gaud
Of glory; zeal that needs no fans
Of banners; plain mechanic power
Plied cogently in War now placed—
Where War belongs—
Among the trades and artisans.
Yet this was battle, and intense—
Beyond the strife of fleets heroic;
Deadlier, closer, calm ’mid storm;
No passion; all went on by crank,
Pivot, and screw,
And calculations of caloric.
Needless to dwell; the story’s known.
The ringing of those plates on plates
Still ringeth round the world—
The clangor of that blacksmiths’ fray.
Resounds this message from the Fates:
War shall yet be, and to the end;
But war-paint shows the streaks of weather;
War yet shall be, but warriors
Are now but operatives; War’s made
Less grand than Peace,
And a singe runs through lace and feather.