As when beyond Dongola the lion, whom hunters attack, Plagued by their darts from afar, leaps in, dividing them back; So between Spaniard and Frenchman the Victory wedged with a shout, Gun against gun; a cloud from her decks and lightning went out; Iron hailing of pitiless death from the sulphury smoke; Voices hoarse and parch’d, and blood from invisible stroke. Each man stood to his work, though his mates fell smitten around, As an oak of the wood, while his fellow, flame-shatter’d, besplinters the ground:— Gluttons of danger for England, but sparing the foe as he lay; For the spirit of Nelson was on them, and each was Nelson that day.
’She has struck!’—he shouted—’She burns, the Redoubtable! Save whom we can, Silence our guns’:—for in him the woman was great in the man, In that heroic heart each drop girl-gentle and pure, Dying by those he spared;—and now Death’s triumph was sure! From the deck the smoke-wreath clear’d, and the foe set his rifle in rest, Dastardly aiming, where Nelson stood forth, with the stars on his breast,— ‘In honour I gain’d them, in honour I die with them’ . . . Then, in his place, Fell . . . ’Hardy! ‘tis over; but let them not know’: and he cover’d his face. Silent, the whole fleet’s darling they bore to the twilight below: And above the war-thunder came shouting, as foe struck his flag after foe.
To his heart death rose: and for Hardy, the faithful, he cried in his pain,— ‘How goes the day with us, Hardy?’ . . . ’’Tis ours’:—Then he knew, not in vain Not in vain for his comrades and England he bled: how he left her secure, Queen of her own blue seas, while his name and example endure. O, like a lover he loved her! for her as water he pours Life-blood and life and love, lavish’d all for her sake, and for ours! —’Kiss me, Hardy!—Thank God!—I have done my duty!’—And then Fled that heroic soul, and left not his like among men.
Hear ye the heart of a nation
Groan, for her saviour is gone;
Gallant and true and tender,
Child and chieftain in one?
Such another day never
England will weep for again,
When the triumph darken’d the triumph,
And the hero of heroes was slain.
As who, while erst the Achaians wall’d the shore,
Stood Atlas-like before,
A granite face against the Trojan sea
Of foes who seethed and foam’d,
From that stern rock refused incessantly;
So He, in his colossal lines, astride
From sea to river-side,
Alhandra past Aruda to the Towers,
Our one true man of men
Frown’d back bold France and all the Imperial powers.
For when that Eagle, towering in his might
Beyond the bounds of Right,
O’ercanopied Europe with his rushing wings,
And all the world was prone
Before him as a God, a King of Kings;
When Freedom to one isle, her ancient shrine,
O’er the free favouring brine
Fled, as a girl by lustful war and shame
Discloister’d from her home,
Barefoot, with glowing eyes, and cheeks on flame,