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English Poetry II: From Collins to Fitzgerald.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Thomas Campbell

460. Battle of the Baltic

OF Nelson and the North

Sing the glorious day’s renown,

When to battle fierce came forth

All the might of Denmark’s crown,

And her arms along the deep proudly shone;

By each gun the lighted brand

In a bold determined hand,

And the Prince of all the land

Led them on.

Like leviathans afloat

Lay their bulwarks on the brine;

While the sign of battle flew

On the lofty British line:

It was ten of April morn by the chime:

As they drifted on their path

There was silence deep as death;

And the boldest held his breath

For a time.

But the might of England flush’d

To anticipate the scene;

And her van the fleeter rush’d

O’er the deadly space between.

‘Hearts of oak!’ our captains cried, when each gun

From its adamantine lips

Spread a death-shade round the ships,

Like the hurricane eclipse

Of the sun.

Again! again! again!

And the havoc did not slack,

Till a feeble cheer the Dane

To our cheering sent us back;—

Their shots along the deep slowly boom:—

Then ceased—and all is wail,

As they strike the shatter’d sail;

Or in conflagration pale

Light the gloom.

Out spoke the victor then

As he hail’d them o’er the wave,

‘Ye are brothers! ye are men!

And we conquer but to save:—

So peace instead of death let us bring:

But yield, proud foe, thy fleet

With the crews, at England’s feet,

And make submission meet

To our King.’

Then Denmark bless’d our chief

That he gave her wounds repose;

And the sounds of joy and grief

From her people wildly rose,

As death withdrew his shades from the day:

While the sun look’d smiling bright

O’er a wide and woeful sight,

Where the fires of funeral light

Died away.

Now joy, old England, raise!

For the tidings of thy might,

By the festal cities’ blaze,

Whilst the wine-cup shines in light;

And yet amidst that joy and uproar,

Let us think of them that sleep

Full many a fathom deep

By thy wild and stormy steep,


Brave hearts! to Britain’s pride

Once so faithful and so true,

On the deck of fame that died,

With the gallant good Riou:

Soft sigh the winds of Heaven o’er their grave!

While the billow mournful rolls

And the mermaid’s song condoles

Singing glory to the souls

Of the brave!