Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Spain, Portugal, Belgium, and Holland: Vols. XIV–XV. 1876–79.

Spain: Trafalgar


By William Cox Bennett (1820–1895)

NORTHWEST the wind was blowing

Our good ships running free;

Seven leagues lay Cape Trafalgar

Away upon our lee;

’T was then, as broke the morning,

The Frenchmen we descried,

East away, there they lay,

That day that Nelson died.

That was a sight to see, boys,

On which that morning shone!

We counted three-and-thirty,

Mounseer and stately Don;

And plain their great three-deckers

Amongst them we descried,—

“Safe,” we said, “for Spithead,”

That day that Nelson died.

Then Nelson spoke to Hardy,

Upon his face the smile,

The very look he wore when

We beat them at the Nile!

“We must have twenty, Hardy,”

’T was thus the hero cried;

And we had twenty, lad,

That day that Nelson died.

Up went his latest signal;

Ay, well, my boys, he knew

That not a man among us

But would his duty do!

And as the signal flew, boys,

With shouts each crew replied;

How we cheered as we neared

The foe, when Nelson died!

We led the weather column,

But Collingwood, ahead,

A mile from all, the lee line

Right through the Frenchmen led;

“And what would Nelson give to

Be here with us!” he cried,

As he bore through their roar

That day that Nelson died.

Well, on the “Victory” stood, boys,

With every sail full spread;

And as we neared them slowly

There was but little said.

There were thoughts of home amongst us,

And as their line we eyed,

Here and there, perhaps, a prayer,

That day that Nelson died.

A gun,—the “Bucentaure” first

Began with us the game;

Another,—then their broadsides

From all sides through us came;

With men fast falling round us,

While not a gun replied,

With sails rent, on we went,

That day that Nelson died.

“Steer for their admiral’s flag, boys!”

But where it flew none knew;

“Then make for that four-decker,”

Said Nelson, “men, she ’ll do!”

So, at their “Trinidada,”

To get we straightway tried,

As we broke through their smoke,

That day that Nelson died.

’T was where they clustered thickest

That through their line we broke,

And to their “Bucentaure” first

Our thundering broadside spoke.

We shaved her;—as our shot, boys,

Crashed through her shattered side;

She could feel how to heel

That day that Nelson died.

Into the Dons’ four-decker

Our larboard broadsides pour,

Though all we well could spare her

Went to the “Bucentaure.”

Locked to another Frenchman,

Our starboard fire we plied,

Gun to gun till we won,

That day that Nelson died.

“Redoubtable” they call her,—

A curse upon her name!

’T was from her tops the bullet

That killed our hero came.

As from the deck, with Hardy,

The bloody fight he eyed,

And could hear cheer on cheer,

As they struck, that day he died.

“They ’ve done for me at last, friend!”

’T was thus they heard him say,

“But I die as I would die, boys,

Upon this glorious day;

I ’ve done my duty, Hardy,”

He cried, and still he cried,—

As below, sad and slow,

We bore him as he died.

On wounded and on dying

The cockpit’s lamp shone dim;

But many a groan we heard, lads,

Less for themselves than him:

And many a one among them

Had given, and scarcely sighed,

A limb to save him

Who there in glory died.

As slowly life ebbed from him,

His thoughts were still the same;

“How many have we now, boys?”

Still faint and fainter came.

As ship on ship struck to us,

His glazing eyes with pride,

As it seemed, flashed and gleamed,

As he knew he conquering died.

We beat them—how, you know, boys,

Yet many an eye was dim;

And when we talked of triumph,

We only thought of him.

And still, though fifty years, boys,

Have gone, who, without pride,

Names his name,—tells his fame,

Who at Trafalgar died!