Trafalgar Day

A poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Sea, that art ours as we are thine, whose name
Is one with England's even as light with flame,
Dost thou as we, thy chosen of all men, know
This day of days when death gave life to fame?
Dost thou not kindle above and thrill below
With rapturous record, with memorial glow,
Remembering this thy festal day of fight,
And all the joy it gave, and all the woe?
Never since day broke flowerlike forth of night
Broke such a dawn of battle. Death in sight
Made of the man whose life was like the sun
A man more godlike than the lord of light.
There is none like him, and there shall be none.
When England bears again as great a son,
He can but follow fame where Nelson led.
There is not and there cannot be but one.
As earth has but one England, crown and head
Of all her glories till the sun be dead,
Supreme in peace and war, supreme in song,
Supreme in freedom, since her rede was read,
[Pg 339]Since first the soul that gave her speech grew strong
To help the right and heal the wild world's wrong,
So she hath but one royal Nelson, born
To reign on time above the years that throng.
The music of his name puts fear to scorn,
And thrills our twilight through with sense of morn:
As England was, how should not England be?
No tempest yet has left her banner torn.
No year has yet put out the day when he
Who lived and died to keep our kingship free
Wherever seas by warring winds are worn
Died, and was one with England and the sea.

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