Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, WHAT SAID THE LITTLE ADMIRAL?, by WILLIAM ROSE BENET



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WHAT SAID THE LITTLE ADMIRAL?, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Says he, 'I'll get my full gazette this day, or there will be
Last Line: And his fame in the name of the fight off afrikay!
Subject(s): Nelson, Horatio, Viscount (1758-1805)


"Says he, 'I 'll get my full Gazette this day, or there will be
A tablet in Westminster and a burial at sea!
England's old-woman Ministry, knit on, knit on, I say!
You made us cowards at Corsica, you doubted Jervis' fleet,
You snarled at me when I would me at Alexandriay. . . .
Now, "Nap" 's here, boys! A cheer!' . . . And the drums began to beat.

"Says he, 'You grutched my blinded eye and blinked my empty sleeve;
Well, Lord Hood has seen my sailor-men at Bastia, by your leave.
My men were ghosts at Calvi under the lion-sun.
The Austrians smirked and blenched and shirked, but I cut the Dons in two
The 'tother side Gibraltar, -- and you know how that was done!
But it's made you afraid of me, rear admiral of the Blue.

"'You want my explanations for "chasing round the sea?"
You'll want no explanations tonight, for there will be
The grandest, brightest bonfire of Crapaud's shrouds and spars
That ever lighted London with loud huzzas and hearty!
Officers, sup, -- and then we'll up, and show how Nelson wars.
Langridge-grog for the Frog, red-hot grog for Boneyparty!'

"Says he, 'I'll get my own Gazette!' He got it on that night.
We saw him, in the cockpit, come reeling from the fight
All blind with blood, but, -- 'Serve my men, surgeon! I'll bide my turn.'. . .
And a 'king' like that don't die, for when disaster rent the wave
We heard him from the quarter-deck, as the 'Orient' roared astern,
'Man the boats, while there floats a foe of ours to save!'

"And he so keen that the Culloden should get her rightful praise!
Well, he had an eye for all of us; as, on that day of days,
He knew where Trowbridge was, and how his shoaling saved the night.
God rest the little Admiral, and such as he, I say,
With a heart for every Jack afloat, and a stomach for a fight,
And his fame in the name of the fight off Afrikay!





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