He leads: we hear our Seaman's call
In the roll of battles won;
For he is Britain's Admiral
Till setting of her sun.

When Britain's life was in her ships,
He kept the sea as his own right;
And saved us from more fell eclipse
Than drops on day from blackest night.
Again his battle spat the flame!
Again his victory flag men saw!
At sound of Nelson's chieftain name,
A deeper breath did Freedom draw.

Each trusty captain knew his part:
They served as men, not marshalled kine:
The pulses they of his great heart,
With heads to work his main design.
Their Nelson's word, to beat the foe,
And spare the fall'n, before them shone.
Good was the hour of blow for blow,
And clear their course while they fought on.

Behold the Envied vanward sweep! -
A day in mourning weeds adored!
Then Victory was wrought to weep;
Then sorrow crowned with laurel soared.

A breezeless flag above a shroud
All Britain was when wind and wave,
To make her, passing human, proud,
Brought his last gift from o'er the grave!

Uprose the soul of him a star
On that brave day of Ocean days:
It rolled the smoke from Trafalger
To darken Austerlitz ablaze.
Are we the men of old, its light
Will point us under every sky
The path he took; and must we fight,
Our Nelson be our battle-cry!

He leads: we hear our Seaman's call
In the roll of battles won;
For he is Britain's Admiral
Till setting of her sun.

More verses by George Meredith

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