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Short poem

William Cowper (1731-1800)

On the Loss of the Royal George

              1      Toll for the brave--
              2The brave! that are no more:
              3    All sunk beneath the wave,
              4Fast by their native shore.
              5    Eight hundred of the brave,
              6Whose courage well was tried,
              7    Had made the vessel heel
              8And laid her on her side;
              9    A land-breeze shook the shrouds,
            10And she was overset;
            11    Down went the Royal George,
            12With all her crew complete.

            13      Toll for the brave--
            14Brave Kempenfelt is gone,
            15    His last sea-fight is fought,
            16His work of glory done.
            17    It was not in the battle,
            18No tempest gave the shock,
            19    She sprang no fatal leak,
            20She ran upon no rock;
            21    His sword was in the sheath,
            22His fingers held the pen,
            23    When Kempenfelt went down
            24With twice four hundred men.

            25      Weigh the vessel up,
            26Once dreaded by our foes,
            27    And mingle with your cup
            28The tears that England owes;
            29    Her timbers yet are sound,
            30And she may float again,
            31    Full charg'd with England's thunder,
            32And plough the distant main;
            33    But Kempenfelt is gone,
            34His victories are o'er;
            35    And he and his eight hundred
            36Must plough the wave no more.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: William Hayley, Life and Posthumous Writings of William Cowper (Chichester: J. Seagrave; for J. Johnson, London, 1803-04). E-10 3766 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
First publication date: 1803
RPO poem editor: N. J. Endicott
RP edition: 2RP 1.757.
Recent editing: 4:2002/2/10

Composition date: 1782
Form: Horatian Ode
Rhyme: abcbdefeghih

Other poems by William Cowper