Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
The Battle of Copenhagen
By Thomas Campbell (1777–1844)
OF Nelson and the North
        Sing the day!
When, their haughty powers to vex,
He engaged the Danish decks,
And with twenty floating wrecks        5
        Crowned the fray!
All bright, in April’s sun,
        Shone the day!
When a British fleet came down
Through the islands of the crown,        10
And by Copenhagen town
        Took their stay.
In arms the Danish shore
        Proudly shone;
By each gun the lighted brand,        15
In a bold determined hand,
And the Prince of all the land
        Led them on!
For Denmark here had drawn
        All her might!        20
From her battle-ships so vast
She had hewn away the mast,
And at anchor to the last
        Bade them fight!
Another noble fleet        25
        Of their line
Rode out, but these were naught
To the batteries, which they brought,
Like Leviathans afloat,
        In the brine.        30
It was ten of Thursday morn,
        By the chime;
As they drifted on their path
There was silence deep as death,
And the boldest held his breath        35
        For a time—
Ere a first and fatal round
        Shook the flood;
Every Dane looked out that day,
Like the red wolf on his prey,        40
And he swore his flag to sway
        O’er our blood.
Not such a mind possessed
        England’s tar;
’Twas the love of noble game        45
Set his oaken heart on flame,
For to him ’twas all the same—
        Sport and war.
All hands and eyes on watch,
        As they keep;        50
By their motion light as wings,
By each step that haughty springs,
You might know them for the kings
        Of the deep!
’Twas the Edgar first that smote        55
        Denmark’s line;
As her flag the foremost soared,
Murray stamped his foot on board,
And an hundred cannons roared
        At the sign!        60
Three cheers of all the fleet
        Sung huzza!
Then, from centre, rear, and van,
Every captain, every man,
With a lion’s heart began        65
        To the fray.
Oh, dark grew soon the heavens—
        For each gun
From its adamantine lips
Spread a death-shade round the ships,        70
Like a hurricane eclipse
        Of the sun.
Three hours the raging fire
        Did not slack;
But the fourth, their signals drear        75
Of distress and wreck appear,
And the Dane a feeble cheer
        Sent us back.
The voice decayed, their shots
        Slowly boom.        80
They ceased—and all is wail,
As they strike the shattered sail,
Or in conflagration pale
        Light the gloom.
Oh death!—it was a sight        85
        Filled our eyes!
But we rescued many a crew
From the waves of scarlet hue,
Ere the cross of England flew
        O’er her prize.        90
Why ceased not here the strife,
        O ye brave?
Why bleeds old England’s band,
By the fire of Danish land,
That smites the very hand        95
        Stretched to save?
But the Britons sent to warn
        Denmark’s town;
Proud foes, let vengeance sleep;
If another chain-shot sweep,        100
All your navy in the deep
        Shall go down!
Then, peace instead of death
        Let us bring!
If you’ll yield your conquered fleet,        105
With the crews, at England’s feet,
And make submission meet
        To our king!
Then death withdrew his pall
        From the day;        110
And the sun looked smiling bright
On a wide and woful sight,
Where the fires of funeral light
        Died away.
Yet all amidst her wrecks,        115
        And her gore,
Proud Denmark blest our chief
That he gave her wounds relief;
And the sounds of joy and grief
        Filled her shore.        120
All round, outlandish cries
        Loudly broke;
But a nobler note was rung,
When the British, old and young,
To their bands of music sung        125
        ‘Hearts of Oak!’
Cheer! cheer! from park and tower,
        London town!
When the King shall ride in state
From St. James’s royal gate,        130
And to all his peers relate
        Our renown!
The bells shall ring! the day
        Shall not close,
But a blaze of cities bright        135
Shall illuminate the night,
And the wine-cup shine in light
        As it flows!
Yet—yet—amid the joy
        And uproar,        140
Let us think of them that sleep
Full many a fathom deep
All beside thy rocky steep,
Brave hearts, to Britain’s weal        145
        Once so true!
Though death has quenched your flame,
Yet immortal be your name!
For ye died the death of fame
        With Riou!        150
Soft sigh the winds of heaven
        O’er your grave!
While the billow mournful rolls,
And the mermaid’s song condoles,
Singing—“Glory to the souls        155
        Of the brave!”

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