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British War Poetry in the Age of Romanticism 1793-1815, by Betty T. Bennet, Edited by Orianne Smith

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1799.11
A War Poem.
On the late Mr. Blythe, a Midshipman on board the Mars

“Nauticus”
The British Poetical Miscellany, (1799), pp. 7-8
The Gentleman's Magazine, LXXI (April 1801), p. 352 [1]

Hark! how the Church-bells' thund'ring harmony
Stun the glad ear!—Tidings of joy have come—
Good tidings of great joy!—Two gallant ships
Met on the element—they met—they fought
A desperate fight!—Good tidings of great joy!
They fought a desperate fight—The English guns
Plough'd up the hostile deck—they shatter'd her—
Old England triumph'd!—Yet another day
Of glory for the Ruler of the Waves.
For those who fell—'twas in their country's cause,
They have their passing paragraphs of praise,
And are forgotten.

                                       There was one who dy'd
In that day's glory, whose obscurer name
No proud historian's page will chronicle.
Peace to his honest soul!—I read his name—
'Twas in the list of slaughter;—and bless'd God
The sound was not familiar to mine ear.
But it was told me after, that this man
Was one whom lawful violence had forc'd
From his own home, and wife, and little ones,
Who by his labour liv'd:—that he was one
Whose uncorrupted heart could keenly feel
A husband's love—a father's anxiousness;
That from the wages of his toil he fed
The distant dear ones; and would talk of them
At midnight, when he trod the silent deck
With him he valued:—talk of them, of joys
That he had known.—O God! and of the hour
When they should meet again, till his full heart,
His manly heart, at last would overflow,
E'en like a child's, with very tenderness.
Peace to his honest spirit! Suddenly
It came, and merciful the ball of death,
For it came suddenly, and shatter'd him,
And left no moment's agonizing thought
On those he lov'd so well.

                              He ocean deep
Now lies at rest. Be Thou her comforter,
Who art the widow's friend; Man does not know
What a cold sickness made her blood run back,
When first she heard the tidings of the fight.
Man does not know with what a dreadful hope
She listen'd to the names of those who dy'd:
Man does not know, or, knowing, will not heed,
With what an agony of tenderness
She gaz'd upon her children, and beheld
His image, who was gone. O God! be Thou
Her comforter, who art the widow's friend.


Notes

1. Published anonymously in The British Poetical Miscellany; republished in The Gentleman's Magazine with the signature "Nauticus."

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Published @ RC

September 2004