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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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1808.5
The Curieux.
A Tribute to Valour

John Mayne [1]
The European Magazine, LIII (March, 1808), p. 217
The Gentleman's Magazine, LXXVIII (April, 1808), p. 343

What mean the colours half-mast high,
    In yonder ship upon the main?
Ah me! a seaman made reply,
    Some hero of renown is slain!

Yon brig is call'd the Curieux.
    To Britain's foes a deadly name;
Her captain, Sherriff, and his crew
    No strangers in the lists of fame!

But, in a daring enterprise,
    Tho' glory has the conflict crown'd,
A wreck his gallant vessel lies,
    While carnage reddens all around!

Behold, approaching to the shore,
    The tars, lamenting, bow their head!
Poor Sherriff wounded to the core,
    And, for his king and country, dead!

Ye brave companions of his life,
    Ye heroes of the Curieux,
Who join'd him in th' unequal strife,
    Who saw him bid the world adieu—

To honour's bed his corse convey,
    For glory was his leading star;
Mild as the gentlest breeze of May,
    But like a lion in the war!

And keep your colours half-mast high,
    A mournful signal o'er the main!
Seen only when th' illustrious die,
    Or are in glorious battle slain!


Notes

1. A Scottish poet, Mayne began his career as a printer in the office of the Dumfries Journal. He went to London in 1787 where he became proprietor and joint editor of TheStar. His long poem, Siller Gun, expanded over a period 1777-1836, was considered by Walter Scott to be superior to anything of Ferguson and close to Burns (Lady of the Lake, v. 20.).

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September 2004