1805

At Viscount Nelson’s lavish funeral,
While the mob milled and yelled about St Paul’s,
A General chatted with an Admiral:

“One of your colleagues, Sir, remarked today
That Nelson’s exit, though to be lamented,
Falls not inopportunely, in it’s way”

“He was a thorn in our flesh’, came the reply-
‘The mot bird-witted, unaccountable,
Odd little runt that ever I did spy”.

“One arm, one peeper, vain as Pretty Poll,
A meddler too, in foreign politics
And gave his heart in pawn to a plain moll.

“He would dare lecture us Sea Lords, and then
Would treat his ratings as though men of honour
And play leap-frog with his midshipmen!

We tried to box him down, but up he popped,
And when he banged Napoleon on the Nile
Became too much the hero to be dropped.

“You’ve heard that Copenhagen ‘blind eye’ story?
We’d tied him to Nurse Parker’s apron- strings-
By G-d, he snipped them through and snatched the glory!”

“Yet”, cried the General, ‘sic-and-twenty sail
Captured or sunk by him off Trafalgar-
That writes a handsome finis to the tale”

“Handsome enough. The seas are England’s now.
That fellow’s foibles need no longer plague us
He died most creditably, I’ll allow.”

“And Sir, the secret of his victories?”
“By his unServicelike, familiar ways, Sir,
He made the whole Fleet love him, damn his eyes!”

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Robert Graves

Robert von Ranke Graves was an English poet, scholar/translator/writer of antiquity specializing in Classical Greece and Rome, novelist and soldier in World War One. more…

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"1805" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 23 Mar. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/31084/1805>.

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