On the Loss of the Royal George

By William Cowper 1731–1800 William Cowper
         Toll for the brave—
The brave! that are no more:
      All sunk beneath the wave,
Fast by their native shore.
      Eight hundred of the brave,
Whose courage well was tried,
      Had made the vessel heel
And laid her on her side;
      A land-breeze shook the shrouds,
And she was overset;
      Down went the Royal George,
With all her crew complete.

         Toll for the brave—
Brave Kempenfelt is gone,
      His last sea-fight is fought,
His work of glory done.
      It was not in the battle,
No tempest gave the shock,
      She sprang no fatal leak,
She ran upon no rock;
      His sword was in the sheath,
His fingers held the pen,
      When Kempenfelt went down
With twice four hundred men.

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

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Poet William Cowper 1731–1800

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Augustan

Subjects Heroes & Patriotism, Nature, War & Conflict, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Living, Death

Poetic Terms Imagery, Rhymed Stanza, Elegy

 William  Cowper

Biography

William Cowper was the foremost poet of the generation between Alexander Pope and William Wordsworth and for several decades had probably the largest readership of any English poet. From 1782, when his first major volume appeared, to 1837, the year in which Robert Southey completed the monumental Life and Works of Cowper, more than a hundred editions of his poems were published in Britain and almost fifty in America.

Cowper's . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Heroes & Patriotism, Nature, War & Conflict, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Living, Death

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Augustan

Poetic Terms Imagery, Rhymed Stanza, Elegy

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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