Home  »  library  »  poem  »  On the Loss of the Royal George

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

On the Loss of the Royal George

By William Cowper (1731–1800)

Written When the News Arrived

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 a rock.

His sword was in its 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 our cup

The tear that England owes.

Her timbers yet are sound,

And she may float again,

Full charged with England’s thunder,

And plow the distant main.

But Kempenfelt is gone—

His victories are o’er;

And he and his eight hundred

Shall plow the waves no more.