The Death Of Nelson 
In that autumnal Norfolk sky
Its vastness mirroring the seas
The mainsail clouds which overfly
The deck-flat fields and mizzen trees
Horatio, the sickly son 
Of Rector Nelson's dying wife 
Will take on board his soul's supplies 
The totems of a later life 

Viscount Nelson Of The Nile 
His quarter-profile staring out
With solemn lips which yield no smile  
The soulful English eyes, no doubt
A face with very few regrets  
And if his stance - the sword at side 
The frogging and the epaulettes -
Diverts the gaze, it cannot hide 
A flat and pinnioned empty sleeve
The boyish lightness of a frame
Which enemies, on seeing it
Won't tally with the weighty name

But Nelson at the end is dead
The battle of Trafalgar won 
A murderous cough of smoke and lead
Expectorated at the sun  
A sniper's bullet in his spine
Across the orlop deck he lies
England in the mainsail clouds
Reflected in his faded eyes
The mizzen trees, the autumn seas
And vastness of those Norfolk skies

Then from the Spanish waters, north, 
Preserved in brandy, bring him home  
And bear his shattered body forth
To Paul's Cathedral and its dome 
Which looms across the gun-grey Thames
The day the cheerless funeral dawns  
Where cranes salute the wooden ships
And all of England's navy mourns.


In the week of the 200th anniversary of the Battle Of Trafalgar 
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