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A dream of Trafalgar…by Bill Slavin

Globe director, Army veteran, bard, artist and author Bill Slavin draws inspiration while walking on a Lee shore…
As from the mouth of a silent cannon
Out by way of Soton’s Chimes,
Came a blood red, boiling cauldron
And In the midst, old ships of the line.
They came heeling in on a Wester;
Brushing the Isle of Wight,
And I saw a dream of Trafalgar:
Or so I thought, that night.
But I saw them, I swear I did!
But, only a glimpse you see,
But they were there: lying forbid,
Whether real or by a fantastic caprice.
Their top gallants pierced this fiery fog
The evening sun behind them,
Easting for Pompy’ and the promise of grog
To slake from the victorious mayhem.
Out from that ferocious squall
Came their shotted, blistered flanks,
Their splintered and bloodied walls
Held in perfect, triumphant ranks.
Standing in, all sails away,
Bearing on unforgotten tracts,
Flags from taken ships arrayed
Held aloft by happy Jacks.
Then, cheering charged the air;
Before fading off into the east,
Trailing smoke from still hot guns declare:
Blasted, yes, but had slain the beast.
This happened to me at fading dusk
One evening in passing by Lee,
So clear, that to believe it I must:
For it was so real, so real to me.
I’ve often gone to where I saw
Those wooden walls of of Nelson’s fleet:
Those ancient men-o-war,
But all heard are the echo of drumbeats.
Go there as I did: you might be blessed,
And If from the corner of your eye,
You feel a need to turn to the west
Don’t hurry to pass by.
Detail from painting showing the Battle of Trafalgar 1805, by Clarkson Frederick Stanfield – courtesy of Wikipedia