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San Stefano

Sir Henry Newbolt 1862 (Bilston, Staffordshire) – 1938 (Kensington, London)

(A Ballad of the Bold Menelaus)

It was morning at St. Helen's, in the great and gallant days,
And the sea beneath the sun glittered wide,
When the frigate set her courses, all a-shimmer in the haze
And she hauled her cable home and took the tide.
She'd a right fighting company, three hundred men and more,
Nine and forty guns in tackle running free;
And they cheered her from the shore for her colours at the fore,
When the bold _Menelaus_ put to sea.

She'd a right fighting company, three hundred men and more,
Nine and forty guns in tackle running free;
And they cheered her from the shore for her colours at the fore,
When the bold _Menelaus_ put to sea.

She was clear of Monte Cristo, she was heading for the land,
When she spied a pennant red and white and blue;
They were foemen, and they knew it, and they'd half a league in hand,
But she flung aloft her royals, and she flew.
She was nearer, nearer, nearer, they were caught beyond a doubt,
But they slipped her into Orbetello Bay,
And the lubbers gave a shout as they paid their cables out,
With the guns grinning round them where they lay.

Now, Sir Peter was a captain of a famous fighting race,
Son and grandson of an admiral was he;
And he looked upon the batteries, he looked upon the chase,
And he heard the shout that echoed out to sea.
And he called across the decks, 'Ay! the cheering might be late
If they kept it till the _Menelaus_ runs;
Bid the master and his mate heave the lead and lay her straight
For the prize lying yonder by the guns!'

When the summer moon was setting, into Orbetello Bay
Came the _Menelaus_ gliding like a ghost;
And her boats were manned in silence, and in silence pulled away,
And in silence every gunner took his post.
With a volley from her broadside the citadel she woke,
And they hammered back like heroes all the night;
But before the morning broke she had vanished through the smoke
With her prize upon her quarter grappled tight.

It was evening at St. Helen's in the great and gallant time,
And the sky behind the down was flushing far;
And the flags were all a-flutter, and the bells were all a-chime,
When the frigate cast her anchor off the bar.
She'd a right fighting company, three hundred men and more,
Nine and forty guns in tackle running free;
And they cheered her from the shore for the colours at the fore,
When the bold _Menelaus_ came from the sea.

She'd a right fighting company, three hundred men and more,
Nine and forty guns in tackle running free;
And they cheered her from the shore for her colours at the fore,
When the bold _Menelaus_ came from the sea.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:27 min read
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Sir Henry Newbolt

Sir Henry John Newbolt, CH was an English poet, novelist and historian. He also had a very powerful role as a government adviser, particularly on Irish issues and with regard to the study of English in England. He is perhaps best remembered for his poems "Vitaï Lampada" and "Drake's Drum". more…

All Sir Henry Newbolt poems | Sir Henry Newbolt Books

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    "San Stefano" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 11 Apr. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/35153/san-stefano>.

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