"She's The Fighting Téméraire"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In this poem "The Fighting Téméraire" Sir Henry Newbolt pays tribute to a ship that played a great part in the battle of Trafalgar. The ship, originally French, had been captured earlier by Nelson and remained in the service of the British navy. It was finally destroyed in 1838. The artist J. M. W. Turner saw the Téméraire as it was being towed up the Thames to be broken up, and the scene inspired him to paint the picture entitled "The Fighting Téméraire Towed to Her Last Berth." Newbolt's poem gives a spirited description of the ship in three phases of its life: in the morning, when the ship is fresh and the crew singing; at noon, as the ship is preparing to go into battle; and in the evening, when "There's a far bell ringing/ At the setting of the sun, . . ." and the ship is no longer serviceable. Still the renown of its days of glory lives on. The poem closes with the following lines, which are reminiscent of the scene in Turner's painting:

Now, the sunset breezes shiver,
Téméraire! Téméraire!
And she's fading down the river,
Téméraire! Téméraire!
Now the sunset breezes shiver,
And she's fading down the river,
But in England's song for ever
She's the Fighting Téméraire.