We had battled all the morning, ’mid the never-ceasing hail
Of shot and shell and splinter, of cable-shred, and sail;
We had thrice received their onslaught, which we thrice had driven back,
And were waiting, calm and ready, for the last forlorn attack;
When the stainless flag of England, that has braved a thousand years,
Was shot clean from the masthead; and they gave three hearty cheers.
’Twas the purpose of a moment, and the bravest of our tars
Plunged headlong in the boiling surf, amid the broken spars;
He snatched the shot-torn colours, and wound them round his arm,
Then climbed upon the deck again, and stood there safe and calm
He paused but for a moment – for it was no time to stay –
Then leaped into the rigging that had yet survived the fray;
Higher yet he climbed and higher, till he gained a dizzy height,
And then turned and paused a moment to look down upon the fight.
Whistled wild the shots around him, as a curling, smoky wreath
Formed a cloudy shroud to hide him from the enemy beneath.
Beat his heart with proud elation as he firmly fixed his stand,
And again the colours floated as he held them in his hand.
Then with pistol deftly wielded, ’mid the battle’s ceaseless blast,
Fastened there the colours firmly, as he nailed them to the mast;
Then, as if to yield him glory, the smoke-clouds cleared away –
And we sent him up the loudest cheer that reached his ear that day,
And, with new-born zeal and courage, dashed more boldly to the fight,
Till the day of battle ended in the triumph of the night.