[ilds] BALLAD OF THE GOOD LORD NELSON

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Thu May 31 06:41:56 PDT 2007


On 5/31/2007 2:10 AM, Durrell School of Corfu wrote:

> Harold Bloom told me that the ' Ballad of the Good Lord Nelson' was 
> one of his favourite poems , to be recited in depression. RP

That is classic Bloom.  A reading through /Falstaff /as much as 
/Freud/.  And a good and merry rejoinder to Durrell's ballad.

    "Turning like the hour-glass in his lonely bunk"


1943.  Is this a war poem?  Perhaps it is rather more post-coital than 
post-colonial.  The approach would tell us much.

Back to my "various rigs."

***

Durrell, Lawrence:  A BALLAD OF THE GOOD LORD NELSON [from /Collected 
Poems: 1931-1974/ (1985), Faber and Faber]


The Good Lord Nelson had a swollen gland,
Little of the scripture did he understand
Till a woman led him to the promised land
                     Aboard the Victory, Victory O.

Adam and Evil and a bushel of figs
Meant nothing to Nelson who was keeping pigs,
Till a woman showed him the various rigs
                     Aboard the Victory, Victory O.

His heart was softer than a new laid egg,
Too poor for loving and ashamed to beg,
Till Nelson was taken by the Dancing Leg
                     Aboard the Victory, Victory O.

Now he up and did up his little tin trunk
And he took to the ocean on his English junk,
Turning like the hour-glass in his lonely bunk
                     Aboard the Victory, Victory O.

The Frenchman saw him a-coming there
With the one-piece eye and the valentine hair,
With the safety-pin sleeve and occupied air
                     Aboard the Victory, Victory O.

Now you all remember the message he sent
As an answer to Hamilton's discontent---
There were questions asked about it in Parliament
                     Aboard the Victory, Victory O.

Now the blacker the berry, the thicker comes the juice.
Think of Good Lord Nelson and avoid self-abuse,
For the empty sleeve was no mere excuse
                     Aboard the Victory, Victory O.

'England Expects' was the motto he gave
When he thought of little Emma out on Biscay's wave,
And remembered working on her like a galley-slave
                     Aboard the Victory, Victory O.

[Page 114 ]


The first Great Lord in our English land
To honour the Freudian command,
For a cast in the bush is worth two in the hand
                     Aboard the Victory, Victory O.

Now the Frenchman shot him there as he stood
In the rage of battle in a silk-lined hood
And he heard the whistle of his own hot blood
                     Aboard the Victory, Victory O.

Now stiff on a pillar with a phallic air
Nelson stylites in Trafalgar Square
Reminds the British what once they were
                     Aboard the Victory, Victory O.

If they'd treat their women in the Nelson way
There'd be fewer frigid husbands every day
And many more heroes on the Bay of Biscay
                     Aboard the Victory, Victory O.

1943/1943

-- 
**********************
Charles L. Sligh
Department of English
Wake Forest University
slighcl at wfu.edu
**********************

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