Ballads & Poems

In Sir Cloudesley Shovell’s time, honour and gallantry among men of the armed forces was prized and praised, especially in the navy. For his courageous deeds at sea, Shovell was knighted in 1689 by King William III. Ballads (a narrative story set to music) about the life of sailors and their heroic actions were common and very popular. These verses romanticized a sailor’s time in the navy, which was actually incredibly dangerous. Many men died at sea, including Shovell. These ballads celebrate English naval victories during Shovell’s lifetime. In October of 1707, after Shovell’s death, a poem of condolence was written to the entire navy, regretting the loss of such an admiral.

 

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Naval Songs and Ballads by C.H. Firth relates the history and the sung poetry of sailors in the British navy up until the 20th century. In it is found many ballads about famous naval leaders, including Cloudesley Shovell, Admiral Rooke, Russel, and Ashby.
“A New Elegy on the Lamented Death of Sir Cloudesley Shovell” comes from the book 'Naval Songs and Ballads' by C.H. Firth, published in Oxford in 1908. This ballad describes the shipwreck of Shovell's fleet and the admiral's bravery in the face of death, as well as celebrating his victories during his naval career.

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