With the wild weather today, Trafalgar day, I was thinking of this wonderful poem by Thomas Hardy
The Night Of Trafalgar
In the wild October night-time, when the wind raved round the land,
And the Back-sea met the Front-sea, and our doors were blocked with sand,
And we heard the drub of Dead-Man’s Bay, where the bones of thousands are,
We knew not what the day had done for us at Trafalgar.
Had done, Had done,
For us at Trafalgar!
‘Pull hard, and make the Nothe, or down we go!’ One says, says he.
We pulled; and bedtime brought the storm; but snug at home slept we.
Yet all the while our gallants after fighting through the day,
Were beating up and down the dark, sou’west of Cadiz Bay.
The dark, The dark,
Sou’west of Cadiz Bay!
The victors and the vanquished then the storm it tossed and tore,
As hard they strove, those worn-out men, upon that surly shore;
Dead Nelson and his half dead crew, his foes from near and far,
Were rolled together on the deep that night at Trafalgar!
The deep, The deep,
That night at Trafalgar!
Thomas Hardy imagined a storm hitting Weymouth in Dorset on the night of 21st October 1805, at the same time as a storm struck the victorious British and defeated Allied fleets off Trafalgar. All the place names in the poem (apart from Trafalgar) are in and around Weymouth Harbour, the Back-sea, the Front-sea, the Nothe and Dead-Man’s Bay.
In 2005 I was asked by the Thomas Hardy Society to see if I could find out if a storm had struck Weymouth at that time, it took me a while but eventually I discovered that the night was calm over Weymouth. Thomas Hardy made it up, but he did write a great poem.