Kipling Friday

The Long Trail

There's a whisper down the field where the year has shot her yield,
    And the ricks stand grey to the sun,
Singing: "Over then, come over, for the bee has quit the dover,
    "And your English summer's done."
         You have heard the beat of the off-shore wind,
         And the thresh of the deep-sea rain;
         You have heard the song --  how long? how long?
         Pull out on the trail again!
Ha' done with the Tents of Shem, dear lass,
We've seen the seasons through,
And it's time to turn the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
Pull out, pull out, on the Long Trail-the trail that is always new!

It's North you may run to the rime-ringed sun
    Or South to the blind Hom's hate;
Or East all the way into Mississippi Bay,
    Or West to the Golden Gate --
         Where the blindest bluffs hold good, dear lass,
         And the wildest tales are true,
         And the men bulk big on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
         And life runs large on the Long Trail -- the trail that is always new.

The days are sick and cold, and the skies are grey and old
    And the twice-breathed airs blow damp;
And I'd sell my tired soul for the bucking beam-sea roll
    Of a black Bilbao tramp,
         With her load-line over her hatch, dear lass,
         And a drunken Dago crew,
         And her nose held down on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail
         From Cadiz south on the Long Trail-the trail that is always new.

There be triple ways to take, of the eagle or the snake,
    Or the way of a man with a maid;
But the sweetest way to me is a ship's upon the sea
    In the heel of the North-East Trade.
         Can you hear the crash on her brows, dear lass.
         And the drum of the racing screw,
         As she ships it green on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
         As she lifts and 'scends on the Long Trail -- the trail that is always new?

See the shaking funnels roar, with the Peter at the fore,
    And the fenders grind and heave,
And the derricks clack and grate, as the tackle hooks the crate,
    And the fall-rope whines through the sheave;
         It's "Gang-plank up and in," dear lass,
         It's "Hawsers warp her through!"
         And it's "All clear aft" on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
         We're backing down on the Long Trail -- the trail that is always new.

O the mutter overside, when the port-fog holds us tied,
    And the sirens hoot their dread,
When foot by foot we creep o'er the hueless, viewless deep
    To the sob of the questing lead!
         It's down by the Lower Hope, dear lass,
         With the Grinfleet Sands in view,
         Till the Mouse swings green on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
         And the Gull Light lifts on the Long Trail -- the trail that is always new.

O the blazing tropic night, when the wake's a welt of light
    That holds the hot sky tame,
And the steady fore-foot snores through the planet-powdered floors
    Where the scared whale flukes in flame!
         Her plates are flaked by the sun, dear lass
         And her ropes are taut with the dew,
         For we're booming down on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
         We're sagging south on the Long Trail -- the trail that is always new.

Then home, get her home, where the drunken rollers comb,
    And the shouting seas drive by,
And the engines stamp and ring, and the wet bows reel and swing,
    And the Southern Cross rides high!
         Yes, the old lost stars wheel back, dear lass,
         That blaze in the velvet blue.
         They're all old friends on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
         They're God's own guides on the Long Trail -- the trail that is always new.

Fly forward, O my heart, from the Foreland to the Start
    We're steaming all too slow,
And it's twenty thousand mile to our little lazy isle
    Where the trumpet-orchids blow!
         You have heard the call of the off-shore wind
         And the voice of the deep-sea rain;
         You have heard the song-how long? how long?
         Pull out on the trail again!

The Lord knows what we may find, dear lass,
And The Deuce knows we may do
But we're back once more on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
We're down, hull-down, on the Long Trail -- the trail that is always new!

Kipling Friday

“Late Came the God”

“The Wish House”

Late came the God, having sent his forerunners who were
      not regarded--
  Late, but in wrath;
Saying: "The wrong shall be paid, the contempt be rewarded
  On all that she hath."
He poisoned the blade and struck home, the full bosom receiving
The wound and the venom in one, past cure or relieving.
He made treaty with Time to stand still that the grief might
     be fresh--
Daily renewed and nightly pursued through her soul to her
Mornings of memory, noontides of agony, midnights unslaked
     for her,
Till the stones of the streets of her Hells and her Paradise ached
     for her.

So she lived while her body corrupted upon her.
  And she called on the Night for a sign, and a Sign was allowed,
And she builded an Altar and served by the light of her Vision--
  Alone, without hope of regard or reward, but uncowed,
Resolute, selfless, divine.
  These things she did in Love's honour...
What is a God beside Woman? Dust and derision!

Kipling Friday

The Last Ode

Nov. 27, 8 B.C.
Horace, BK. V. Ode 31
“The Eye of Allah”
“From “Debits and Credits”(1919-1923)

As WATCHERS couched beneath a Bantine oak,
  Hearing the dawn-wind stir,
Know that the present strength of night is broke
  Though no dawn threaten her
Till dawn's appointed hour--so Virgil died,
  Aware of change at hand, and prophesied

Change upon all the Eternal Gods had made
  And on the Gods alike--
Fated as dawn but, as the dawn, delayed
  Till the just hour should strike--

A Star new-risen above the living and dead;
  And the lost shades that were our loves restored
As lovers, and for ever. So he said;
  Having received the word...

Maecenas waits me on the Esquiline:
  Thither to-night go I....
And shall this dawn restore us, Virgil mine
  To dawn? Beneath what sky?

Kipling Friday

The King’s Job

The Tudor Monarchy

Once on a time was a King anxious to understand
What was the wisest thing a man could do for his land.
Most of his population hurried to answer the question,
Each with a long oration, each with a new suggestion.
They interrupted his meals -- he wasn't safe in his bed from 'em --
They hung round his neck and heels, and at last His Majesty fled from 'em.
He put on a leper's cloak (people leave lepers alone),
Out of the window he broke, and abdicated his throne.
All that rapturous day, while his Court and his ministers mourned him,
He danced on his own highway till his own Policeman warned him.
Gay and cheerful he ran (lepers don't cheer as a rule)
Till he found a philosopher-man teaching an infant-school.
The windows were open wide, the King sat down on the grass,
And heard the children inside reciting "Our King is an ass."
The King popped in his head: "Some people would call this treason,
But I think you are right," he said; "Will you kindly give me your reason?"     
Lepers in school are as rare as kings with a leper's dress on,
But the class didn't stop or stare; it calmly went on with the lesson:
"The wisest thing, we suppose, that a man can do for his land.
Is the work that lies under his nose, with the tools that lie under his hand."
The King whipped off his cloak, and stood in his crown before 'em.
He said: "My dear little folk,  Ex ore parvulorum --."
(Which is Latin for "Children know more than grown-ups would credit" )
You have shown me the road to go, and I propose to tread it."
Back to his Kingdom he ran, and issued a Proclamation,
"Let every living man return to his occupation!"
Then he explained to the mob who cheered in his palace and round it,
"I've been to look for a job, and Heaven be praised I've found it!"

Kipling Friday



The Garden called Gethsemane
  In Picardy it was,
And there the people came to see
  The English soldiers pass.
We used to pass -- we used to pass
Or halt, as it might be,
And ship our masks in case of gas
  Beyond Gethsemane.

The Garden called Gethsemane,
  It held a pretty lass,
But all the time she talked to me
  I prayed my cup might pass.
The officer sat on the chair,
  The men lay on the grass,
And all the time we halted there
  I prayed my cup might pass.

It didn't pass -- it didn't pass --
  It didn't pass from me.
I drank it when we met the gas
  Beyond Gethsemane!

Kipling Friday

The One Black StainĀ by Robert Ervin Howard:

They carried him out on the barren sand
where the rebel captains died;
Where the grim gray rotting gibbets stand
as Magellan reared them on the strand,
And the gulls that haunt the lonesome land
wail to the lonely tide.

Drake faced them all like a lion at bay,
with his lion head upflung:
“Dare ye my word of law defy,
to say this traitor shall not die?”
And his captains dared not meet his eye
but each man held his tongue.

Solomon Kane stood forth alone,
grim man of sober face:
“Worthy of death he may well be,
but the trial ye held was mockery,
“Ye hid your spite in a travesty
where justice hid her face.

“More of the man had ye been, on deck
your sword to cleanly draw
“In forthright fury from its sheath
and openly cleave him to the teeth —
“Rather than slink and hide beneath
a hollow word of the law.”

Hell rose in the eyes of Francis Drake.
“Puritan knave!” swore he.
“Headsman! Give him the axe instead!
He shall strike off yon traitor’s head!”
Solomon folded his arms and said,
darkly and somberly:

“I am no slave for your butcher’s work.”
“Bind him with triple strands!”
Drake roared and the men obeyed,
Hesitantly, as if afraid,
But Kane moved not as they took his blade
and pinioned his iron hands.

They bent the doomed man over to his knees,
the man who was to die;
They saw his lips in a strange smile bend,
one last long look they saw him send,
At Drake his judge and his one time friend
who dared not meet his eye.

The axe flashed silver in the sun,
a red arch slashed the sand;
A voice cried out as the head fell clear,
and the watchers flinched in sudden fear,
Though ’twas but a sea bird wheeling near
above the lonely strand.

“This be every traitor’s end!”
Drake cried, and yet again.
Slowly his captains turned and went
and the admiral’s stare was elsewhere bent
Than where the cold scorn with anger blent
in the eyes of Solomon Kane.

Night fell on the crawling waves;
the admiral’s door was closed;
Solomon lay in the stenching hold;
his irons clashed as the ship rolled.
And his guard, grown weary and overbold,
lay down his pipe and dozed.

He woke with a hand at his corded throat
that gripped him like a vise;
Trembling he yielded up the key,
and the somber Puritan stood free,
His cold eyes gleaming murderously
with the wrath that is slow to rise.

Unseen, to the admiral’s door,
went Solomon Kane from the guard,
Through the night and silence of the ship,
the guard’s keen dagger in his grip;
No man of the dull crew saw him slip
through the door unbarred.

Drake at the table sat alone,
his face sunk in his hands;
He looked up, as from sleeping —
but his eyes were blank with weeping
As if he saw not, creeping,
death’s swiftly flowing sands.

He reached no hand for gun or blade
to halt the hand of Kane,
Nor even seemed to hear or see,
lost in black mists of memory,
Love turned to hate and treachery,
and bitter, cankering pain.

A moment Solomon Kane stood there,
the dagger poised before,
As a condor stoops above a bird,
and Francis Drake spoke not nor stirred
And Kane went forth without a word
and closed the cabin door.

Kipling Friday

“Follow Me ‘ome”

   There was no one like 'im, 'Orse or Foot,
    Nor any o' the Guns I knew;
An' because it was so, why, o' course 'e went an' died,
    Which is just what the best men do.

So it's knock out your pipes an' follow me!
An' it's finish up your swipes an' follow me!
 Oh, 'ark to the big drum callin',
  Follow me -- follow me 'ome!

   'Is mare she neighs the 'ole day long,
    She paws the 'ole night through,
An' she won't take 'er feed 'cause o' waitin' for 'is step,
    Which is just what a beast would do.

   'Is girl she goes with a bombardier
    Before 'er month is through;
An' the banns are up in church, for she's got the beggar hooked,
    Which is just what a girl would do.

   We fought 'bout a dog -- last week it were --
    No more than a round or two;
But I strook 'im cruel 'ard, an' I wish I 'adn't now,
    Which is just what a man can't do.

   'E was all that I 'ad in the way of a friend,
    An' I've 'ad to find one new;
But I'd give my pay an' stripe for to get the beggar back,
    Which it's just too late to do!

So it's knock out your pipes an' follow me!
An' it's finish off your swipes an' follow me!
 Oh, 'ark to the fifes a-crawlin'!
  Follow me -- follow me 'ome!

     Take 'im away!  'E's gone where the best men go.
     Take 'im away!  An' the gun-wheels turnin' slow.
     Take 'im away!  There's more from the place 'e come.
     Take 'im away, with the limber an' the drum.

For it's "Three rounds blank" an' follow me,
An' it's "Thirteen rank" an' follow me;
 Oh, passin' the love o' women,
  Follow me -- follow me 'ome!