The Seven Seas


Rudyard Kipling

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eBooks@Adelaide
The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005

001

Table of Contents

The Seven Seas.

  1. A Song of the English.
  2. The Coastwise Lights.
  3. The Song of the Dead.
  4. The Deep-sea Cables.
  5. The Song of the Sons.
  6. The Song of the Cities.
  7. The First Chantey.
  8. The Last Chantey.
  9. The Merchantmen.
  10. McAndrews’ Hymn.
  11. The Miracles.
  12. The Native-Born.
  13. The King.
  14. The Rhyme of the Three Sealers.
  15. The Derelict.
  16. The Song of the Banjo.
  17. “The Liner She’s a Lady.”
  18. Mulholland’s Contract.
  19. Anchor Song.
  20. The Sea-Wife.
  21. Hymn Before Action.
  22. To the True Romance.
  23. The Flowers.
  24. The Last Rhyme of True Thomas.
  25. The Story of Ung.
  26. The Three-Decker.
  27. An American.
  28. The Mary Gloster.
  29. Sestina of the Tramp-Royal.

Barrack-Room Ballads.

  1. “Back to the Army Again.”
  2. “Birds of Prey” March.
  3. “Soldier an’ Sailor Too.”
  4. Sappers.
  5. That Day.
  6. “The Men That Fought at Minden.”
  7. Cholera Camp.
  8. The Ladies.
  9. Bill ’Awkins.
  10. The Mother-Lodge.
  11. “Follow Me ’Ome.”
  12. The Sergeant’s Weddin’.
  13. The Jacket.
  14. The ’Eathen.
  15. The Shut-Eye Sentry.
  16. “Mary, Pity Women!”
  17. For to Admire.

002

The Cities are full of pride,

Challenging each to each —

This from her mountain-side,

That from her burthened beach.

They count their ships full tale —

Their corn and oil and wine,

Derrick and loom and bale,

And rampart’s gun-flecked line;

City by city they hail:

“Hast aught to match with mine?”

And the men that breed from them

They traffic up and down,

But cling to their cities’ hem

As a child to the mother’s gown.

When they talk with the stranger bands,

Dazed and newly alone;

When they walk in the stranger lands,

By roaring streets unknown;

Blessing her where she stands

For strength above their own.

(On high to hold her fame

That stands all fame beyond,

By oath to back the same,

Most faithful-foolish-fond;

Making her mere-breathed name

Their bond upon their bond.)

So thank I God my birth

Fell not in isles aside —

Waste headlands of the earth,

Or warring tribes untried —

But that she lent me worth

And gave me right to pride.

Surely in toil or fray

Under an alien sky,

Comfort it is to say:

“Of no mean city am I.”

(Neither by service nor fee

Come I to mine estate —

Mother of Cities to me,

For I was born in her gate,

Between the palms and the sea,

Where the world-end steamers wait.)

Now for this debt I owe,

And for her far-borne cheer

Must I make haste and go

With tribute to her pier.

And she shall touch and remit

After the use of kings

(Orderly, ancient, fit)

My deep-sea plunderings,

And purchase in all lands.

And this we do for a sign

Her power is over mine,

And mine I hold at her hands.

A Song of the English.

Fair is our lot — O goodly is our heritage!

(Humble ye, my people, and be fearful in your mirth!)

For the Lord our God Most High

He hath made the deep as dry,

He hath smote for us a pathway to the ends of all the Earth!

Yea, though we sinned — and our rulers went from righteousness —

Deep in all dishonour though we stained our garments’ hem.

Oh be ye not dismayed,

Though we stumbled and we strayed,

We were led by evil counsellors — the Lord shall deal with them.

Hold ye the Faith — the Faith our Fathers sealèd us;

Whoring not with visions — overwise and overstale.

Except ye pay the Lord

Single heart and single sword,

Of your children in their bondage shall He ask them treble-tale.

Keep ye the Law — be swift in all obedience.

Clear the land of evil, drive the road and bridge the ford.

Make ye sure to each his own

That he reap what he hath sown;

By the peace among Our peoples let men know we serve the Lord.

* * * * *

Hear now a song — a song of broken interludes —

A song of little cunning; of a singer nothing worth.

Through the naked words and mean

May ye see the truth between

As the singer knew and touched it in the ends of all the Earth!

The Coastwise Lights.

Our brows are wreathed with spindrift and the weed is on our knees;

Our loins are battered ‘neath us by the swinging, smoking seas.

From reef and rock and skerry — over headland, ness and voe —

The Coastwise Lights of England watch the ships of England go!

Through the endless summer evenings, on the lineless, level floors;

Through the yelling Channel tempest when the syren hoots and roars —

By day the dipping house-flag and by night the rocket’s trail —

As the sheep that graze behind us so we know them where they hail.

We bridge across the dark, and bid the helmsman have a care,

The flash that wheeling inland wakes his sleeping wife to prayer;

From our vexed eyries, head to gale, we bind in burning chains

The lover from the sea-rim drawn — his love in English lanes.

We greet the clippers wing-and-wing that race the Southern wool;

We warn the crawling cargo-tanks of Bremen, Leith and Hull;

To each and all our equal lamp at peril of the sea —

The white wall-sided warships or the whalers of Dundee!

Come up, come in from Eastward, from the guard-ports of the Morn!

Beat up, beat in from Southerly, O gipsies of the Horn!

Swift shuttles of an Empire’s loom that weave us main to main,

The Coastwise Lights of England give you welcome back again!

Go, get you gone up-Channel with the sea-crust on your plates;

Go, get you into London with the burden of your freights!

Haste, for they talk of Empire there, and say, if any seek,

The Lights of England sent you and by silence shall ye speak.

The Song of the Dead.

Hear now the Song of the Dead — in the North by the torn berg-edges —

They that look still to the Pole, asleep by their hide-stripped sledges.

Song of the Dead in the South — in the sun by their skeleton horses,

Where the warrigal whimpers and bays through the dust of the sere river-courses.

Song of the Dead in the East — in the heat-rotted jungle hollows,

Where the dog-ape barks in the kloof — in the brake of the buffalo-wallows.

Song of the Dead in the West — in the Barrens, the snow that betrayed them,

Where the wolverine tumbles their packs from the camp and the grave-mound they made them;

Hear now the Song of the Dead!

I.

We were dreamers, dreaming greatly, in the man-stifled town;

We yearned beyond the skyline where the strange roads go down.

Came the Whisper, came the Vision, came the Power with the Need.

Till the Soul that is not man’s soul was lent us to lead.

As the deer breaks — as the steer breaks — from the herd where they graze,

In the faith of little children we went on our ways.

Then the wood failed — then the food failed — then the last water dried —

In the faith of little children we lay down and died.

On the sand-drift — on the veldt-side — in the fern-scrub we lay,

That our sons might follow after by the bones on the way.

Follow after — follow after! We have watered the root,

And the bud has come to blossom that ripens for fruit!

Follow after — we are waiting by the trails that we lost

For the sound of many footsteps, for the tread of a host.

Follow after — follow after — for the harvest is sown:

By the bones about the wayside ye shall come to your own!

* * * * *

When Drake went down to the Horn

And England was crowned thereby,

‘Twixt seas unsailed and shores unhailed

Our Lodge — our Lodge was born

(And England was crowned thereby).

Which never shall close again

By day nor yet by night,

While man shall take his life to stake

At risk of shoal or main

(By day nor yet by night),

But standeth even so

As now we witness here,

While men depart, of joyful heart,

Adventure for to know.

(As now bear witness here).

II.

We have fed our sea for a thousand years

And she calls us, still unfed,

Though there’s never a wave of all her waves

But marks our English dead:

We have strawed our best to the weed’s unrest

To the shark and the sheering gull.

If blood be the price of admiralty,

Lord God, we ha’ paid in full!

There’s never a flood goes shoreward now

But lifts a keel we manned;

There’s never an ebb goes seaward now

But drops our dead on the sand —

But slinks our dead on the sands forlore,

From The Ducies to the Swin.

If blood be the price of admiralty,

If blood be the price of admiralty,

Lord God, we ha’ paid it in!

We must feed our sea for a thousand years,

For that is our doom and pride,

As it was when they sailed with the Golden Hind

Or the wreck that struck last tide —

Or the wreck that lies on the spouting reef

Where the ghastly blue-lights flare.

If blood be the price of admiralty,

If blood be the price of admiralty,

If blood be the price of admiralty,

Lord God, we ha’ bought it fair!

The Deep-sea Cables.

The wrecks dissolve above us; their dust drops down from afar —

Down to the dark, to the utter dark, where the blind white sea-snakes are.

There is no sound, no echo of sound, in the deserts of the deep,

Or the great gray level plains of ooze where the shell-burred cables creep.

Here in the womb of the world — here on the tie-ribs of earth

Words, and the words of men, flicker and flutter and beat —

Warning, sorrow and gain, salutation and mirth —

For a Power troubles the Still that has neither voice nor feet.

They have wakened the timeless Things; they have killed their father Time;

Joining hands in the gloom, a league from the last of the sun.

Hush! Men talk today o’er the waste of the ultimate slime,

And a new Word runs between: whispering, “Let us be one!”

The Song of the Sons.

One from the ends of the earth — gifts at an open door —

Treason has much, but we, Mother, thy sons have more!

From the whine of a dying man, from the snarl of a wolf-pack freed,

Turn, for the world is thine. Mother, be proud of thy seed!

Count, are we feeble or few? Hear, is our speech so rude?

Look, are we poor in the land? Judge, are we men of The Blood?

Those that have stayed at thy knees, Mother, go call them in-

We that were bred overseas wait and would speak with our kin.

Not in the dark do we fight — haggle and flout and gibe;

Selling our love for a price, loaning our hearts for a bribe.

Gifts have we only today — Love without promise or fee —

Hear, for thy children speak, from the uttermost parts of the sea:

The Song of the Cities.

Bombay.

Royal and Dower-royal, I the Queen

Fronting thy richest sea with richer hands —

A thousand mills roar through me where I glean

All races from all lands.

Calcutta.

Me the Sea-captain loved, the River built,

Wealth sought and Kings adventured life to hold.

Hail, England! I am Asia — Power on silt,

Death in my hands, but Gold!

Madras.

Clive kissed me on the mouth and eyes and brow,

Wonderful kisses, so that I became

Crowned above Queens — a withered beldame now,

Brooding on ancient fame.

Rangoon.

Hail, Mother! Do they call me rich in trade?

Little care I, but hear the shorn priest drone,

And watch my silk-clad lovers, man by maid,

Laugh ‘neath my Shwe Dagon.

Singapore.

Hail, Mother! East and West must seek my aid

Ere the spent gear shall dare the ports afar.

The second doorway of the wide world’s trade

Is mine to loose or bar.

Hong–Kong.

Hail, Mother! Hold me fast; my Praya sleeps

Under innumerable keels today.

Yet guard (and landward) or tomorrow sweeps

Thy warships down the bay.

Halifax.

Into the mist my guardian prows put forth,

Behind the mist my virgin ramparts lie,

The Warden of the Honour of the North,

Sleepless and veiled am I!

Quebec and Montreal.

Peace is our portion. Yet a whisper rose,

Foolish and causeless, half in jest, half hate.

Now wake we and remember mighty blows,

And, fearing no man, wait!

Victoria.

From East to West the circling word has passed,

Till West is East beside our land-locked blue;

From East to West the tested chain holds fast,

The well-forged link rings true!

Capetown.

Hail! Snatched and bartered oft from hand to hand,

I dream my dream, by rock and heath and pine,

Of Empire to the northward. Ay, one land

From Lion’s Head to Line!

Melbourne.

Greeting! Nor fear nor favour won us place,

Got between greed of gold and dread of drouth,

Loud-voiced and reckless as the wild tide-race

That whips our harbour-mouth!

Sydney.

Greeting! My birth-stain have I turned to good;

Forcing strong wills perverse to steadfastness;

The first flush of the tropics in my blood,

And at my feet Success!

Brisbane.

The northern stirp beneath the southern skies —

I build a nation for an Empire’s need,

Suffer a little, and my land shall rise,

Queen over lands indeed!

Hobart.

Man’s love first found me; man’s hate made me Hell;

For my babes’ sake I cleansed those infamies.

Earnest for leave to live and labour well

God flung me peace and ease.

Auckland.

Last, loneliest, loveliest, exquisite, apart —

On us, on us the unswerving season smiles,

Who wonder ‘mid our fern why men depart

To seek the Happy Isles!

England’s Answer.

Truly ye come of The Blood; slower to bless than to ban;

Little used to lie down at the bidding of any man.

Flesh of the flesh that I bred, bone of the bone that I bare;

Stark as your sons shall be — stern as your fathers were.

Deeper than speech our love, stronger than life our tether,

But we do not fall on the neck nor kiss when we come together.

My arm is nothing weak, my strength is not gone by;

Sons, I have borne many sons but my dugs are not dry.

Look, I have made ye a place and opened wide the doors,

That ye may talk together, your Barons and Councillors —

Wards of the Outer March, Lords of the Lower Seas,

Ay, talk to your gray mother that bore you on her knees! —

That ye may talk together, brother to brother’s face —

Thus for the good of your peoples — thus for the Pride of the Race.

Also, we will make promise. So long as The Blood endures,

I shall know that your good is mine: ye shall feel that my strength is yours:

In the day of Armageddon, at the last great fight of all,

That Our House stand together and the pillars do not fall.

Draw now the three-fold knot firm on the nine-fold bands,

And the Law that ye make shall be law after the rule of your lands.

This for the waxen Heath, and that for the Wattle-bloom,

This for the Maple-leaf, and that for the southern Broom.

The Law that ye make shall be law and I do not press my will,

Because ye are Sons of The Blood and call me Mother still.

Now must ye speak to your kinsmen and they must speak to you,

After the use of the English, in straight-flung words and few.

Go to your work and be strong, halting not in your ways,

Baulking the end half-won for an instant dole of praise.

Stand to your work and be wise — certain of sword and pen,

Who are neither children nor Gods, but men in a world of men!

The First Chantey.

Mine was the woman to me, darkling I found her;

Haling her dumb from the camp, held her and bound her.

Hot rose her tribe on our track ere I had proved her;

Hearing her laugh in the gloom, greatly I loved her.

Swift through the forest we ran; none stood to guard us,

Few were my people and far; then the flood barred us —

Him we call Son of the Sea, sullen and swollen;

Panting we waited the death, stealer and stolen,

Yet ere they came to my lance laid for the slaughter,

Lightly she leaped to a log lapped in the water;

Holding on high and apart skins that arrayed her,

Called she the God of the Wind that he should aid her.

Life had the tree at that word, (Praise we the Giver!)

Otter-like left he the bank for the full river.

Far fell their axes behind, flashing and ringing,

Wonder was on me and fear, yet she was singing.

Low lay the land we had left. Now the blue bound us,

Even the Floor of the Gods level around us.

Whisper there was not, nor word, shadow nor showing,

Still the light stirred on the deep, glowing and growing.

Then did He leap to His place flaring from under,

He the Compeller, the Sun, bared to our wonder.

Nay, not a league from our eyes blinded with gazing,

Cleared He the womb of the world, huge and amazing!

This we beheld (and we live)— the Pit of the Burning,

Then the God spoke to the tree for our returning;

Back to the beach of our flight, fearless and slowly,

Back to our slayers he went: but we were holy.

Men that were hot in that hunt, women that followed,

Babes that were promised our bones, trembled and wallowed:

Over the necks of the tribe crouching and fawning —

Prophet and priestess we came back from the dawning!

The Last Chantey.

“And there was no more sea.”

Thus said The Lord in the Vault above the Cherubim,

Calling to the angels and the souls in their degree:

“Lo! Earth has passed away

On the smoke of Judgment Day.

That Our word may be established shall We gather up the sea?”

Loud sang the souls of the jolly, jolly mariners:

“Plague upon the hurricane that made us furl and flee!

But the war is done between us,

In the deep the Lord hath seen us —

Our bones we’ll leave the barracout’, and God may sink the sea!”

Then said the soul of Judas that betrayèd Him:

“Lord, hast Thou forgotten Thy covenant with me?

How once a year I go

To cool me on the floe,

And Ye take my day of mercy if Ye take away the sea!”

Then said the soul of the Angel of the Off-shore Wind:

(He that bits the thunder when the bull-mouthed breakers flee):

“I have watch and ward to keep

O’er Thy wonders on the deep,

And Ye take mine honour from me if Ye take away the sea!”

Loud sang the souls of the jolly, jolly mariners:

“Nay, but we were angry, and a hasty folk are we!

If we worked the ship together

Till she foundered in foul weather,

Are we babes that we should clamour for a vengeance on the sea?”

Then said the souls of the slaves that men threw overboard:

“Kennelled in the picaroon a weary band were we;

But Thy arm was strong to save,

And it touched us on the wave,

And we drowsed the long tides idle till Thy Trumpets tore the sea.”

Then cried the soul of the stout Apostle Paul to God:

“Once we frapped a ship, and she laboured woundily.

There were fourteen score of these,

And they blessed Thee on their knees,

When they learned Thy Grace and Glory under Malta by the sea.”

Loud sang the souls of the jolly, jolly mariners,

Plucking at their harps, and they plucked unhandily:

“Our thumbs are rough and tarred,

And the tune is something hard —

May we lift a Deep-sea Chantey such as seamen use at sea?”

Then said the souls of the gentlemen-adventurers —

Fettered wrist to bar all for red iniquity:

“Ho, we revel in our chains

O’er the sorrow that was Spain’s;

Heave or sink it, leave or drink it, we were masters of the sea!”

Up spake the soul of a gray Gothavn ‘speckshioner —

(He that led the flinching in the fleets of fair Dundee):

“Ho, the ringer and right whale,

And the fish we struck for sale,

Will Ye whelm them all for wantonness that wallow in the sea?”

Loud sang the souls of the jolly, jolly mariners,

Crying: “Under Heaven, here is neither lead nor lea!

Must we sing for evermore

On the windless, glassy floor?

Take back your golden fiddles and we’ll beat to open sea!”

Then stooped the Lord, and He called the good sea up to Him,

And ‘stablished his borders unto all eternity,

That such as have no pleasure

For to praise the Lord by measure,

They may enter into galleons and serve Him on the sea.

Sun, wind, and cloud shall fail not from the face of it,

Stinging, ringing spindrift, nor the fulmar flying free;

And the ships shall go abroad

To the glory of the Lord

Who heard the silly sailor-folk and gave them back their sea!

The Merchantmen.

King Solomon drew merchantmen,

Because of his desire

For peacocks, apes, and ivory,

From Tarshish unto Tyre:

With cedars out of Lebanon

Which Hiram rafted down,

But we be only sailormen

That use in London town.

Coastwise — cross-seas — round the world and back again —

Where the flaw shall head us or the full Trade suits —

Plain-sail — storm-sail — lay your board and tack again —

And that’s the way we’ll pay Paddy Doyle for his boots!

We bring no store of ingots,

Of spice or precious stones,

But that we have we gathered

With sweat and aching bones:

In flame beneath the tropics,

In frost upon the floe,

And jeopardy of every wind

That does between them go.

And some we got by purchase,

And some we had by trade,

And some we found by courtesy

Of pike and carronade,

At midnight, ‘mid-sea meetings,

For charity to keep,

And light the rolling homeward-bound

That rode a foot too deep.

By sport of bitter weather

We’re walty, strained, and scarred

From the kentledge on the kelson

To the slings upon the yard.

Six oceans had their will of us

To carry all away —

Our galley ‘s in the Baltic,

And our boom ‘s in Mossel Bay!

We’ve floundered off the Texel,

Awash with sodden deals,

We’ve slipped from Valparaiso

With the Norther at our heels:

We’ve ratched beyond the Crossets

That tusk the Southern Pole,

And dipped our gunnels under

To the dread Agulhas roll.

Beyond all outer charting

We sailed where none have sailed,

And saw the land-lights burning

On islands none have hailed;

Our hair stood up for wonder,

But, when the night was done,

There danced the deep to windward

Blue-empty ‘neath the sun!

Strange consorts rode beside us

And brought us evil luck;

The witch-fire climbed our channels,

And danced on vane and truck:

Till, through the red tornado,

That lashed us nigh to blind,

We saw The Dutchman plunging,

Full canvas, head to wind!

We’ve heard the Midnight Leadsman

That calls the black deep down —

Ay, thrice we’ve heard The Swimmer,

The Thing that may not drown.

On frozen bunt and gasket

The sleet-cloud drave her hosts,

When, manned by more than signed with us,

We passed the Isle o’ Ghosts!

And north, amid the hummocks,

A biscuit-toss below,

We met the silent shallop

That frighted whalers know;

For, down a cruel ice-lane,

That opened as he sped,

We saw dead Henry Hudson

Steer, North by West, his dead.

So dealt God’s waters with us

Beneath the roaring skies,

So walked His signs and marvels

All naked to our eyes:

But we were heading homeward

With trade to lose or make —

Good Lord, they slipped behind us

In the tailing of our wake!

Let go, let go the anchors;

Now shamed at heart are we

To bring so poor a cargo home

That had for gift the sea!

Let go the great bow-anchors —

Ah, fools were we and blind —

The worst we baled with utter toil,

The best we left behind!

Coastwise — cross-seas — round the world and back again,

Whither the flaw shall fail us or the Trades drive down:

Plain-sail — storm-sail — lay your board and tack again —

And all to bring a cargo up to London Town!

McAndrews’ Hymn.

Lord, Thou hast made this world below the shadow of a dream,

An’, taught by time, I tak’ it so — exceptin’ always Steam.

From coupler-flange to spindle-guide I see Thy Hand, O God —

Predestination in the stride o’ yon connectin’-rod.

John Calvin might ha’ forged the same — enorrmous, certain, slow —

Ay, wrought it in the furnace-flame — my “Institutio.”

I cannot get my sleep to-night; old bones are hard to please;

I’ll stand the middle watch up here — alone wi’ God an’ these

My engines, after ninety days o’ race an’ rack an’ strain

Through all the seas of all Thy world, slam-bangin’ home again.

Slam-bang too much — they knock a wee — the crosshead-gibs are loose;

But thirty thousand mile o’ sea has gied them fair excuse. . . .

Fine, clear an’ dark — a full-draught breeze, wi’ Ushant out o’ sight,

An’ Ferguson relievin’ Hay. Old girl, ye’ll walk to-night!

His wife’s at Plymouth. . . . Seventy — One — Two — Three since he began —

Three turns for Mistress Ferguson . . . an’ who’s to blame the man?

There’s none at any port for me, by drivin’ fast or slow,

Since Elsie Campbell went to Thee, Lord, thirty years ago.

(The year the Sarah Sands was burned. Oh roads we used to tread,

Fra’ Maryhill to Pollokshaws — fra’ Govan to Parkhead!)

Not but they’re ceevil on the Board. Ye’ll hear Sir Kenneth say:

“Good morrn, McAndrews! Back again? An’ how’s your bilge today?”

Miscallin’ technicalities but handin’ me my chair

To drink Madeira wi’ three Earls — the auld Fleet Engineer,

That started as a boiler-whelp — when steam and he were low.

I mind the time we used to serve a broken pipe wi’ tow.

Ten pound was all the pressure then — Eh! Eh! — a man wad drive;

An’ here, our workin’ gauges give one hunder’ fifty-five!

We’re creepin’ on wi’ each new rig — less weight an’ larger power:

There’ll be the loco-boiler next an’ thirty knots an hour!

Thirty an’ more. What I ha’ seen since ocean-steam began

Leaves me no doot for the machine: but what about the man?

The man that counts, wi’ all his runs, one million mile o’ sea:

Four time the span from earth to moon. . . . How far, O Lord, from Thee?

That wast beside him night an’ day. Ye mind my first typhoon?

It scoughed the skipper on his way to jock wi’ the saloon.

Three feet were on the stokehold floor — just slappin’ to an’ fro —

An’ cast me on a furnace-door. I have the marks to show.

Marks! I ha’ marks o’ more than burns — deep in my soul an’ black,

An’ times like this, when things go smooth, my wickudness comes back.

The sins o’ four and forty years, all up an’ down the seas,

Clack an’ repeat like valves half-fed. . . . Forgie’s our trespasses.

Nights when I’d come on deck to mark, wi’ envy in my gaze,

The couples kittlin’ in the dark between the funnel stays;

Years when I raked the ports wi’ pride to fill my cup o’ wrong —

Judge not, O Lord, my steps aside at Gay Street in Hong–Kong!

Blot out the wastrel hours of mine in sin when I abode —

Jane Harrigan’s an’ Number Nine, The Reddick an’ Grant Road!

An’ waur than all — my crownin’ sin — rank blasphemy an’ wild.

I was not four and twenty then — Ye wadna’ judge a child?

I’d seen the Tropics first that run — new fruit, new smells, new air —

How could I tell — blind-fou wi’ sun — the Deil was lurkin’ there?

By day like playhouse-scenes the shore slid past our sleepy eyes;

By night those soft, lasceevious stars leered from those velvet skies,

In port (we used no cargo-steam) I’d daunder down the streets —

An ijjit grinnin’ in a dream — for shells an’ parrakeets,

An’ walkin’-sticks o’ carved bamboo an’ blowfish stuffed an’ dried —

Fillin’ my bunk wi’ rubbishry the Chief put overside.

Till, off Sumbawa Head, Ye mind, I heard a land-breeze ca’

Milk-warm wi’ breath o’ spice an’ bloom: “McAndrews, come awa’!”

Firm, clear an’ low — no haste, no hate — the ghostly whisper went,

Just statin’ eevidential facts beyon’ all argument:

“Your mither’s God’s a graspin’ deil, the shadow o’ yoursel’,

Got out o’ books by meenisters clean daft on Heaven an’ Hell.

They mak’ him in the Broomielaw, o’ Glasgie cold an’ dirt,

A jealous, pridefu’ fetich, lad, that’s only strong to hurt,

Ye’ll not go back to Him again an’ kiss His red-hot rod,

But come wi’ Us” (Now, who were They?) “an’ know the Leevin’ God,

That does not kipper souls for sport or break a life in jest,

But swells the ripenin’ cocoanuts an’ ripes the woman’s breast.”

An’ there it stopped: cut off: no more; that quiet, certain voice —

For me, six months o’ twenty-four, to leave or take at choice.

’Twas on me like a thunderclap — it racked me through an’ through —

Temptation past the show o’ speech, unnamable an’ new —

The Sin against the Holy Ghost? . . . An’ under all, our screw.

That storm blew by but left behind her anchor-shiftin’ swell,

Thou knowest all my heart an’ mind, Thou knowest, Lord, I fell.

Third on the Mary Gloster then, and first that night in Hell!

Yet was Thy hand beneath my head: about my feet Thy care —

Fra’ Deli clear to Torres Strait, the trial o’ despair,

But when we touched the Barrier Reef Thy answer to my prayer!

We dared na run that sea by night but lay an’ held our fire,

An’ I was drowzin’ on the hatch — sick — sick wi’ doubt an’ tire:

Better the sight of eyes that see than wanderin’ o’ desire!

Ye mind that word? Clear as our gongs — again, an’ once again,

When rippin’ down through coral-trash ran out our moorin’-chain;

An’ by Thy Grace I had the Light to see my duty plain.

Light on the engine-room — no more — clear as our carbons burn.

I’ve lost it since a thousand times, but never past return.

* * * * *

Obsairve! Per annum we’ll have here two thousand souls aboard —

Think not I dare to justify myself before the Lord,

But — average fifteen hunder’ souls safe-borne fra’ port to port —

I am o’ service to my kind. Ye wadna’ blame the thought?

Maybe they steam from grace to wrath — to sin by folly led —

It isna mine to judge their path — their lives are on my head.

Mine at the last — when all is done it all comes back to me,

The fault that leaves six thousand ton a log upon the sea.

We’ll tak’ one stretch — three weeks an’ odd by any road ye steer —

Fra’ Cape Town east to Wellington — ye need an engineer.

Fail there — ye’ve time to weld your shaft — ay, eat it, ere ye’re spoke,

Or make Kerguelen under sail — three jiggers burned wi’ smoke!

An’ home again, the Rio run: it’s no child’s play to go

Steamin’ to bell for fourteen days o’ snow an’ floe an’ blow —

The bergs like kelpies overside that girn an’ turn an’ shift

Whaur, grindin’ like the Mills o’ God, goes by the big South drift.

(Hail, snow an’ ice that praise the Lord: I’ve met them at their work,

An’ wished we had anither route or they anither kirk.)

Yon’s strain, hard strain, o’ head an’ hand, for though Thy Power brings

All skill to naught, Ye’ll understand a man must think o’ things.

Then, at the last, we’ll get to port an’ hoist their baggage clear —

The passengers, wi’ gloves an’ canes — an’ this is what I’ll hear:

“Well, thank ye for a pleasant voyage. The tender’s comin’ now.”

While I go testin’ follower-bolts an’ watch the skipper bow.

They’ve words for everyone but me — shake hands wi’ half the crew,

Except the dour Scots engineer, the man they never knew.

An’ yet I like the wark for all we’ve dam’ few pickin’s here —

No pension, an’ the most we earn’s four hunder’ pound a year.

Better myself abroad? Maybe. I’d sooner starve than sail

Wi’ such as call a snifter-rod ross. . . . French for nightingale.

Commeesion on my stores? Some do; but I can not afford

To lie like stewards wi’ patty-pans. I’m older than the Board.

A bonus on the coal I save? Ou ay, the Scots are close,

But when I grudge the strength Ye gave I’ll grudge their food to those.

(There’s bricks that I might recommend — an’ clink the fire-bars cruel.

No! Welsh — Wangarti at the worst — an’ damn all patent fuel!)

Inventions? Ye must stay in port to mak’ a patent pay.

My Deeferential Valve–Gear taught me how that business lay,

I blame no chaps wi’ clearer head for aught they make or sell.

I found that I could not invent an’ look to these — as well.

So, wrestled wi’ Apollyon — Nah! — fretted like a bairn —

But burned the workin’-plans last run wi’ all I hoped to earn.

Ye know how hard an Idol dies, an’ what that meant to me —

E’en tak’ it for a sacrifice acceptable to Thee. . . .

Below there! Oiler! What’s your wark? Ye find her runnin’ hard?

Ye needn’t swill the cap wi’ oil — this isn’t the Cunard.

Ye thought? Ye are not paid to think. Go, sweat that off again!

Tck! Tck! It’s deeficult to sweer nor tak’ The Name in vain!

Men, ay an’ women, call me stern. Wi’ these to oversee

Ye’ll note I’ve little time to burn on social repartee.

The bairns see what their elders miss; they’ll hunt me to an’ fro,

Till for the sake of — well, a kiss — I tak’ ’em down below.

That minds me of our Viscount loon — Sir Kenneth’s kin — the chap

Wi’ russia leather tennis-shoon an’ spar-decked yachtin’-cap.

I showed him round last week, o’er all — an’ at the last says he:

“Mister McAndrews, don’t you think steam spoils romance at sea?”

Damned ijjit! I’d been doon that morn to see what ailed the throws,

Manholin’, on my back — the cranks three inches from my nose.

Romance! Those first-class passengers they like it very well,

Printed an’ bound in little books; but why don’t poets tell?

I’m sick of all their quirks an’ turns — the loves an’ doves they dream —

Lord, send a man like Robbie Burns to sing the Song o’ Steam!

To match wi’ Scotia’s noblest speech yon orchestra sublime

Whaurto — uplifted like the Just — the tail-rods mark the time.

The crank-throws give the double-bass; the feed-pump sobs an’ heaves:

An’ now the main eccentrics start their quarrel on the sheaves.

Her time, her own appointed time, the rocking link-head bides,

Till — hear that note? — the rod’s return whings glimmerin’ through the guides.

They’re all awa’! True beat, full power, the clangin’ chorus goes

Clear to the tunnel where they sit, my purrin’ dynamoes.

Interdependence absolute, foreseen, ordained, decreed,

To work, Ye’ll note, at any tilt an’ every rate o’ speed.

Fra’ skylight-lift to furnace-bars, backed, bolted, braced an’ stayed,

An’ singin’ like the Mornin’ Stars for joy that they are made;

While, out o’ touch o’ vanity, the sweatin’ thrust-block says:

“Not unto us the praise, or man — not unto us the praise!”

Now, a’ together, hear them lift their lesson — theirs an’ mine:

“Law, Orrder, Duty an’ Restraint, Obedience, Discipline!”

Mill, forge an’ try-pit taught them that when roarin’ they arose,

An’ whiles I wonder if a soul was gied them wi’ the blows.

Oh for a man to weld it then, in one trip-hammer strain,

Till even first-class passengers could tell the meanin’ plain!

But no one cares except mysel’ that serve an’ understand

My seven thousand horse-power here. Eh, Lord! They’re grand — they’re grand!

Uplift am I? When first in store the new-made beasties stood,

Were Ye cast down that breathed the Word declarin’ all things good?

Not so! O’ that warld-liftin’ joy no after-fall could vex,

Ye’ve left a glimmer still to cheer the Man — the Arrtifex!

That holds, in spite o’ knock and scale, o’ friction, waste an’ slip,

An’ by that light — now, mark my word — we’ll build the Perfect Ship.

I’ll never last to judge her lines or take her curve — not I.

But I ha’ lived an’ I ha’ worked. All thanks to Thee, Most High!

An’ I ha’ done what I ha’ done — judge Thou if ill or well —

Always Thy Grace preventin’ me. . . . Losh! Yon’s the “Stand by” bell.

Pilot so soon? His flare it is. The mornin’-watch is set.

Well, God be thanked, as I was sayin’, I’m no Pelagian yet.

Now I’ll tak’ on. . . . ’Morrn, Ferguson. Man, have ye ever thought

What your good leddy costs in coal? . . . I’ll burn ’em down to port.

The Miracles.

I sent a message to my dear —

A thousand leagues and more to her —

The dumb sea-levels thrilled to hear,

And Lost Atlantis bore to her.

Behind my message hard I came,

And nigh had found a grave for me;

But that I launched of steel and flame

Did war against the wave for me.

Uprose the deep, by gale on gale,

To bid me change my mind again —

He broke his teeth along my rail,

And, roaring, swung behind again.

I stayed the sun at noon to tell

My way across the waste of it;

I read the storm before it fell

And made the better haste of it.

Afar, I hailed the land at night —

The towers I built had heard of me —

And, ere my rocket reached its height,

Had flashed my Love the word of me.

Earth gave her chosen men of strength

(They lived and strove and died for me)

To drive my road a nation’s length,

And toss the miles aside for me.

I snatched their toil to serve my needs —

Too slow their fleetest flew for me —

I tired twenty smoking steeds,

And bade them bait a new for me.

I sent the lightnings forth to see

Where hour by hour she waited me.

Among ten million one was she,

And surely all men hated me!

Dawn ran to meet us at my goal —

Ah, day no tongue shall tell again! —

And little folk of little soul

Rose up to buy and sell again!

The Native-Born.

We’ve drunk to the Queen — God bless her! —

We’ve drunk to our mothers’ land;

We’ve drunk to our English brother

(But he does not understand);

We’ve drunk to the wide creation,

And the Cross swings low to the morn,

Last toast, and of obligation,

A health to the Native-born!

They change their skies above them,

But not their hearts that roam!

We learned from our wistful mothers

To call old England “home”;

We read of the English sky-lark,

Of the spring in the English lanes,

But we screamed with the painted lories

As we rode on the dusty plains!

They passed with their old-world legends —

Their tales of wrong and dearth —

Our fathers held by purchase,

But we by the right of birth;

Our heart’s where they rocked our cradle,

Our love where we spent our toil,

And our faith and our hope and our honour

We pledge to our native soil!

I charge you charge your glasses —

I charge you drink with me

To the men of the Four New Nations,

And the Islands of the Sea —

To the last least lump of coral

That none may stand outside,

And our own good pride shall teach us

To praise our comrade’s pride.

To the hush of the breathless morning

On the thin, tin, crackling roofs,

To the haze of the burned back-ranges

And the dust of the shoeless hoofs —

To the risk of a death by drowning,

To the risk of a death by drouth —

To the men of a million acres,

To the Sons of the Golden South.

To the Sons of the Golden South, (Stand up!)

And the life we live and know,

Let a fellow sing o’ the little things he cares about,

If a fellow fights for the little things he cares about

With the weight of a single blow!

To the smoke of a hundred coasters,

To the sheep on a thousand hills,

To the sun that never blisters,

To the rain that never chills —

To the land of the waiting springtime,

To our five-meal, meat-fed men,

To the tall deep-bosomed women,

And the children nine and ten!

And the children nine and ten, (Stand up!)

And the life we live and know,

Let a fellow sing o’ the little things he cares about,

If a fellow fights for the little things he cares about

With the weight of a two-fold blow!

To the far-flung fenceless prairie

Where the quick cloud-shadows trail,

To our neighbour’s barn in the offing

And the line of the new-cut rail;

To the plough in her league-long furrow

With the gray Lake gulls behind —

To the weight of a half-year’s winter

And the warm wet western wind!

To the home of the floods and thunder,

To her pale dry healing blue —

To the lift of the great Cape combers,

And the smell of the baked Karroo.

To the growl of the sluicing stamp-head —

To the reef and the water-gold,

To the last and the largest Empire,

To the map that is half unrolled!

To our dear dark foster-mothers,

To the heathen songs they sung —

To the heathen speech we babbled

Ere we came to the white man’s tongue.

To the cool of our deep verandas —

To the blaze of our jewelled main,

To the night, to the palms in the moonlight,

And the fire-fly in the cane!

To the hearth of our people’s people —

To her well-ploughed windy sea,

To the hush of our dread high-altars

Where the Abbey makes us We;

To the grist of the slow-ground ages,

To the gain that is yours and mine —

To the Bank of the Open Credit,

To the Power-house of the Line!

We’ve drunk to the Queen — God bless her! —

We’ve drunk to our mothers’ land;

We’ve drunk to our English brother

(And we hope he’ll understand).

We’ve drunk as much as we’re able,

And the Cross swings low to the morn;

Last toast — and your foot on the table! —

A health to the Native-born!

A health to the Native-born, (Stand up!)

We’re six white men arow,

All bound to sing o’ the little things we care about,

All bound to fight for the little things we care about

With the weight of a six-fold blow!

By the might of our cable-tow, (Take hands!)

From the Orkneys to the Horn,

All round the world (and a little loop to pull it by),

All round the world (and a little strap to buckle it),

A health to the Native-born!

The King.

“Farewell, Romance!” the Cave-men said;

“With bone well carved he went away,

Flint arms the ignoble arrowhead,

And jasper tips the spear today.

Changed are the Gods of Hunt and Dance,

And he with these. Farewell, Romance!”

“Farewell, Romance!” the Lake-folk sighed;

“We lift the weight of flatling years;

The caverns of the mountain side

Hold him who scorns our hutted piers.

Lost hills whereby we dare not dwell,

Guard ye his rest. Romance, farewell!”

“Farewell, Romance!” the Soldier spoke;

“By sleight of sword we may not win,

But scuffle ‘mid uncleanly smoke

Of arquebus and culverin.

Honour is lost, and none may tell

Who paid good blows. Romance, farewell!”

“Farewell, Romance!” the Traders cried;

“Our keels ha’ lain with every sea;

The dull-returning wind and tide

Heave up the wharf where we would be;

The known and noted breezes swell

Our trudging sail. Romance, farewell!”

“Good-bye, Romance!” the Skipper said;

“He vanished with the coal we burn;

Our dial marks full steam ahead,

Our speed is timed to half a turn.

Sure as the tidal trains we ply

‘Twixt port and port. Romance, good-bye!”

“Romance!” the Season-tickets mourn,

He never ran to catch his train,

But passed with coach and guard and horn —

And left the local — late again!

Confound Romance!” . . . And all unseen

Romance brought up the nine-fifteen.

His hand was on the lever laid,

His oil-can soothed the worrying cranks,

His whistle waked the snowbound grade,

His fog-horn cut the reeking Banks;

In dock and deep and mine and mill

The Boy-god reckless laboured still.

Robed, crowned and throned, he wove his spell,

Where heart-blood beat or hearth-smoke curled,

With unconsidered miracle,

Hedged in a backward-gazing world;

Then taught his chosen bard to say:

“The King was with us — yesterday!”

The Rhyme of the Three Sealers.

Away by the lands of the Japanee,

When the paper lanterns glow

And the crews of all the shipping drink

In the house of Blood Street Joe,

At twilight, when the landward breeze

Brings up the harbour noise,

And ebb of Yokohama Bay

Swigs chattering through the buoys,

In Cisco’s Dewdrop Dining Rooms

They tell the tale anew

Of a hidden sea and a hidden fight,

When the Baltic ran from the Northern Light

And the Stralsund fought the two!

Now this is the Law of the Muscovite, that he proves with shot and steel,

When ye come by his isles in the Smoky Sea ye must not take the seal,

Where the gray sea goes nakedly between the weed-hung shelves,

And the little blue fox he is bred for his skin and the seal they breed for themselves;

For when the matkas seek the shore to drop their pups aland,

The great man-seal haul out of the sea, aroaring, band by band;

And when the first September gales have slaked their rutting-wrath,

The great man-seal haul back to the sea and no man knows their path.

Then dark they lie and stark they lie — rookery, dune, and floe,

And the Northern Lights come down o’ nights to dance with the houseless snow.

And God who clears the grounding berg and steers the grinding floe,

He hears the cry of the little kit-fox and the lemming on the snow.

But since our women must walk gay and money buys their gear,

The sealing-boats they filch that way at hazard year by year.

English they be and Japanee that hang on the Brown Bear’s flank,

And some be Scot, but the worst, God wot, and the boldest thieves, be Yank!

It was the sealer Northern Light, to the Smoky Seas she bore.

With a stovepipe stuck from a starboard port and the Russian flag at her fore.

(Baltic, Stralsund, and Northern Light — oh! they were birds of a feather —

Slipping away to the Smoky Seas, three seal-thieves together!)

And at last she came to a sandy cove and the Baltic lay therein,

But her men were up with the herding seal to drive and club and skin.

There were fifteen hundred skins abeach, cool pelt and proper fur,

When the Northern Light drove into the bight and the sea-mist drove with her.

The Baltic called her men and weighed — she could not choose but run —

For a stovepipe seen through the closing mist, it shows like a four-inch gun

(And loss it is that is sad as death to lose both trip and ship

And lie for a rotting contraband on Vladivostock slip).

She turned and dived in the sea-smother as a rabbit dives in the whins,

And the Northern Light sent up her boats to steal the stolen skins.

They had not brought a load to side or slid their hatches clear,

When they were aware of a sloop-of-war, ghost-white and very near.

Her flag she showed, and her guns she showed — three of them, black, abeam,

And a funnel white with the crusted salt, but never a show of steam.

There was no time to man the brakes, they knocked the shackle free,

And the Northern Light stood out again, goose-winged to open sea.

(For life it is that is worse than death, by force of Russian law

To work in the mines of mercury that loose the teeth in your jaw!)

They had not run a mile from shore — they heard no shots behind —

When the skipper smote his hand on his thigh and threw her up in the wind:

“Bluffed — raised out on a bluff,” said he, “for if my name’s Tom Hall,

You must set a thief to catch a thief — and a thief has caught us all!

By every butt in Oregon and every spar in Maine,

The hand that spilled the wind from her sail was the hand of Reuben Paine!

He has rigged and trigged her with paint and spar, and, faith, he has faked her well —

But I’d know the Stralsund’s deckhouse yet from here to the booms o’ Hell.

Oh, once we ha’ met at Baltimore, and twice on Boston pier,

But the sickest day for you, Reuben Paine, was the day that you came here —

The day that you came here, my lad, to scare us from our seal

With your funnel made o’ your painted cloth, and your guns o’ rotten deal!

Ring and blow for the Baltic now, and head her back to the bay,

For we’ll come into the game again with a double deck to play!”

They rang and blew the sealers’ call — the poaching cry o’ the sea —

And they raised the Baltic out of the mist, and an angry ship was she:

And blind they groped through the whirling white, and blind to the bay again,

Till they heard the creak of the Stralsund’s boom and the clank of her mooring-chain.

They laid them down by bitt and boat, their pistols in their belts,

And: “Will you fight for it, Reuben Paine, or will you share the pelts?”

A dog-toothed laugh laughed Reuben Paine, and bared his flenching knife.

“Yea, skin for skin, and all that he hath a man will give for his life;

But I’ve six thousand skins below, and Yeddo Port to see,

And there’s never a law of God or man runs north of Fifty–Three.

So go in peace to the naked seas with empty holds to fill,

And I’ll be good to your seal this catch, as many as I shall kill.”

Answered the snap of a closing lock and the jar of a gun-butt slid,

But the tender fog shut fold on fold to hide the wrong they did.

The weeping fog rolled fold on fold the wrath of man to cloak,

And the flame-spurts pale ran down the rail as the sealing-rifles spoke.

The bullets bit on bend and butt, the splinter slivered free,

(Little they trust to sparrow-dust that stop the seal in his sea!)

The thick smoke hung and would not shift, leaden it lay and blue,

But three were down on the Baltic’s deck and two of the Stralsund’s crew.

An arm’s length out and overside the banked fog held them bound;

But, as they heard or groan or word, they fired at the sound.

For one cried out on the name of God, and one to have him cease;

And the questing volley found them both and bade them hold their peace.

And one called out on a heathen joss and one on the Virgin’s Name;

And the schooling bullet leaped across and showed them whence they came.

And in the waiting silences the rudder whined beneath,

And each man drew his watchful breath slow taken ‘tween the teeth —

Trigger and ear and eye acock, knit brow and hard-drawn lips —

Bracing his feet by chock and cleat for the rolling of the ships:

Till they heard the cough of a wounded man that fought in the fog for breath,

Till they heard the torment of Reuben Paine that wailed upon his death:

“The tides they’ll go through Fundy Race but I’ll go never more

And see the hogs from ebb-tide mark turn scampering back to shore.

No more I’ll see the trawlers drift below the Bass Rock ground,

Or watch the tall Fall steamer lights tear blazing up the Sound.

Sorrow is me, in a lonely sea and a sinful fight I fall,

But if there’s law o’ God or man you’ll swing for it yet, Tom Hall!”

Tom Hall stood up by the quarter-rail. “Your words in your teeth,” said he.

“There’s never a law of God or man runs north of Fifty Three.

So go in grace with Him to face, and an ill-spent life behind,

And I’ll take care o’ your widows, Rube, as many as I shall find.”

A Stralsund man shot blind and large, and a warlock Finn was he,

And he hit Tom Hall with a bursting ball a hand’s-breadth over the knee.

Tom Hall caught hold by the topping-lift, and sat him down with an oath,

“You’ll wait a little, Rube,” he said, “the Devil has called for both.

The Devil is driving both this tide, and the killing-grounds are close,

And we’ll go up to the Wrath of God as the holluschickie goes.

O men, put back your guns again and lay your rifles by,

We’ve fought our fight, and the best are down. Let up and let us die!

Quit firing, by the bow there — quit! Call off the Baltic’s crew!

You’re sure of Hell as me or Rube — but wait till we get through.”

There went no word between the ships, but thick and quick and loud

The life-blood drummed on the dripping decks, with the fog-dew from the shroud,

The sea-pull drew them side by side, gunnel to gunnel laid,

And they felt the sheerstrakes pound and clear, but never a word was said.

Then Reuben Paine cried out again before his spirit passed:

“Have I followed the sea for thirty years to die in the dark at last?

Curse on her work that has nipped me here with a shifty trick unkind —

I have gotten my death where I got my bread, but I dare not face it blind.

Curse on the fog! Is there never a wind of all the winds I knew

To clear the smother from off my chest, and let me look at the blue?”

The good fog heard — like a splitten sail, to left and right she tore,

And they saw the sun-dogs in the haze and the seal upon the shore.

Silver and gray ran spit and bay to meet the steel-backed tide,

And pinched and white in the clearing light the crews stared overside.

O rainbow-gay the red pools lay that swilled and spilled and spread,

And gold, raw gold, the spent shell rolled between the careless dead —

The dead that rocked so drunkenwise to weather and to lee,

And they saw the work their hands had done as God had bade them see!

And a little breeze blew over the rail that made the headsails lift,

But no man stood by wheel or sheet, and they let the schooners drift.

And the rattle rose in Reuben’s throat and he cast his soul with a cry,

And “Gone already?” Tom Hall he said. “Then it’s time for me to die.”

His eyes were heavy with great sleep and yearning for the land,

And he spoke as a man that talks in dreams, his wound beneath his hand.

“Oh, there comes no good in the westering wind that backs against the sun;

Wash down the decks — they’re all too red — and share the skins and run,

Baltic, Stralsund, and Northern Light — clean share and share for all,

You’ll find the fleets off Tolstoi Mees, but you will not find Tom Hall.

Evil he did in shoal-water and blacker sin on the deep,

But now he’s sick of watch and trick, and now he’ll turn and sleep.

He’ll have no more of the crawling sea that made him suffer so,

But he’ll lie down on the killing-grounds where the holluschickie go.

And west you’ll turn and south again, beyond the sea-fog’s rim,

And tell the Yoshiwara girls to burn a stick for him.

And you’ll not weight him by the heels and dump him overside,

But carry him up to the sand-hollows to die as Bering died,

And make a place for Reuben Paine that knows the fight was fair,

And leave the two that did the wrong to talk it over there!”

Half-steam ahead by guess and lead, for the sun is mostly veiled —

Through fog to fog, by luck and log, sail ye as Bering sailed;

And, if the light shall lift aright to give your landfall plain,

North and by west, from Zapne Crest, ye raise the Crosses Twain.

Fair marks are they to the inner bay, the reckless poacher knows,

What time the scarred see-catchie lead their sleek seraglios.

Ever they hear the floe-pack clear, and the blast of the old bull-whale,

And the deep seal-roar that beats off shore above the loudest gale.

Ever they wait the winter’s hate as the thundering boorga calls,

Where northward look they to St. George, and westward to St. Paul’s.

Ever they greet the hunted fleet — lone keels off headlands drear —

When the sealing-schooners flit that way at hazard year by year.

Ever in Yokohama Port men tell the tale anew

Of a hidden sea and a hidden fight,

When the Baltic ran from the Northern Light

And the Stralsund fought the two!

The Derelict.

“And reports the derelict Mary Pollock still at sea.”

Shipping News.

I was the staunchest of our fleet

Till the Sea rose beneath our feet

Unheralded, in hatred past all measure.

Into his pits he stamped my crew,

Buffeted, blinded, bound and threw;

Bidding me eyeless wait upon his pleasure.

Man made me, and my will

Is to my maker still,

Whom now the currents con, the rollers steer —

Lifting forlorn to spy

Trailed smoke along the sky,

Falling afraid lest any keel come near.

Wrenched as the lips of thirst,

Wried, dried, and split and burst,

Bone-bleached my decks, wind-scoured to the graining;

And, jarred at every roll,

The gear that was my soul

Answers the anguish of my beams’ complaining.

For life that crammed me full,

Gangs of the prying gull

That shriek and scrabble on the riven hatches.

For roar that dumbed the gale

My hawse-pipes guttering wail,

Sobbing my heart out through the uncounted watches.

Blind in the hot blue ring

Through all my points I swing —

Swing and return to shift the sun anew.

Blind in my well-known sky

I hear the stars go by,

Mocking the prow that can not hold one true!

White on my wasted path

Wave after wave in wrath

Frets ‘gainst his fellow, warring where to send me.

Flung forward, heaved aside,

Witless and dazed I bide

The mercy of the comber that shall end me.

North where the bergs careen,

The spray of seas unseen

Smokes round my head and freezes in the falling;

South where the corals breed,

The footless, floating weed

Folds me and fouls me, strake on strake upcrawling.

I that was clean to run

My race against the sun —

Strength on the deep, am bawd to all disaster —

Whipped forth by night to meet

My sister’s careless feet,

And with a kiss betray her to my master!

Man made me, and my will

Is to my maker still —

To him and his, our peoples at their pier:

Lifting in hope to spy

Trailed smoke along the sky;

Falling afraid lest any keel come near!

The Song of the Banjo.

You couldn’t pack a Broadwood half a mile —

You mustn’t leave a fiddle in the damp —

You couldn’t raft an organ up the Nile,

And play it in an Equatorial swamp.

I travel with the cooking-pots and pails —

I’m sandwiched ‘tween the coffee and the pork —

And when the dusty column checks and tails,

You should hear me spur the rearguard to a walk!

With my “Pilly-willy-winky-winky popp!

[O it’s any tune that comes into my head!]

So I keep ’em moving forward till they drop;

So I play ’em up to water and to bed.

In the silence of the camp before the fight,

When it’s good to make your will and say your prayer,

You can hear my strumpty-tumpty overnight

Explaining ten to one was always fair.

I’m the prophet of the Utterly Absurd,

Of the Patently Impossible and Vain —

And when the Thing that Couldn’t has occurred,

Give me time to change my leg and go again.

With my “Tumpa-tumpa-tumpa-tum-pa tump!

In the desert where the dung-fed camp-smoke curled

There was never voice before us till I led our lonely chorus,

I— the war-drum of the White Man round the world!

By the bitter road the Younger Son must tread,

Ere he win to hearth and saddle of his own —

‘Mid the riot of the shearers at the shed,

In the silence of the herder’s hut alone —

In the twilight, on a bucket upside down,

Hear me babble what the weakest won’t confess —

I am Memory and Torment — I am Town!

I am all that ever went with evening dress!

With my “Tunk-a tunka-tunka-tunka-tunk!

[So the lights — the London lights — grow near and plain!]

So I rowel ’em afresh towards the Devil and the Flesh,

Till I bring my broken rankers home again.

In desire of many marvels over sea,

Where the new-raised tropic city sweats and roars,

I have sailed with Young Ulysses from the quay

Till the anchor rumbled down on stranger shores.

He is blooded to the open and the sky,

He is taken in a snare that shall not fail,

He shall hear me singing strongly, till he die,

Like the shouting of a backstay in a gale.

With my “Hya! Heeya! Heeya! Hullah! Haul!

[O the green that thunders aft along the deck!]

Are you sick o’ towns and men? You must sign and sail again,

For it’s “Johnny Bowlegs, pack your kit and trek!”

Through the gorge that gives the stars at noon-day clear —

Up the pass that packs the scud beneath our wheel —

Round the bluff that sinks her thousand fathom sheer —

Down the valley with our guttering brakes asqueal:

Where the trestle groans and quivers in the snow,

Where the many-shedded levels loop and twine,

So I lead my reckless children from below

Till we sing the Song of Roland to the pine.

With my “Tinka-tinka-tinka-tinka-tink!

[And the axe has cleared the mountain, croup and crest!]

So we ride the iron stallions down to drink,

Through the cañons to the waters of the West!

And the tunes that mean so much to you alone —

Common tunes that make you choke and blow your nose,

Vulgar tunes that bring the laugh that brings the groan —

I can rip your very heartstrings out with those;

With the feasting, and the folly, and the fun —

And the lying, and the lusting, and the drink,

And the merry play that drops you, when you’re done,

To the thoughts that burn like irons if you think.

With my “Plunka-lunka-lunka-lunka-lunk!

Here’s a trifle on account of pleasure past,

Ere the wit that made you win gives you eyes to see your sin

And the heavier repentance at the last.

Let the organ moan her sorrow to the roof —

I have told the naked stars the grief of man.

Let the trumpets snare the foeman to the proof —

I have known Defeat, and mocked it as we ran.

My bray ye may not alter nor mistake

When I stand to jeer the fatted Soul of Things,

But the Song of Lost Endeavour that I make,

Is it hidden in the twanging of the strings?

With my “Ta-ra-rara-rara-ra-ra-rrrp!

[Is it naught to you that hear and pass me by?]

But the word — the word is mine, when the order moves the line

And the lean, locked ranks go roaring down to die.

The grandam of my grandam was the Lyre —

[O the blue below the little fisher-huts!]

That the Stealer stooping beach ward filled with fire,

Till she bore my iron head and ringing guts!

By the wisdom of the centuries I speak —

To the tune of yestermorn I set the truth —

I, the joy of life unquestioned — I, the Greek —

I, the everlasting Wonder Song of Youth!

With my “Tinka-tinka-tinka-tinka-tink!

[What d’ye lack, my noble masters? What d’ye lack?]

So I draw the world together link by link:

Yea, from Delos up to Limerick and back!

“The Liner She’s a Lady.”

The Liner she’s a lady, an’ she never looks nor ’eeds —

The Man-o’-War’s ’er ’usband, an’ ’e gives ’er all she needs;

But, oh, the little cargo-boats, that sail the wet seas roun’,

They’re just the same as you an’ me a-plyin’ up an’ down!

Plyin’ up an’ down, Jenny, ’angin’ round the Yard,

All the way by Fratton tram down to Portsmouth ’Ard;

Anythin’ for business, an’ we’re growin’ old —

Plyin’ up an’ down, Jenny, waitin’ in the cold!

The Liner she’s a lady by the paint upon ’er face,

An’ if she meets an accident they call it sore disgrace:

The Man-o’-War’s ’er ’usband, and ’e’s always ’andy by,

But, oh, the little cargo-boats! they’ve got to load or die.

The Liner she’s a lady, and ’er route is cut an’ dried;

The Man-o’-War’s ’er ’usband, an’ ’e always keeps beside;

But, oh, the little cargo-boats that ’aven’t any man!

They’ve got to do their business first, and make the most they can.

The Liner she’s a lady, and if a war should come,

The Man-o’-War’s ’er ’usband, and ’e’d bid ’er stay at home;

But, oh, the little cargo-boats that fill with every tide!

’E’d ’ave to up an’ fight for them, for they are England’s pride.

The Liner she’s a lady, but if she wasn’t made,

There still would be the cargo-boats for ’ome an’ foreign trade.

The Man-o’-War’s ’er ’usband, but if we wasn’t ’ere,

’E wouldn’t have to fight at all for ’ome an’ friends so dear.

’Ome an’ friends so dear, Jenny, ’angin’ round the Yard,

All the way by Fratton tram down to Portsmouth ’Ard;

Anythin’ for business, an’ we’re growin’ old —

’Ome an’ friends so dear, Jenny, waitin’ in the cold!

Mulholland’s Contract.

The fear was on the cattle, for the gale was on the sea,

An’ the pens broke up on the lower deck an’ let the creatures free —

An’ the lights went out on the lower deck, an’ no one down but me.

I had been singin’ to them to keep ’em quiet there,

For the lower deck is the dangerousest, requirin’ constant care,

An’ give to me as the strongest man, though used to drink and swear.

I see my chance was certain of bein’ horned or trod,

For the lower deck was packed with steers thicker ‘n peas in a pod,

An’ more pens broke at every roll — so I made a Contract with God.

An’ by the terms of the Contract, as I have read the same,

If He got me to port alive I would exalt His name,

An’ praise His Holy Majesty till further orders came.

He saved me from the cattle an’ He saved me from the sea,

For they found me ‘tween two drownded ones where the roll had landed me —

An’ a four-inch crack on top of my head, as crazy as could be.

But that were done by a stanchion, an’ not by a bullock at all,

An’ I lay still for seven weeks convalessing of the fall,

An’ readin’ the shiny Scripture texts in the Seamen’s Hospital.

An’ I spoke to God of our Contract, an’ He says to my prayer:

“I never puts on My ministers no more than they can bear.

So back you go to the cattle-boats an’ preach My Gospel there.

“For human life is chancy at any kind of trade,

But most of all, as well you know, when the steers are mad-afraid;

So you go back to the cattle-boats an’ preach ’em as I’ve said.

“They must quit drinkin’ an’ swearin’, they mustn’t knife on a blow,

They must quit gamblin’ their wages, and you must preach it so;

For now those boats are more like Hell than anything else I know.”

I didn’t want to do it, for I knew what I should get,

An’ I wanted to preach Religion, handsome an’ out of the wet,

But the Word of the Lord were lain on me, an’ I done what I was set.

I have been smit an’ bruisèd, as warned would be the case,

An’ turned my cheek to the smiter exactly as Scripture says;

But following that, I knocked him down an’ led him up to Grace.

An’ we have preaching on Sundays whenever the sea is calm,

An’ I use no knife nor pistol an’ I never take no harm,

For the Lord abideth back of me to guide my fighting arm.

An’ I sign for four pound ten a month and save the money clear,

An’ I am in charge of the lower deck, an’ I never lose a steer;

An’ I believe in Almighty God an’ I preach His Gospel here.

The skippers say I’m crazy, but I can prove ’em wrong,

For I am in charge of the lower deck with all that doth belong —

Which they would not give to a lunatic, and the competition so strong!

Anchor Song.

(From Many Inventions).

Heh! Walk her round. Heave, ah heave her short again!

Over, snatch her over, there, and hold her on the pawl.

Loose all sail, and brace your yards aback and full —

Ready jib to pay her off and heave short all!

Well, ah fare you well; we can stay no more with you, my love —

Down, set down your liquor and your girl from off your knee;

For the wind has come to say:

“You must take me while you may,

If you’d go to Mother Carey,

(Walk her down to Mother Carey!)

Oh, we’re bound to Mother Carey where she feeds her chicks at sea!”

Heh! Walk her round. Break, ah break it out o’ that!

Break our starboard bower out, apeak, awash, and clear.

Port — port she casts, with the harbour-roil beneath her foot,

And that’s the last o’ bottom we shall see this year!

Well, ah fare you well, for we’ve got to take her out again —

Take her out in ballast, riding light and cargo-free.

And it’s time to clear and quit

When the hawser grips the bitt,

So we’ll pay you with the foresheet and a promise from the sea!

Heh! Tally on! Aft and walk away with her!

Handsome to the cathead, now; O tally on the fall!

Stop, seize and fish, and easy on the davit-guy.

Up, well up the fluke of her, and inboard haul!

Well, ah fare you well, for the Channel wind’s took hold of us,

Choking down our voices as we snatch the gaskets free.

And it’s blowing up for night,

And she’s dropping Light on Light,

And she’s snorting under bonnets for a breath of open sea.

Wheel, full and by; but she’ll smell her road alone to-night.

Sick she is and harbour-sick — O sick to clear the land!

Roll down to Brest with the old Red Ensign over us —

Carry on and thrash her out with all she’ll stand!

Well, ah fare you well, and it’s Ushant gives the door to us,

Whirling like a windmill on the dirty scud to lee:

Till the last, last flicker goes

From the tumbling water-rows,

And we’re off to Mother Carey

(Walk her down to Mother Carey!)

Oh, we’re bound for Mother Carey where she feeds her chicks at sea!

The Sea-Wife.

There dwells a wife by the Northern Gate,

And a wealthy wife is she;

She breeds a breed o’ rovin’ men

And casts them over sea,

And some are drowned in deep water,

And some in sight o’ shore.

And word goes back to the weary wife,

And ever she sends more.

For since that wife had gate and gear,

And hearth and garth and bield,

She willed her sons to the white harvest,

And that is a bitter yield.

She wills her sons to the wet ploughing,

To ride the horse of tree;

And syne her sons come home again

Far-spent from out the sea.

The good wife’s sons come home again

With little into their hands,

But the lore of men that ha’ dealt with men

In the new and naked lands.

But the faith of men that ha’ brothered men

By more than the easy breath,

And the eyes o’ men that ha’ read wi’ men

In the open books of death.

Rich are they, rich in wonders seen,

But poor in the goods o’ men,

So what they ha’ got by the skin o’ their teeth

They sell for their teeth again.

For whether they lose to the naked skin,

Or win to their hearts’ desire,

They tell it all to the weary wife

That nods beside the fire.

Her hearth is wide to every wind

That makes the white ash spin;

And tide and tide and ‘tween the tides

Her sons go out and in;

(Out with great mirth that do desire

Hazard of trackless ways,

In with content to wait their watch

And warm before the blaze);

And some return by failing light,

And some in waking dream,

For she hears the heels of the dripping ghosts

That ride the rough roof-beam.

Home, they come home from all the ports,

The living and the dead;

The good wife’s sons come home again

For her blessing on their head!

Hymn Before Action.

The earth is full of anger,

The seas are dark with wrath;

The Nations in their harness

Go up against our path!

Ere yet we loose the legions —

Ere yet we draw the blade,

Jehovah of the Thunders,

Lord God of Battles, aid!

High lust and froward bearing,

Proud heart, rebellious brow —

Deaf ear and soul uncaring,

We seek Thy mercy now:

The sinner that forswore Thee,

The fool that passed Thee by,

Our times are known before Thee —

Lord, grant us strength to die!

For those who kneel beside us

At altars not Thine own,

Who lack the lights that guide us,

Lord, let their faith atone;

If wrong we did to call them,

By honour bound they came;

Let not Thy wrath befall them,

But deal to us the blame.

From panic, pride, and terror,

Revenge that knows no rein —

Light haste and lawless error,

Protect us yet again.

Cloak Thou our undeserving,

Make firm the shuddering breath,

In silence and unswerving

To taste thy lesser death!

Ah, Mary pierced with sorrow,

Remember, reach and save

The soul that comes tomorrow

Before the God that gave!

Since each was born of woman,

For each at utter need —

True comrade and true foeman,

Madonna, intercede!

E’en now their vanguard gathers,

E’en now we face the fray —

As Thou didst help our fathers,

Help Thou our host today!

Fulfilled of signs and wonders,

In life, in death made clear —

Jehovah of the Thunders,

Lord God of Battles, hear!

To the True Romance.

(From Many Inventions).

Thy face is far from this our war,

Our call and counter-cry,

I shall not find Thee quick and kind,

Nor know Thee till I die:

Enough for me in dreams to see

And touch Thy garments’ hem:

Thy feet have trod so near to God

I may not follow them.

Through wantonness if men profess

They weary of Thy parts,

E’en let them die at blasphemy

And perish with their arts;

But we that love, but we that prove

Thine excellence august,

While we adore discover more

Thee perfect, wise, and just.

Since spoken word Man’s Spirit stirred

Beyond his belly-need,

What is is Thine of fair design

In thought and craft and deed;

Each stroke aright of toil and fight,

That was and that shall be,

And hope too high, wherefore we die,

Has birth and worth in Thee.

Who holds by Thee hath Heaven in fee

To gild his dross thereby,

And knowledge sure that he endure

A child until he die —

For to make plain that man’s disdain

Is but new Beauty’s birth —

For to possess, in loneliness,

The joy of all the earth.

As Thou didst teach all lovers speech,

And Life all mystery,

So shalt Thou rule by every school

Till love and longing die,

Who wast or yet the lights were set,

A whisper in the Void,

Who shalt be sung through planets young

When this is clean destroyed.

Beyond the bounds our staring rounds,

Across the pressing dark,

The children wise of outer skies

Look hitherward and mark

A light that shifts, a glare that drifts,

Rekindling thus and thus,

Not all forlorn, for Thou hast borne

Strange tales to them of us.

Time hath no tide but must abide

The servant of Thy will;

Tide hath no time, for to Thy rhyme

The ranging stars stand still —

Regent of spheres that lock our fears

Our hopes invisible,

Oh ’twas certes at Thy decrees

We fashioned Heaven and Hell!

Pure Wisdom hath no certain path

That lacks thy morning-eyne,

And captains bold by Thee controlled

Most like to Gods design;

Thou art the Voice to kingly boys

To lift them through the fight,

And Comfortress of Unsuccess,

To give the dead good-night —

A veil to draw ‘twixt God His Law

And Man’s infirmity,

A shadow kind to dumb and blind

The shambles where we die;

A sum to trick th’ arithmetic

Too base of leaguing odds,

The spur of trust, the curb of lust,

Thou handmaid of the Gods!

Oh Charity, all patiently

Abiding wrack and scaith!

Oh Faith, that meets ten thousand cheats

Yet drops no jot of faith!

Devil and brute Thou dost transmute

To higher, lordlier show,

Who art in sooth that lovely Truth

The careless angels know!

Thy face is far from this our war,

Our call and counter-cry,

I may not find Thee quick and kind,

Nor meet Thee till I die.

Yet may I look with heart unshook

On blow brought home or missed —

Yet may I hear with equal ear

The clarions down the list;

Yet set my lance above mischance

And ride the barriere —

Oh, hit or miss, how little ’tis,

My Lady is not there!

The Flowers.

“To our private taste, there is always something a little exotic, almost artificial, in songs which, under an English aspect and dress, are yet so manifestly the product of other skies. They affect us like translations; the very fauna and flora are alien, remote; the dog’s-tooth violet is but an ill substitute for the rathe primrose, nor can we ever believe that the wood-robin sings as sweetly in April as the English thrush.”— The Athenæum.

Buy my English posies —

Kent and Surrey may,

Violets of the Undercliff

Wet with Channel spray;

Cowslips from a Devon combe

Midland furze afire —

Buy my English posies,

And I’ll sell your hearts’ desire!

Buy my English posies! —

You that scorn the may

Won’t you greet a friend from home

Half the world away?

Green against the draggled drift,

Faint and frail and first —

Buy my Northern blood-root

And I’ll know where you were nursed!

Robin down the logging-road whistles, “Come to me,”

Spring has found the maple-grove, the sap is running free;

All the winds o’ Canada call the ploughing-rain.

Take the flower and turn the hour, and kiss your love again!

Buy my English posies! —

Here’s to match your need.

Buy a tuft of royal heath,

Buy a bunch of weed

White as sand of Muysenberg

Spun before the gale —

Buy my heath and lilies

And I’ll tell you whence you hail!

Under hot Constantia broad the vineyards lie —

Throned and thorned the aching berg props the speckless sky —

Slow below the Wynberg firs trails the tilted wain —

Take the flower and turn the hour, and kiss your love again!

Buy my English posies! —

You that will not turn,

Buy my hot-wood clematis,

Buy a frond o’ fern

Gathered where the Erskine leaps

Down the road to Lorne —

Buy my Christmas creeper

And I’ll say where you were born!

West away from Melbourne dust holidays begin —

They that mock at Paradise woo at Cora Lynn —

Through the great South Otway gums sings the great South Main —

Take the flower and turn the hour, and kiss your love again!

Buy my English posies! —

Here’s your choice unsold!

Buy a blood-red myrtle-bloom,

Buy the kowhai’s gold

Flung for gift on Taupo’s face

Sign that spring is come —

Buy my clinging myrtle

And I’ll give you back your home!

Broom behind the windy town; pollen o’ the pine —

Bell-bird in the leafy deep where the ratas twine —

Fern above the saddle-bow, flax upon the plain —

Take the flower and turn the hour, and kiss your love again!

Buy my English posies!

Ye that have your own

Buy them for a brother’s sake

Overseas, alone.

Weed ye trample underfoot

Floods his heart abrim —

Bird ye never heeded,

Oh, she calls his dead to him!

Far and far our homes are set round the Seven Seas.

Woe for us if we forget, we that hold by these!

Unto each his mother-beach, bloom and bird and land —

Masters of the Seven Seas, oh, love and understand!

The Last Rhyme of True Thomas.

The King has called for priest and cup,

The King has taken spur and blade

To dub True Thomas a belted knight,

And all for the sake o’ the songs he made.

They have sought him high, they have sought him low,

They have sought him over down and lea;

They have found him by the milk-white thorn

That guards the gates o’ Faerie.

’Twas bent beneath and blue above,

Their eyes were held that they might not see

The kine that grazed between the knowes,

Oh, they were the Queens o’ Faerie!

“Now cease your song,” the King he said,

“Oh, cease your song and get you dight

To vow your vow and watch your arms,

For I will dub you a belted knight.

“For I will give you a horse o’ pride,

Wi’ blazon and spur and page and squire;

Wi’ keep and tail and seizin and law,

And land to hold at your desire.”

True Thomas smiled above his harp,

And turned his face to the naked sky,

Where, blown before the wastrel wind,

The thistle-down she floated by.

“I ha’ vowed my vow in another place,

And bitter oath it was on me,

I ha’ watched my arms the lee-long night,

Where five-score fighting-men would flee.

“My lance is tipped o’ the hammered flame,

My shield is beat o’ the moonlight cold;

And I won my spurs in the Middle World,

A thousand fathoms beneath the mould.

“And what should I make wi’ a horse o’ pride,

And what should I make wi’ a sword so brown,

But spill the rings o’ the Gentle Folk

And flyte my kin in the Fairy Town?

“And what should I make wi’ blazon and belt,

Wi’ keep and tail and seizin and fee,

And what should I do wi’ page and squire

That am a king in my own countrie?

“For I send east and I send west,

And I send far as my will may flee,

By dawn and dusk and the drinking rain,

And syne my Sendings return to me.

“They come wi’ news of the groanin’ earth,

They come wi’ news o’ the roarin’ sea,

Wi’ word of Spirit and Ghost and Flesh,

And man that’s mazed among the three.”

The King he bit his nether lip,

And smote his hand upon his knee:

“By the faith o’ my soul, True Thomas,” he said,

“Ye waste no wit in courtesie!

“As I desire, unto my pride,

Can I make Earls by three and three,

To run before and ride behind

And serve the sons o’ my body.”

“And what care I for your row-foot earls,

Or all the sons o’ your body?

Before they win to the Pride o’ Name,

I trow they all ask leave o’ me.

“For I make Honour wi’ muckle mouth,

As I make Shame wi’ mincin’ feet,

To sing wi’ the priests at the market-cross,

Or run wi’ the dogs in the naked street.

“And some they give me the good red gold,

And some they give me the white money,

And some they give me a clout o’ meal,

For they be people o’ low degree.

“And the song I sing for the counted gold

The same I sing for the white money,

But best I sing for the clout o’ meal

That simple people given me.”

The King cast down a silver groat,

A silver groat o’ Scots money,

“If I come with a poor man’s dole,” he said,

“True Thomas, will ye harp to me?”

“Whenas I harp to the children small,

They press me close on either hand:

And who are you,” True Thomas said,

“That you should ride while they must stand?

“Light down, light down from your horse o’ pride,

I trow ye talk too loud and hie,

And I will make you a triple word,

And syne, if ye dare, ye shall ‘noble me.”

He has lighted down from his horse o’ pride,

And set his back against the stone.

“Now guard you well,” True Thomas said,

“Ere I rax your heart from your breast-bone!”

True Thomas played upon his harp,

The fairy harp that couldna’ lee,

And the first least word the proud King heard,

It harpit the salt tear out o’ his ee.

“Oh, I see the love that I lost long syne,

I touch the hope that I may not see,

And all that I did o’ hidden shame,

Like little snakes they hiss at me.

“The sun is lost at noon — at noon!

The dread o’ doom has grippit me.

True Thomas, hide me under your cloak,

God wot, I’m little fit to dee!”

’Twas bent beneath and blue above —

’Twas open field and running flood —

Where, hot on heath and dyke and wall,

The high sun warmed the adder’s brood.

“Lie down, lie down,” True Thomas said.

“The God shall judge when all is done;

But I will bring you a better word

And lift the cloud that I laid on.”

True Thomas played upon his harp,

That birled and brattled to his hand,

And the next least word True Thomas made,

It garred the King take horse and brand.

“Oh, I hear the tread o’ the fighting-men,

I see the sun on splent and spear!

I mark the arrow outen the fern!

That flies so low and sings so clear!

“Advance my standards to that war,

And bid my good knights prick and ride;

The gled shall watch as fierce a fight

As e’er was fought on the Border side!”

’Twas bent beneath and blue above,

’Twas nodding grass and naked sky,

Where ringing up the wastrel wind

The eyass stooped upon the pye.

True Thomas sighed above his harp,

And turned the song on the midmost string;

And the last least word True Thomas made

He harpit his dead youth back to the King.

“Now I am prince, and I do well

To love my love withouten fear;

To walk wi’ man in fellowship,

And breathe my horse behind the deer.

“My hounds they bay unto the death,

The buck has couched beyond the burn,

My love she waits at her window

To wash my hands when I return.

“For that I live am I content

(Oh! I have seen my true love’s eyes!)

To stand wi’ Adam in Eden-glade,

And run in the woods o’ Paradise!”

’Twas nodding grass and naked sky,

’Twas blue above and bent below,

Where, checked against the wastrel wind,

The red deer belled to call the doe.

True Thomas laid his harp away,

And louted low at the saddle-side;

He has taken stirrup and hauden rein,

And set the King on his horse o’ pride.

“Sleep ye or wake,” True Thomas said,

“That sit so still, that muse so long;

Sleep ye or wake? — till the latter sleep

I trow ye’ll not forget my song.

“I ha’ harpit a shadow out o’ the sun

To stand before your face and cry;

I ha’ armed the earth beneath your heel,

And over your head I ha’ dusked the sky!

“I ha’ harpit ye up to the Throne o’ God,

I ha’ harpit your secret soul in three;

I ha’ harpit ye down to the Hinges o’ Hell,

And — ye — would — make — a Knight o’ me!”

The Story of Ung.

Once, on a glittering ice-field, ages and ages ago,

Ung, a maker of pictures, fashioned an image of snow.

Fashioned the form of a tribesman — gaily he whistled and sung,

Working the snow with his fingers. Read ye the Story of Ung!

Pleased was his tribe with that image — came in their hundreds to scan —

Handled it, smelt it, and grunted: “Verily, this is a man!

Thus do we carry our lances — thus is a war-belt slung.

Ay, it is even as we are. Glory and honour to Ung!”

Later he pictured an aurochs — later he pictured a bear —

Pictured the sabre-tooth tiger dragging a man to his lair —

Pictured the mountainous mammoth, hairy, abhorrent, alone —

Out of the love that he bore them, scribing them clearly on bone.

Swift came the tribe to behold them, peering and pushing and still —

Men of the berg-battered beaches, men of the boulder-hatched hill,

Hunters and fishers and trappers — presently whispering low;

“Yea, they are like — and it may be. . . . But how does the Picture-man know?

“Ung — hath he slept with the Aurochs — watched where the Mastodon roam?

Spoke on the ice with the Bow-head — followed the Sabre-tooth home?

Nay! These are toys of his fancy! If he have cheated us so,

How is there truth in his image — the man that he fashioned of snow?”

Wroth was that maker of pictures — hotly he answered the call:

“Hunters and fishers and trappers, children and fools are ye all!

Look at the beasts when ye hunt them!” Swift from the tumult he broke,

Ran to the cave of his father and told him the shame that they spoke.

And the father of Ung gave answer, that was old and wise in the craft,

Maker of pictures aforetime, he leaned on his lance and laughed:

“If they could see as thou seest they would do what thou hast done,

And each man would make him a picture, and — what would become of my son?

“There would be no pelts of the reindeer, flung down at thy cave for a gift,

Nor dole of the oily timber that strands with the Baltic drift;

No store of well-drilled needles, nor ouches of amber pale;

No new-cut tongues of the bison, nor meat of the stranded whale.

Thou hast not toiled at the fishing when the sodden trammels freeze,

Nor worked the war-boats outward, through the rush of the rock-staked seas,

Yet they bring thee fish and plunder — full meal and an easy bed —

And all for the sake of thy pictures.” And Ung held down his head.

Thou hast not stood to the aurochs when the red snow reeks of the fight;

Men have no time at the houghing to count his curls aright:

And the heart of the hairy mammoth thou sayest they do not see,

Yet they save it whole from the beaches and broil the best for thee.

“And now do they press to thy pictures, with open mouth and eye,

And a little gift in the doorway, and the praise no gift can buy:

But — sure they have doubted thy pictures, and that is a grievous stain —

Son that can see so clearly, return them their gifts again.”

And Ung looked down at his deerskins — their broad shell-tasselled bands —

And Ung drew downward his mitten and looked at his naked hands;

And he gloved himself and departed, and he heard his father, behind:

“Son that can see so clearly, rejoice that thy tribe is blind!”

Straight on that glittering ice-field, by the caves of the lost Dordogne,

Ung, a maker of pictures, fell to his scribing on bone —

Even to mammoth editions. Gaily he whistled and sung,

Blessing his tribe for their blindness. Heed ye the Story of Ung!

The Three-Decker.

“The three-volume novel is extinct.”

Full thirty foot she towered from waterline to rail.

It cost a watch to steer her, and a week to shorten sail;

But, spite all modern notions, I found her first and best —

The only certain packet for the Islands of the Blest.

Fair held our breeze behind us —’twas warm with lovers’ prayers:

We’d stolen wills for ballast and a crew of missing heirs;

They shipped as Able Bastards till the Wicked Nurse confessed,

And they worked the old three-decker to the Islands of the Blest.

Carambas and serapés we waved to every wind,

We smoked good Corpo Bacco when our sweethearts proved unkind;

With maids of matchless beauty and parentage unguessed

We also took our manners to the Islands of the Blest.

We asked no social questions — we pumped no hidden shame —

We never talked obstetrics when the little stranger came:

We left the Lord in Heaven, we left the fiends in Hell.

We weren’t exactly Yussufs, but — Zuleika didn’t tell!

No moral doubt assailed us, so when the port we neared,

The villain got his flogging at the gangway, and we cheered.

’Twas fiddles in the foc’sle —’twas garlands on the mast,

For every one got married, and I went ashore at last.

I left ’em all in couples akissing on the decks.

I left the lovers loving and the parents signing checks.

In endless English comfort by county-folk caressed,

I left the old three-decker at the Islands of the Blest!

That route is barred to steamers: you’ll never lift again

Our purple-painted headlands or the lordly keeps of Spain.

They’re just beyond the skyline, howe’er so far you cruise

In a ram-you-damn-you liner with a brace of bucking screws.

Swing round your aching search-light —’twill show no haven’s peace!

Ay, blow your shrieking sirens to the deaf, gray-bearded seas!

Boom out the dripping oil-bags to skin the deep’s unrest —

But you aren’t a knot the nearer to the Islands of the Blest.

And when you’re threshing, crippled, with broken bridge and rail,

On a drogue of dead convictions to hold you head to gale,

Calm as the Flying Dutchman, from truck to taffrail dressed,

You’ll see the old three-decker for the Islands of the Blest.

You’ll see her tiering canvas in sheeted silver spread;

You’ll hear the long-drawn thunder ‘neath her leaping figure-head;

While far, so far above you, her tall poop-lanterns shine

Unvexed by wind or weather like the candles round a shrine.

Hull down — hull down and under — she dwindles to a speck,

With noise of pleasant music and dancing on her deck.

All’s well — all’s well aboard her — she’s dropped you far behind,

With a scent of old-world roses through the fog that ties you blind.

Her crew are babes or madmen? Her port is all to make?

You’re manned by Truth and Science, and you steam for steaming’s sake?

Well, tinker up your engines — you know your business best —

She’s taking tired people to the Islands of the Blest!

An American.

The American Spirit speaks:

If the Led Striker call it a strike,

Or the papers call it a war,

They know not much what I am like,

Nor what he is, my Avatar.

Through many roads, by me possessed,

He shambles forth in cosmic guise;

He is the Jester and the Jest,

And he the Text himself applies.

The Celt is in his heart and hand,

The Gaul is in his brain and nerve;

Where, cosmopolitanly planned,

He guards the Redskin’s dry reserve.

His easy unswept hearth he lends

From Labrador to Guadeloupe;

Till, elbowed out by sloven friends,

He camps, at sufferance, on the stoop.

Calm-eyed he scoffs at sword and crown,

Or panic-blinded stabs and slays:

Blatant he bids the world bow down,

Or cringing begs a crumb of praise;

Or, sombre-drunk, at mine and mart,

He dubs his dreary brethren Kings.

His hands are black with blood: his heart

Leaps, as a babe’s, at little things.

But, through the shift of mood and mood,

Mine ancient humour saves him whole —

The cynic devil in his blood

That bids him mock his hurrying soul;

That bids him flout the Law he makes,

That bids him make the Law he flouts,

Till, dazed by many doubts, he wakes

The drumming guns that — have no doubts;

That checks him foolish hot and fond,

That chuckles through his deepest ire,

That gilds the slough of his despond

But dims the goal of his desire;

Inopportune, shrill-accented,

The acrid Asiatic mirth

That leaves him careless ‘mid his dead,

The scandal of the elder earth.

How shall he clear himself, how reach

Our bar or weighed defence prefer —

A brother hedged with alien speech

And lacking all interpreter?

Which knowledge vexes him a space;

But while reproof around him rings,

He turns a keen untroubled face

Home, to the instant need of things.

Enslaved, illogical, elate,

He greets th’ embarrassed Gods, nor fears

To shake the iron hand of Fate

Or match with Destiny for beers.

Lo! imperturbable he rules,

Unkempt, disreputable, vast —

And, in the teeth of all the schools

I— I shall save him at the last!

The Mary Gloster.

I’ve paid for your sickest fancies; I’ve humoured your crackedest whim —

Dick, it’s your daddy — dying: you’ve got to listen to him!

Good for a fortnight, am I? The doctor told you? He lied.

I shall go under by morning, and —— Put that nurse outside.

Never seen death yet, Dickie? Well, now is your time to learn,

And you’ll wish you held my record before it comes to your turn.

Not counting the Line and the Foundry, the yards and the village, too,

I’ve made myself and a million; but I’m damned if I made you.

Master at two-and-twenty, and married at twenty three —

Ten thousand men on the pay-roll, and forty freighters at sea!

Fifty years between ’em, and every year of it fight,

And now I’m Sir Anthony Gloster, dying, a baronite:

For I lunched with His Royal ’Ighness — what was it the papers a-had?

“Not least of our merchant-princes.” Dickie, that’s me, your dad!

I didn’t begin with askings. I took my job and I stuck;

And I took the chances they wouldn’t, an’ now they’re calling it luck.

Lord, what boats I’ve handled — rotten and leaky and old!

Ran ’em, or — opened the bilge-cock, precisely as I was told.

Grub that ’ud bind you crazy, and crews that ’ud turn you gray,

And a big fat lump of insurance to cover the risk on the way.

The others they duresn’t do it; they said they valued their life

(They’ve served me since as skippers). I went, and I took my wife.

Over the world I drove ’em, married at twenty-three,

And your mother saving the money and making a man of me.

I was content to be master, but she said there was better behind;

She took the chances I wouldn’t, and I followed your mother blind.

She egged me to borrow the money, an’ she helped me clear the loan,

When we bought half shares in a cheap ’un and hoisted a flag of our own.

Patching and coaling on credit, and living the Lord knew how,

We started the Red Ox freighters — we’ve eight-and-thirty now.

And those were the days of clippers, and the freights were clipper-freights,

And we knew we were making our fortune, but she died in Macassar Straits —

By the Little Paternosters, as you come to the Union Bank —

And we dropped her in fourteen fathom; I pricked it off where she sank.

Owners we were, full owners, and the boat was christened for her,

And she died out there in childbed. My heart, how young we were!

So I went on a spree round Java and well-nigh ran her ashore,

But your mother came and warned me and I wouldn’t liquor no more.

Strict I stuck to my business, afraid to stop or I’d think,

Saving the money (she warned me), and letting the other men drink.

And I met McCullough in London (I’d saved five ’undred then),

And ‘tween us we started the Foundry — three forges and twenty men:

Cheap repairs for the cheap ’uns. It paid, and the business grew,

For I bought me a steam-lathe patent, and that was a gold mine too.

“Cheaper to build ’em than buy ’em,” I said, but McCullough he shied,

And we wasted a year in talking before we moved to the Clyde.

And the Lines were all beginning, and we all of us started fair,

Building our engines like houses and staying the boilers square.

But McCullough ’e wanted cabins with marble and maple and all,

And Brussels and Utrecht velvet, and baths and a Social Hall,

And pipes for closets all over, and cutting the frames too light.

But McCullough he died in the Sixties, and —— Well, I’m dying to-night. . . .

I knew — I knew what was coming, when we bid on the Byfleet’s keel.

They piddled and piffled with iron: I’d given my orders for steel.

Steel and the first expansions. It paid, I tell you, it paid,

When we came with our nine-knot freighters and collared the long-run trade.

And they asked me how I did it, and I gave ’em the Scripture text,

“You keep your light so shining a little in front o’ the next!”

They copied all they could follow, but they couldn’t copy my mind,

And I left ’em sweating and stealing a year and a half behind.

Then came the armour-contracts, but that was McCullough’s side;

He was always best in the Foundry, but better, perhaps, he died.

I went through his private papers; the notes was plainer than print;

And I’m no fool to finish if a man’ll give me a hint.

(I remember his widow was angry.) So I saw what the drawings meant,

And I started the six-inch rollers, and it paid me sixty per cent.

Sixty per cent with failures, and more than twice we could do,

And a quarter-million to credit, and I saved it all for you.

I thought — it doesn’t matter — you seemed to favour your ma,

But you’re nearer forty than thirty, and I know the kind you are.

Harrer an’ Trinity College! I ought to ha’ sent you to sea —

But I stood you an education, an’ what have you done for me?

The things I knew was proper you wouldn’t thank me to give,

And the things I knew was rotten you said was the way to live;

For you muddled with books and pictures, an’ china an’ etchin’s an’ fans,

And your rooms at college was beastly — more like a whore’s than a man’s —

Till you married that thin-flanked woman, as white and as stale as a bone,

And she gave you your social nonsense; but where’s that kid o’ your own?

I’ve seen your carriages blocking the half of the Cromwell Road,

But never the doctor’s brougham to help the missus unload.

(So there isn’t even a grandchild, an’ the Gloster family’s done.)

Not like your mother, she isn’t. She carried her freight each run.

But they died, the pore little beggars! At sea she had ’em — they died.

Only you, an’ you stood it; you haven’t stood much beside —

Weak, a liar, and idle, and mean as a collier’s whelp

Nosing for scraps in the galley. No help — my son was no help!

So he gets three ’undred thousand, in trust and the interest paid.

I wouldn’t give it you, Dickie — you see, I made it in trade.

You’re saved from soiling your fingers, and if you have no child,

It all comes back to the business. Gad, won’t your wife be wild!

Calls and calls in her carriage, her ’andkerchief up to ’er eye:

“Daddy! dear daddy’s dyin’!” and doing her best to cry.

Grateful? Oh, yes, I’m grateful, but keep ’er away from here.

Your mother ’ud never ha’ stood ’er, and, anyhow, women are queer. . . .

There’s women will say I’ve married a second time. Not quite!

But give pore Aggie a hundred, and tell her your lawyers’ll fight.

She was the best o’ the boiling — you’ll meet her before it ends;

I’m in for a row with the mother — I’ll leave you settle my friends:

For a man he must go with a woman, which women don’t understand —

Or the sort that say they can see it they aren’t the marrying brand.

But I wanted to speak o’ your mother that’s Lady Gloster still.

I’m going to up and see her, without it’s hurting the will.

Here! Take your hand off the bell-pull. Five thousand’s waiting for you,

If you’ll only listen a minute, and do as I bid you do.

They’ll try to prove me a loony, and, if you bungle, they can;

And I’ve only you to trust to! (O God, why ain’t he a man?)

There’s some waste money on marbles, the same as McCullough tried —

Marbles and mausoleums — but I call that sinful pride.

There’s some ship bodies for burial — we’ve carried ’em, soldered and packed;

Down in their wills they wrote it, and nobody called them cracked.

But me — I’ve too much money, and people might. . . . All my fault:

It come o’ hoping for grandsons and buying that Wokin’ vault.

I’m sick o’ the ’ole dam’ business; I’m going back where I came.

Dick, you’re the son o’ my body, and you’ll take charge o’ the same!

I’m going to lie by your mother, ten thousand mile away,

And they’ll want to send me to Woking; and that’s where you’ll earn your pay.

I’ve thought it out on the quiet, the same as it ought to be done —

Quiet, and decent, and proper — an’ here’s your orders, my son.

You know the Line? You don’t, though. You write to the Board, and tell

Your father’s death has upset you an’ you’re goin’ to cruise for a spell,

An’ you’d like the Mary Gloster — I’ve held her ready for this —

They’ll put her in working order an’ you’ll take her out as she is.

Yes, it was money idle when I patched her and put her aside

(Thank God, I can pay for my fancies!)— the boat where your mother died,

By the Little Paternosters, as you come to the Union Bank,

We dropped her — I think I told you — and I pricked it off where she sank.

[Tiny she looked on the grating — that oily, treacly sea —]

Hundred and eighteen East, remember, and South just three.

Easy bearings to carry — three South — three to the dot;

But I gave McAndrews a copy in case of dying — or not.

And so you’ll write to McAndrews, he’s Chief of the Maori Line;

They’ll give him leave, if you ask ’em and say it’s business o’ mine.

I built three boats for the Maoris, an’ very well pleased they were,

An’ I’ve known Mac since the Fifties, and Mac knew me — and her.

After the first stroke warned me I sent him the money to keep

Against the time you’d claim it, committin’ your dad to the deep;

For you are the son o’ my body, and Mac was my oldest friend,

I’ve never asked ’im to dinner, but he’ll see it out to the end.

Stiff-necked Glasgow beggar, I’ve heard he’s prayed for my soul,

But he couldn’t lie if you paid him, and he’d starve before he stole.

He’ll take the Mary in ballast — you’ll find her a lively ship;

And you’ll take Sir Anthony Gloster, that goes on his wedding-trip,

Lashed in our old deck-cabin with all three port-holes wide,

The kick o’ the screw beneath him and the round blue seas outside!

Sir Anthony Gloster’s carriage — our ’ouse-flag flyin’ free —

Ten thousand men on the pay-roll and forty freighters at sea!

He made himself and a million, but this world is a fleetin’ show,

And he’ll go to the wife of ’is bosom the same as he ought to go.

By the heel of the Paternosters — there isn’t a chance to mistake —

And Mac’ll pay you the money as soon as the bubbles break!

Five thousand for six weeks’ cruising, the stanchest freighter afloat,

And Mac he’ll give you your bonus the minute I’m out o’ the boat!

He’ll take you round to Macassar, and you’ll come back alone;

He knows what I want o’ the Mary. . . . I’ll do what I please with my own.

Your mother ’ud call it wasteful, but I’ve seven-and-thirty more;

I’ll come in my private carriage and bid it wait at the door. . . .

For my son ’e was never a credit: ’e muddled with books and art,

And ’e lived on Sir Anthony’s money and ’e broke Sir Anthony’s heart.

There isn’t even a grandchild, and the Gloster family’s done —

The only one you left me, O mother, the only one!

Harrer an’ Trinity College! Me slavin’ early an’ late,

An’ he thinks I’m dyin’ crazy, and you’re in Macassar Strait!

Flesh o’ my flesh, my dearie, for ever an’ ever amen,

That first stroke come for a warning; I ought to ha’ gone to you then,

But — cheap repairs for a cheap ’un-the doctors said I’d do:

Mary, why didn’t you warn me? I’ve allus heeded to you,

Excep’— I know — about women; but you are a spirit now;

An’, wife, they was only women, and I was a man. That’s how.

An’ a man ’e must go with a woman, as you could not understand;

But I never talked ’em secrets. I paid ’em out o’ hand.

Thank Gawd, I can pay for my fancies! Now what’s five thousand to me,

For a berth off the Paternosters in the haven where I would be?

I believe in the Resurrection, if I read my Bible plain,

But I wouldn’t trust ’em at Wokin’; we’re safer at sea again.

For the heart it shall go with the treasure — go down to the sea in ships.

I’m sick of the hired women — I’ll kiss my girl on her lips!

I’ll be content with my fountain, I’ll drink from my own well,

And the wife of my youth shall charm me — an’ the rest can go to Hell!

(Dickie, he will, that’s certain.) I’ll lie in our standin’-bed,

An’ Mac’ll take her in ballast — and she trims best by the head. . . .

Down by the head an’ sinkin’. Her fires are drawn and cold,

And the water’s splashin’ hollow on the skin of the empty hold —

Churning an’ choking and chuckling, quiet and scummy and dark —

Full to her lower hatches and risin’ steady. Hark!

That was the after-bulkhead . . . she’s flooded from stem to stern. . . .

Never seen death yet, Dickie? . . . Well, now is your time to learn!

Sestina of the Tramp-Royal.

Speakin’ in general, I ’ave tried ’em all,

The ’appy roads that take you o’er the world.

Speakin’ in general, I ’ave found them good

For such as cannot use one bed too long,

But must get ’ence, the same as I ’ave done,

An’ go observin’ matters till they die.

What do it matter where or ’ow we die,

So long as we’ve our ’ealth to watch it all —

The different ways that different things are done,

An’ men an’ women lovin’ in this world —

Takin’ our chances as they come along,

An’ when they ain’t, pretendin’ they are good?

In cash or credit — no, it ain’t no good;

You ’ave to ’ave the ’abit or you’d die,

Unless you lived your life but one day long,

Nor didn’t prophesy nor fret at all,

But drew your tucker some’ow from the world,

An’ never bothered what you might ha’ done.

But, Gawd, what things are they I ’aven’t done?

I’ve turned my ’and to most, an’ turned it good,

In various situations round the world —

For ’im that doth not work must surely die;

But that’s no reason man should labour all

’Is life on one same shift; life’s none so long.

Therfore, from job to job I’ve moved along.

Pay couldn’t ’old me when my time was done,

For something in my ’ead upset me all,

Till I ’ad dropped whatever ’twas for good,

An’, out at sea, be’eld the dock-lights die,

An’ met my mate — the wind that tramps the world.

It’s like a book, I think, this bloomin’ world,

Which you can read and care for just so long,

But presently you feel that you will die

Unless you get the page you’re readin’ done,

An’ turn another — likely not so good;

But what you’re after is to turn ’em all.

Gawd bless this world! Whatever she ’ath done —

Excep’ when awful long — I’ve found it good.

So write, before I die, “’E liked it all!”

Barrack-Room Ballads.

When ’Omer smote ’is bloomin’ lyre,

He’d ’eard men sing by land an’ sea;

An’ what he thought ’e might require,

’E went an’ took — the same as me!

The market-girls an’ fishermen,

The shepherds an’ the sailors, too,

They ’eard old songs turn up again,

But kep’ it quiet — same as you!

They knew ’e stole; ’e knew they knowed.

They didn’t tell, nor make a fuss,

But winked at ’Omer down the road,

An’ ’e winked back — the same as us!

“Back to the Army Again.”

I’m ’ere in a ticky ulster an’ a broken billycock ’at,

A-layin’ on to the sergeant I don’t know a gun from a bat;

My shirt’s doin’ duty for jacket, my sock’s stickin’ out o’ my boots,

An’ I’m learnin’ the damned old goose-step along o’ the new recruits!

Back to the Army again, sergeant,

Back to the Army again.

Don’t look so ’ard, for I ’aven’t no card,

I’m back to the Army again!

I done my six years’ service. ’Er Majesty sez: “Good day —

You’ll please to come when you’re rung for, an’ ’ere’s your ’ole back pay;

An’ fourpence a day for baccy — an’ bloomin’ gen’rous, too;

An’ now you can make your fortune — the same as your orf’cers do.”

Back to the Army again, sergeant,

Back to the Army again;

’Ow did I learn to do right-about turn?

I’m back to the Army again!

A man o’ four-an’-twenty that ’asn’t learned of a trade —

Beside “Reserve” agin’ him —’e’d better be never made.

I tried my luck for a quarter, an’ that was enough for me,

An’ I thought of ’Er Majesty’s barricks, an’ I thought I’d go an’ see.

Back to the Army again, sergeant,

Back to the Army again;

‘Tisn’t my fault if I dress when I ’alt —

I’m back to the Army again!

The sergeant arst no questions, but ’e winked the other eye,

E’ sez to me, “‘Shun!” an’ I shunted, the same as in days gone by;

For ’e saw the set o’ my shoulders, an’ I couldn’t ’elp ’oldin’ straight

When me an’ the other rookies come under the barrick gate.

Back to the Army again, sergeant,

Back to the Army again;

’Oo would ha’ thought I could carry an’ port?

I’m back to the Army again!

I took my bath, an’ I wallered — for, Gawd, I needed it so!

I smelt the smell o’ the barricks, I ’eard the bugles go.

I ’eard the feet on the gravel — the feet o’ the men what drill —

An’ I sez to my flutterin’ ’eartstrings, I sez to ’em, “Peace, be still!”

Back to the Army again, sergeant,

Back to the Army again;

’Oo said I knew when the Jumner was due?

I’m back to the Army again!

I carried my slops to the tailor; I sez to ’im, “None o’ your lip!

You tight ’em over the shoulders, an’ loose ’em over the ’ip,

For the set o’ the tunic’s ’orrid.” An’ ’e sez to me, “Strike me dead,

But I thought you was used to the business!” an’ so ’e done what I said.

Back to the Army again, sergeant,

Back to the Army again.

Rather too free with my fancies? Wot — me?

I’m back to the Army again!

Next week I’ll ’ave ’em fitted; I’ll buy me a walkin’ cane;

They’ll let me free o’ the barricks to walk on the Hoe again

In the name o’ William Parsons, that used to be Edward Clay,

An’— any pore beggar that wants it can draw my fourpence a day!

Back to the Army again, sergeant,

Back to the Army again:

Out o’ the cold an’ the rain, sergeant,

Out o’ the cold an’ the rain.

’Oo’s there?

A man that’s too good to be lost you,

A man that is ’andled an’ made —

A man that will pay what ’e cost you

In learnin’ the others their trade — parade!

You’re droppin’ the pick o’ the Army

Because you don’t ’elp ’em remain,

But drives ’em to cheat to get out o’ the street

An’ back to the Army again!

“Birds of Prey” March.

March! The mud is cakin’ good about our trousies.

Front! — eyes front, an’ watch the Colour-casin’s drip.

Front! The faces of the women in the ’ouses

Ain’t the kind o’ things to take aboard the ship.

Cheer! An’ we’ll never march to victory.

Cheer! An’ we’ll never live to ’ear the cannon roar!

The Large Birds o’ Prey

They will carry us away,

An’ you’ll never see your soldiers any more!

Wheel! Oh, keep your touch; we’re goin’ round a corner.

Time! — mark time, an’ let the men be’ind us close.

Lord! the transport’s full, an’ ’alf our lot not on ’er —

Cheer, O cheer! We’re going off where no one knows.

March! The Devil’s none so black as ’e is painted!

Cheer! We’ll ’ave some fun before we’re put away.

’Alt, an’ ’and ’er out — a woman’s gone and fainted!

Cheer! Get on — Gawd ’elp the married men today!

Hoi! Come up, you ’ungry beggars, to yer sorrow.

(’Ear them say they want their tea, an’ want it quick!)

You won’t have no mind for slingers, not tomorrow —

No; you’ll put the ‘tween-decks stove out, bein’ sick!

’Alt! The married kit ’as all to go before us!

‘Course it’s blocked the bloomin’ gangway up again!

Cheer, O cheer the ’Orse Guards watchin’ tender o’er us,

Keepin’ us since eight this mornin’ in the rain!

Stuck in ’eavy marchin’-order, sopped and wringin’—

Sick, before our time to watch ’er ’eave an’ fall,

’Ere’s your ’appy ’ome at last, an’ stop your singin’.

’Alt! Fall in along the troop-deck! Silence all!

Cheer! For we’ll never live to see no bloomin’ victory!

Cheer! An’ we’ll never live to ’ear the cannon roar! (One cheer more!)

The jackal an’ the kite

’Ave an ’ealthy appetite,

An’ you’ll never see your soldiers any more! (’Ip! Urroar!)

The eagle an’ the crow

They are waitin’ ever so,

An’ you’ll never see your soldiers any more! (’Ip! Urroar!)

Yes, the Large Birds o’ Prey

They will carry us away,

An’ you’ll never see your soldiers any more!

“Soldier an’ Sailor Too.”

As I was spittin’ into the Ditch aboard o’ the Crocodile,

I seed a man on a man-o’-war got up in the Reg’lars’ style.

’E was scrapin’ the paint from off of ’er plates, an’ I sez to ’im, “’Oo are you?”

Sez ’e, “I’m a Jolly —’Er Majesty’s Jolly — soldier an’ sailor too!”

Now ’is work begins at Gawd knows when, and ’is work is never through;

’E isn’t one o’ the reg’lar Line, nor ’e isn’t one of the crew.

’E’s a kind of a giddy harumfrodite — soldier an’ sailor too!

An’ after I met ’im all over the world, a-doin’ all kinds of things,

Like landin’ ’isself with a Gatlin’ gun to talk to them ’eathen kings;

’E sleeps in an ’ammick instead of a cot, an’ ’e drills with the deck on a slew,

An’ ’e sweats like a Jolly —’Er Majesty’s Jolly — soldier an’ sailor too!

For there isn’t a job on the top o’ the earth the beggar don’t know, nor do.

You can leave ’im at night on a bald man’s ’ead, to paddle ’is own canoe;

’E’s a sort of a bloomin’ cosmopolouse — soldier an’ sailor too.

We’ve fought ’em on trooper, we’ve fought ’em in dock, an’ drunk with ’em in betweens,

When they called us the seasick scull’ry maids, an’ we called ’em the Ass Marines;

But, when we was down for a double fatigue, from Woolwich to Bernardmyo,

We sent for the Jollies —’Er Majesty’s Jollies — soldier an’ sailor too!

They think for ’emselves, an’ they steal for ’emselves, and they never ask what’s to do,

But they’re camped an’ fed an’ they’re up an’ fed before our bugle’s blew.

Ho! they ain’t no limpin’ procrastitutes — soldier an’ sailor too.

You may say we are fond of an ’arness-cut, or ’ootin’ in barrick-yards,

Or startin’ a Board School mutiny along o’ the Onion Guards;

But once in a while we can finish in style for the ends of the earth to view,

The same as the Jollies —’er Majesty’s Jollies — soldier an’ sailor too!

They come of our lot, they was brothers to us; they was beggars we’d met an’ knew;

Yes, barrin’ an inch in the chest an’ the arms, they was doubles o’ me an’ you;

For they weren’t no special chrysanthemums — soldier an’ sailor too!

To take your chance in the thick of a rush, with firing all about,

Is nothing so bad when you’ve cover to ’and, an’ leave an’ likin’ to shout;

But to stand an’ be still to the Birken’ead drill is a damn tough bullet to chew,

An’ they done it, the Jollies —’Er Majesty’s Jollies — soldier an’ sailor too!

Their work was done when it ’adn’t begun; they was younger nor me an’ you;

Their choice it was plain between drownin’ in ’eaps an’ bein’ mashed by the screw,

So they stood an’ was still to the Birken’ead drill, soldier an’ sailor too!

We’re most of us liars, we’re ’arf of us thieves, an’ the rest are as rank as can be,

But once in a while we can finish in style (which I ’ope it won’t ’appen to me).

But it makes you think better o’ you an’ your friends, an’ the work you may ’ave to do,

When you think o’ the sinkin’ Victorier’s Jollies — soldier an’ sailor too!

Now there isn’t no room for to say ye don’t know — they ’ave proved it plain and true —

That whether it’s Widow, or whether it’s ship, Victorier’s work is to do,

An’ they done it, the Jollies —’Er Majesty’s Jollies — soldier an’ sailor too!

Sappers.

When the Waters were dried an’ the Earth did appear

(“It’s all one,” says the Sapper),

The Lord He created the Engineer,

Her Majesty’s Royal Engineer,

With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

When the Flood come along for an extra monsoon,

’Twas Noah constructed the first pontoon

To the plans of Her Majesty’s, etc.

But after “fatigue” in the wet an’ the sun,

Old Noah got drunk, which he wouldn’t ha’ done

If he’d trained with, etc.

When the Tower o’ Babel had mixed up men’s bat,

Some clever civilian was managing that,

An’ none of, etc.

When the Jews had a fight at the foot of an ’ill,

Young Joshua ordered the sun to stand still,

For he was a Captain of Engineers, etc.

When the Children of Israel made bricks without straw,

They were learnin’ the regular work of our Corps,

The work of, etc.

For ever since then, if a war they would wage,

Behold us a-shinin’ on history’s page —

First page for, etc.

We lay down their sidings an’ help ’em entrain,

An’ we sweep up their mess through the bloomin’ campaign,

In the style of, etc.

They send us in front with a fuse an’ a mine

To blow up the gates that are rushed by the Line,

But bent by, etc.

They send us behind with a pick an’ a spade,

To dig for the guns of a bullock-brigade

Which has asked for, etc.

We work under escort in trousies an’ shirt,

An’ the heathen they plug us tail-up in the dirt,

Annoying, etc.

We blast out the rock an’ we shovel the mud,

We make ’em good roads an’— they roll down the khud,

Reporting, etc.

We make ’em their bridges, their wells, an’ their huts,

An’ the telegraph-wire the enemy cuts,

An’ it’s blamed on, etc.

An’ when we return an’ from war we would cease,

They grudge us adornin’ the billets of peace,

Which are kept for, etc.

We build ’em nice barricks — they swear they are bad,

That our Colonels are Methodist, married or mad,

Insultin’, etc.

They haven’t no manners nor gratitude too,

For the more that we help ’em the less will they do,

But mock at, etc.

Now the Line’s but a man with a gun in his hand,

An’ Cavalry’s only what horses can stand,

When helped by, etc.

Artillery moves by the leave o’ the ground,

But we are the men that do something all round,

For we are, etc.

I have stated it plain, an’ my argument’s thus,

(“It’s all one,” says the Sapper),

There’s only one Corps which is perfect — that’s us;

An’ they call us Her Majesty’s Engineers,

Her Majesty’s Royal Engineers,

With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

That Day.

It got beyond all orders an’ it got beyond all ’ope;

It got to shammin’ wounded an’ retirin’ from the ’alt.

’Ole companies was lookin’ for the nearest road to slope;

It were just a bloomin’ knock-out — an’ our fault!

Now there ain’t no chorus ’ere to give,

Nor there ain’t no band to play;

An’ I wish I was dead ‘fore I done what I did

Or seen what I seed that day!

We was sick o’ bein’ punished, an’ we let ’em know it, too;

An’ a company-commander up an’ ’it us with a sword,

An’ some one shouted “’Ook it!” an’ it come to sove-ki-poo,

An’ we chucked our rifles from us — oh, my Gawd!

There was thirty dead an’ wounded on the ground we wouldn’t keep —

No, there wasn’t more than twenty when the front begun to go;

But, Christ! along the line o’ flight they cut us up like sheep,

An’ that was all we gained by doin’ so.

I ’eard the knives be’ind me, but I dursn’t face my man,

An’ I don’t know where I went to, ‘cause I didn’t ’alt to see,

Till I ’eard a beggar squealin’ out for quarter as ’e ran,

An’ I thought I knew the voice an’— it was me!

We was ’idin’ under bedsteads more than ’arf a march away;

We was lyin’ up like rabbits all about the country side;

An’ the major cursed ’is Maker ‘cause ’e lived to see that day,

An’ the colonel broke ’is sword acrost, an’ cried.

We was rotten ‘fore we started — we was never disciplined;

We made it out a favour if an order was obeyed;

Yes, every little drummer ’ad ’is rights an’ wrongs to mind,

So we had to pay for teachin’— an’ we paid!

The papers ’id it ’andsome, but you know the Army knows;

We was put to groomin’ camels till the regiments withdrew,

An’ they give us each a medal for subduin’ England’s foes,

An’ I ’ope you like my song — because it’s true!

An’ there ain’t no chorus ’ere to give,

Nor there ain’t no band to play;

But I wish I was dead ‘fore I done what I did

Or seen what I seed that day!

“The Men That Fought at Minden.”

A SONG OF INSTRUCTION.

The men that fought at Minden, they was rookies in their time —

So was them that fought at Waterloo!

All the ’ole command, yuss, from Minden to Maiwand,

They was once dam’ sweeps like you!

Then do not be discouraged, ’Eaven is your ’elper,

We’ll learn you not to forget;

An’ you mustn’t swear an’ curse, or you’ll only catch it worse,

For we’ll make you soldiers yet.

The men that fought at Minden, they ’ad stocks beneath their chins,

Six inch ’igh an’ more;

But fatigue it was their pride, and they would not be denied

To clean the cook-’ouse floor.

The men that fought at Minden, they ’ad anarchistic bombs

Served to ’em by name of ’and-grenades;

But they got it in the eye (same as you will by an’ by)

When they clubbed their field-parades.

The men that fought at Minden, they ’ad buttons up an’ down,

Two-an’-twenty dozen of ’em told;

But they didn’t grouse an’ shirk at an hour’s extry work,

They kept ’em bright as gold.

The men that fought at Minden, they was armed with musketoons,

Also, they was drilled by ’alberdiers;

I don’t know what they were, but the sergeants took good care

They washed be’ind their ears.

The men that fought at Minden, they ’ad ever cash in ’and

Which they did not bank nor save,

But spent it gay an’ free on their betters — such as me —

For the good advice I gave.

The men that fought at Minden, they was civil — yuss, they was —

Never didn’t talk o’ rights an’ wrongs,

But they got it with the toe (same as you will get it — so!)—

For interrupting songs.

The men that fought at Minden, they was several other things

Which I don’t remember clear;

But that’s the reason why, now the six-year men are dry,

The rooks will stand the beer!

Then do not be discouraged, ’Eaven is your ’elper,

We’ll learn you not to forget;

An’ you mustn’t swear an’ curse, or you’ll only catch it worse,

And we’ll make you soldiers yet.

Soldiers yet, if you’ve got it in you —

All for the sake o’ the Core;

Soldiers yet, if we ’ave to skin you —

Run an’ get the beer, Johnny Raw — Johnny Raw!

Ho! run an’ get the beer, Johnny Raw!

Cholera Camp.

We’ve got the cholerer in camp — it’s worse than forty fights;

We’re dyin’ in the wilderness the same as Isrulites!

It’s before us, an’ be’ind us, an’ we cannot get away,

An’ the doctor’s just reported we’ve ten more today!

Oh, strike your camp an’ go, the bugle’s callin’,

The Rains are fallin’—

The dead are bushed an’ stoned to keep ’em safe below;

The Band’s a-doin’ all she knows to cheer us;

The chaplain’s gone and prayed to Gawd to ’ear us —

To ’ear us —

O Lord, for it’s a-killing of us so!

Since August, when it started, it’s been sticking to our tail,

Tho’ they’ve ’ad us out by marches an’ they’ve ’ad us back by rail;

But it runs as fast as troop-trains, an’ we can not get away;

An’ the sick-list to the Colonel makes ten more today.

There ain’t no fun in women nor there ain’t no bite to drink;

It’s much too wet for shootin’, we can only march and think;

An’ at evenin’, down the nullahs, we can ’ear the jackals say,

“Get up, you rotten beggars, you’ve ten more today!”

‘Twould make a monkey cough to see our way o’ doin’ things —

Lieutenants takin’ companies an’ captains takin’ wings,

An’ Lances actin’ Sergeants — eight file to obey —

For we’ve lots o’ quick promotion on ten deaths a day!

Our Colonel’s white an’ twitterly —’e gets no sleep nor food,

But mucks about in ’orspital where nothing does no good.

’E sends us ’eaps o’ comforts, all bought from ’is pay —

But there aren’t much comfort ’andy on ten deaths a day.

Our Chaplain’s got a banjo, an’ a skinny mule ’e rides,

An’ the stuff ’e says an’ sings us, Lord, it makes us split our sides!

With ’is black coat-tails a-bobbin’ to Ta-ra-ra Boom-der-ay!

’E’s the proper kind o’ padre for ten deaths a day.

An’ Father Victor ’elps ’im with our Roman Catholicks —

He knows an ’eap of Irish songs an’ rummy conjurin’ tricks;

An’ the two they works together when it comes to play or pray;

So we keep the ball a-rollin’ on ten deaths a day.

We’ve got the cholerer in camp — we’ve got it ’ot an’ sweet;

It ain’t no Christmas dinner, but it’s ’elped an’ we must eat.

We’ve gone beyond the funkin’, ‘cause we’ve found it doesn’t pay,

An’ we’re rockin’ round the Districk on ten deaths a day!

Then strike your camp an’ go, the Rains are fallin’,

The bugle’s callin’!

The dead are bushed an’ stoned to keep ’em safe below!

An’ them that do not like it they can lump it,

An’ them that can not stand it they can jump it;

We’ve got to die somewhere — some way — some’ow —

We might as well begin to do it now!

Then, Number One, let down the tent-pole slow,

Knock out the pegs an’ ’old the corners — so!

Fold in the flies, furl up the ropes, an’ stow!

Oh, strike — oh, strike your camp an’ go!

(Gawd ’elp us!)

The Ladies.

I’ve taken my fun where I’ve found it;

I’ve rogued an’ I’ve ranged in my time;

I’ve ’ad my pickin’ o’ sweet’earts,

An’ four o’ the lot was prime.

One was an ’arf-caste widow,

One was a woman at Prome,

One was the wife of a jemadar-sais,1

An’ one is a girl at ’ome.

Now I aren’t no ’and with the ladies,

For, takin’ ’em all along,

You never can say till you’ve tried ’em,

An’ then you are like to be wrong.

There’s times when you’ll think that you mightn’t,

There’s times when you’ll know that you might;

But the things you will learn from the Yellow an’ Brown,

They’ll ’elp you an ’eap with the White!

I was a young un at ’Oogli,

Shy as a girl to begin;

Aggie de Castrer she made me,

An’ Aggie was clever as sin;

Older than me, but my first un-

More like a mother she were —

Showed me the way to promotion an’ pay,

An’ I learned about women from ’er.

Then I was ordered to Burma,

Actin’ in charge o’ Bazar,

An’ I got me a tiddy live ’eathen

Through buyin’ supplies off ’er pa.

Funny an’ yellow an’ faithful —

Doll in a teacup she were,

But we lived on the square, like a true-married pair,

An’ I learned about women from ’er.

Then we was shifted to Neemuch

(Or I might ha’ been keepin’ ’er now),

An’ I took with a shiny she-devil,

The wife of a nigger at Mhow;

Taught me the gipsy-folks’ bolee;2

Kind o’ volcano she were,

For she knifed me one night ‘cause I wished she was white,

And I learned about women from ’er.

Then I come ’ome in the trooper,

‘Long of a kid o’ sixteen —

Girl from a convent at Meerut,

The straightest I ever ’ave seen.

Love at first sight was ’er trouble,

She didn’t know what it were;

An’ I wouldn’t do such, ‘cause I liked ’er too much,

But — I learned about women from ’er!

I’ve taken my fun where I’ve found it,

An’ now I must pay for my fun,

For the more you ’ave known o’ the others

The less will you settle to one;

An’ the end of it’s sittin’ and thinkin’,

An’ dreamin’ Hell-fires to see;

So be warned by my lot (which I know you will not),

An’ learn about women from me!

What did the colonel’s lady think?

Nobody never knew.

Somebody asked the sergeant’s wife,

An’ she told ’em true.

When you get to a man in the case,

They’re like as a row of pins —

For the colonel’s lady an’ Judy O’Grady

Are sisters under their skins!

1 Head-groom.

2 Slang.

Bill ’Awkins.

“’As anybody seen Bill ’Awkins?”

“Now ’ow in the devil would I know?”

“’E’s taken my girl out walkin’,

An’ I’ve got to tell ’im so — Gawd — bless —’im!

I’ve got to tell ’im so.”

“D’yer know what ’e’s like, Bill ’Awkins?”

“Now what in the devil would I care?”

“’E’s the livin’, breathin’ image of an organ-grinder’s monkey,

With a pound of grease in ’is ’air — Gawd — bless —’im!

An’ a pound o’ grease in ’is ’air.”

“An’ s’pose you met Bill ’Awkins,

Now what in the devil ’ud ye do?”

“I’d open ’is cheek to ’is chin-strap buckle,

An’ bung up ’is both eyes, too — Gawd — bless —’im!

An’ bung up ’is both eyes, too!”

“Look ’ere, where ’e comes, Bill ’Awkins!

Now what in the devil will you say?”

“It isn’t fit an’ proper to be fightin’ on a Sunday,

So I’ll pass ’im the time o’ day — Gawd — bless —’im!

I’ll pass ’im the time o’ day!”

The Mother-Lodge.

There was Rundle, Station Master,

An’ Beazeley of the Rail,

An’ ’Ackman, Commissariat,

An’ Donkin o’ the Jail;

An’ Blake, Conductor–Sargent,

Our Master twice was ’e,

With ’im that kept the Europe shop,

Old Framjee Eduljee.

Outside —“Sergeant! Sir! Salute! Salaam!”

Inside —“Brother,” an’ it doesn’t do no ’arm.

We met upon the Level an’ we parted on the Square,

An’ I was Junior Deacon in my Mother Lodge out there!

We’d Bola Nath, Accountant,

An’ Saul the Aden Jew,

An’ Din Mohammed, draughtsman

Of the Survey Office too;

There was Babu Chuckerbutty,

An’ Amir Singh the Sikh,

An’ Castro from the fittin’-sheds,

The Roman Catholick!

We ’adn’t good regalia,

An’ our Lodge was old an’ bare,

But we knew the Ancient Landmarks,

An’ we kep’ ’em to a hair;

An’ lookin’ on it backwards

It often strikes me thus,

There ain’t such things as infidels,

Excep’, per’aps, it’s us.

For monthly, after Labour,

We’d all sit down and smoke

(We dursn’t give no banquits,

Lest a Brother’s caste were broke),

An’ man on man got talkin’

Religion an’ the rest,

An’ every man comparin’

Of the God ’e knew the best.

So man on man got talkin’,

An’ not a Brother stirred

Till mornin’ waked the parrots

An’ that dam’ brain-fever-bird;

We’d say ’twas ’ighly curious,

An’ we’d all ride ’ome to bed,

With Mo’ammed, God, an’ Shiva

Changin’ pickets in our ’ead.

Full oft on Guv’ment service

This rovin’ foot ’ath pressed,

An’ bore fraternal greetin’s

To the Lodges east an’ west,

Accordin’ as commanded

From Kohat to Singapore,

But I wish that I might see them

In my Mother Lodge once more!

I wish that I might see them,

My Brethren black an’ brown,

With the trichies smellin’ pleasant

An’ the hog-darn3 passin’ down;

An’ the old khansamah4 snorin’

On the bottle-khana5 floor,

Like a Master in good standing

With my Mother Lodge once more!

Outside —“Sergeant! Sir! Salute! Salaam!”

Inside —“Brother,” an’ it doesn’t do no ’arm.

We met upon the Level an’ we parted on the Square,

An’ I was Junior Deacon in my Mother Lodge out there!

3 Cigar-lighter.

4 Butler.

5 Pantry.

“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!

The Sergeant’s Weddin’.

’E was warned agin’ ’er —

That’s what made ’im look;

She was warned agin’ ’im-

That is why she took.

Wouldn’t ’ear no reason,

Went an’ done it blind;

We know all about ’em,

They’ve got all to find!

Cheer for the Sergeant’s weddin’—

Give ’em one cheer more!

Gray gun-’orses in the lando,

An’ a rogue is married to, etc.

What’s the use o’ tellin’

’Arf the lot she’s been?

’E’s a bloomin’ robber,

An’ ’e keeps canteen.

’Ow did ’e get ’is buggy?

Gawd, you needn’t ask!

Made ’is forty gallon

Out of every cask!

Watch ’im, with ’is ’air cut,

Count us filin’ by —

Won’t the Colonel praise ’is

Pop — u — lar — i — ty!

We ’ave scores to settle —

Scores for more than beer;

She’s the girl to pay ’em —

That is why we’re ’ere!

See the chaplain thinkin’?

See the women smile?

Twig the married winkin’

As they take the aisle?

Keep your side-arms quiet,

Dressin’ by the Band.

Ho! You ’oly beggars,

Cough be’ind your ’and!

Now it’s done an’ over,

’Ear the organ squeak,

Voice that breathed o’er Eden”—

Ain’t she got the cheek!

White an’ laylock ribbons,

Think yourself so fine!

I’d pray Gawd to take yer

‘Fore I made yer mine!

Escort to the kerridge,

Wish ’im luck, the brute!

Chuck the slippers after —

[Pity ‘taint a boot!]

Bowin’ like a lady,

Blushin’ like a lad —

’Oo would say to see ’em —

Both are rotten bad!

Cheer for the Sergeant’s weddin’—

Give ’em one cheer more!

Gray gun-’orses in the lando,

An’ a rogue is married to, etc.

The Jacket.

Through the Plagues of Egyp’ we was chasin’ Arabi,

Gettin’ down an’ shovin’ in the sun;

An’ you might ’ave called us dirty, an’ you might ha’ called us dry,

An’ you might ’ave ’eard us talkin’ at the gun.

But the Captain ’ad ’is jacket, an’ the jacket it was new —

(’Orse–Gunners, listen to my song!)

An’ the wettin’ of the jacket is the proper thing to do,

Nor we didn’t keep ’im waiting very long!

One day they give us orders for to shell a sand redoubt,

Loadin’ down the axle-arms with case;

But the Captain knew ’is dooty, an’ he took the crackers out,

An’ he put some proper liquor in its place.

An’ the Captain saw the shrapnel (which is six-an’-thirty clear).

(’Orse–Gunners, listen to my song!)

“Will you draw the weight,” sez ’e, “or will you draw the beer?”

An’ we didn’t keep ’im waitin’ very long.

For the Captain, etc.

Then we trotted gentle, not to break the bloomin’ glass,

Though the Arabites ’ad all their ranges marked;

But we dursn’t ’ardly gallop, for the most was bottled Bass,

An’ we’d dreamed of it since we was disembarked.

So we fired economic with the shells we ’ad in ’and,

(’Orse–Gunners, listen to my song!)

But the beggars under cover ’ad the impidence to stand,

An’ we couldn’t keep ’em waitin’ very long.

And the Captain, etc.

So we finished ’arf the liquor (an’ the Captain took champagne),

An’ the Arabites was shootin’ all the while;

An’ we left our wounded ’appy with the empties on the plain,

An’ we used the bloomin’ guns for pro-jec-tile!

We limbered up an’ galloped — there were nothin’ else to do —

(’Orse–Gunners, listen to my song!)

An’ the Battery come a-boundin’ like a boundin’ kangaroo,

But they didn’t watch us comin’ very long.

As the Captain, etc.

We was goin’ most extended — we was drivin’ very fine,

An’ the Arabites were loosin’ ’igh an’ wide,

Till the Captain took the glassy with a rattlin’ right incline,

An’ we dropped upon their ’eads the other side.

Then we give ’em quarter — such as ’adn’t up and cut,

(’Orse–Gunners, listen to my song!)

An’ the Captain stood a limberful of fizzy — somethin’ Brutt,

But we didn’t leave it fizzing very long.

For the Captain, etc.

We might ha’ been court-martialled, but it all come out all right

When they signalled us to join the main command.

There was every round expended, there was every gunner tight,

An’ the Captain waved a corkscrew in ’is ’and!

But the Captain had ’is jacket, etc.

The ’Eathen.

The ’eathen in ’is blindness bows down to wood an’ stone;

’E don’t obey no orders unless they is ’is own;

’E keeps ’is side-arms awful: ’e leaves ’em all about,

An’ then comes up the regiment an’ pokes the ’eathen out.

All along o’ dirtiness, all along o’ mess,

All along o’ doin’ things rather-more-or-less,

All along of abby-nay,6 kul,7 and hazar-ho,8

Mind you keep your rifle an’ yourself jus’ so!

The young recruit is ’aughty —’e draf’s from Gawd knows where;

They bid ’im show ’is stockin’s an’ lay ’is mattress square;

’E calls it bloomin’ nonsense —’e doesn’t know, no more —

An’ then up comes ’is company an’ kicks ’em round the floor!

The young recruit is ’ammered —’e takes it very ’ard;

’E ’angs ’is ’ead an’ mutters —’e sulks about the yard;

’E talks o’ “cruel tyrants” ’e’ll swing for by-an’-bye,

An’ the others ’ears an’ mocks ’im, an’ the boy goes orf to cry.

The young recruit is silly —’e thinks o’ suicide;

’E’s lost ’is gutter-devil; ’e ’asn’t got ’is pride;

But day by day they kicks ’im, which ’elps ’im on a bit,

Till ’e finds ’isself one mornin’ with a full an’ proper kit.

Gettin’ clear o’ dirtiness, gettin’ done with mess,

Gettin’ shut o’ doin’ things rather-more-or-less;

Not so fond of abby-nay, kul, nor hazar-ho,

Learns to keep ’is rifle an’ ’isself jus’ so!

The young recruit is ’appy —’e throws a chest to suit;

You see ’im grow mustaches; you ’ear ’im slap ’is boot;

’E learns to drop the “bloodies” from every word he slings,

An’ ’e shows an ’ealthy brisket when ’e strips for bars an’ rings.

The cruel tyrant sergeants they watch ’im ’arf a year;

They watch ’im with ’is comrades, they watch ’im with ’is beer;

They watch ’im with the women, at the regimental dance,

And the cruel tyrant sergeants send ’is name along for “Lance.”

An’ now ’e’s ’arf o’ nothin’, an’ all a private yet,

’Is room they up an’ rags ’im to see what they will get;

They rags ’im low an’ cunnin’, each dirty trick they can,

But ’e learns to sweat ’is temper an’ ’e learns to know ’is man.

An’, last, a Colour–Sergeant, as such to be obeyed,

’E leads ’is men at cricket, ’e leads ’em on parade;

They sees ’em quick an’ ’andy, uncommon set an’ smart,

An’ so ’e talks to orficers which ’ave the Core at ’eart.

’E learns to do ’is watchin’ without it showin’ plain;

’E learns to save a dummy, an’ shove ’im straight again;

’E learns to check a ranker that’s buyin’ leave to shirk;

An’ ’e learns to make men like ’im so they’ll learn to like their work.

An’ when it comes to marchin’ he’ll see their socks are right,

An’ when it comes to action ’e shows ’em ’ow to sight;

’E knows their ways of thinkin’ and just what’s in their mind;

’E feels when they are comin’ on an’ when they’ve fell be’ind.

’E knows each talkin’ corpril that leads a squad astray;

’E feels ’is innards ’eavin’, ’is bowels givin’ way;

’E sees the blue-white faces all tryin’ ’ard to grin,

An’ ’e stands an’ waits an’ suffers till it’s time to cap ’em in.

An’ now the hugly bullets come peckin’ through the dust,

An’ no one wants to face ’em, but every beggar must;

So, like a man in irons which isn’t glad to go,

They moves ’em off by companies uncommon stiff an’ slow.

Of all ’is five years’ schoolin’ they don’t remember much

Excep’ the not retreatin’, the step an’ keepin’ touch.

It looks like teachin’ wasted when they duck an’ spread an’ ’op,

But if ’e ’adn’t learned ’em they’d be all about the shop!

An’ now it’s “’Oo goes backward?” an’ now it’s “’Oo comes on?”

An’ now it’s “Get the doolies,” an’ now the captain’s gone;

An’ now it’s bloody murder, but all the while they ’ear

’Is voice, the same as barrick drill, a-shepherdin’ the rear.

’E’s just as sick as they are, ’is ’eart is like to split,

But ’e works ’em, works ’em, works ’em till ’e feels ’em take the bit;

The rest is ’oldin’ steady till the watchful bugles play,

An’ ’e lifts ’em, lifts ’em, lifts ’em through the charge that wins the day!

The ’eathen in ’is blindness bows down to wood an’ stone;

’E don’t obey no orders unless they is ’is own;

The ’eathen in ’is blindness must end where ’e began,

But the backbone of the Army is the noncommissioned man!

Keep away from dirtiness — keep away from mess.

Don’t get into doin’ things rather-more-or-less!

Let’s ha’ done with abby-nay, kul, an’ hazar-ho;

Mind you keep your rifle an’ yourself jus’ so!

6 Not now.

7 To-morrow.

8 Wait a bit.

The Shut-Eye Sentry.

Sez the Junior Orderly Sergeant

To the Senior Orderly Man:

“Our Orderly Orf’cer’s hokee-mut,

You ’elp ’im all you can.

For the wine was old and the night is cold,

An’ the best we may go wrong,

So, ‘fore ’e gits to the sentry-box,

You pass the word along.”

Then it was “Rounds! What rounds?” at two of a frosty night,

’E’s ’oldin’ on by the sergeant’s sash, but, sentry, shut your eye.

An’ it’s “Pass! All’s well!” Oh, ain’t ’e rockin’ tight!

’E’ll need an affidavit pretty badly by-an’-bye.

The moon was white on the barricks,

The road was white an’ wide,

An’ the Orderly Orf’cer took it all,

An’ the ten-foot ditch beside.

An’ the corporal pulled an’ the sergeant pushed,

An’ the three they wagged along,

But I’d shut my eyes in the sentry-box,

So I didn’t see nothin’ wrong.

Though it was “Rounds! What rounds?” O corporal, ’old ’im up!

’E’s usin’ ’is cap as it shouldn’t be used, but, sentry, shut your eye.

An’ it’s “Pass! All’s well!” Ho, shun the foamin’ cup!

’E’ll need, etc.

’Twas after four in the mornin’;

We ’ad to stop the fun,

An’ we sent ’im ’ome on a bullock-cart,

With ’is belt an’ stock undone;

But we sluiced ’im down an’ we washed ’im out,

An’ a first-class job we made,

When we saved ’im smart as a bombardier

For six o’clock parade.

It ’ad been “Rounds! What rounds?” Oh, shove ’im straight again!

’E’s usin’ ’is sword for a bicycle, but, sentry, shut your eye.

An’ it was “Pass! All’s well!” ’E’s called me “darlin’ Jane”!

’E’ll need, etc.

The drill was ’ard an’ ’eavy,

The sky was ’ot an’ blue,

An’ ’is eye was wild an’ ’is ’air was wet,

But ’is sergeant pulled ’im through.

Our men was good old trusties —

They’d done it on their ’ead;

But you ought to ’ave ’eard ’em markin’ time

To ’ide the things ’e said!

For it was “Right flank — wheel!” for “’Alt, an’ stand at ease!”

An’ “Left extend!” for “Centre close!” O marker, shut your eye!

An’ it was, “’Ere, sir, ’ere! before the colonel sees!”

So he needed affidavits pretty badly by-an’-bye.

There was two-an’-thirty sergeants,

There was corp’rals forty-one,

There was just nine ’undred rank an’ file

To swear to a touch o’ sun.

There was me ’e’d kissed in the sentry-box

(As I ’ave not told in my song),

But I took my oath, which were Bible truth,

I ’adn’t seen nothin’ wrong.

There’s them that’s ’ot an’ ’aughty,

There’s them that’s cold an’ ’ard,

But there comes a night when the best gets tight,

An’ then turns out the Guard.

I’ve seen them ’ide their liquor

In every kind o’ way,

But most depends on makin’ friends

With Privit Thomas A.

When it is “Rounds! What rounds?” ’E’s breathin’ through ’is nose.

’E’s reelin’, rollin’, roarin’ ripe, but, sentry, shut your eye.

An’ it’s “Pass! All’s well!” An’ that’s the way it goes.

We’ll ’elp ’im for ’is mother, an’ ’e’ll ’elp us by-an’-bye.

“Mary, Pity Women!”

You call yourself a man,

For all you used to swear,

An’ leave me, as you can,

My certain shame to bear?

I ’ear! You do not care —

You done the worst you know.

I ’ate you, grinnin’ there. . . .

Ah, Gawd, I love you so!

Nice while it lasted, an’ now it is over —

Tear out your ’eart an’ good-bye to your lover!

What’s the use o’ grievin’, when the mother that bore you

(Mary, pity women!) knew it all before you?

It aren’t no false alarm,

The finish to your fun;

You — you ’ave brung the ’arm,

An’ I’m the ruined one;

An’ now you’ll off an’ run

With some new fool in tow.

Your ’eart? You ’aven’t none. . . .

Ah, Gawd, I love you so!

When a man is tired there is naught will bind ’im;

All ’e solemn promised ’e will shove be’ind ’im.

What’s the good o’ prayin’ for The Wrath to strike ’im,

(Mary, pity women!) when the rest are like ’im?

What ’ope for me or — it?

What’s left for us to do?

I’ve walked with men a bit,

But this — but this is you!

So ’elp me Christ, it’s true!

Where can I ’ide or go?

You coward through an’ through! . . .

Ah, Gawd, I love you so!

All the more you give ’em the less are they for givin’!

Love lies dead, an’ you can not kiss ’im livin’.

Down the road ’e led you there is no returnin’,

(Mary, pity women!) but you’re late in learnin’.

You’d like to treat me fair?

You can’t, because we’re pore?

We’d starve? What do I care!

We might, but this is shore:

I want the name — no more —

The name, an’ lines to show,

An’ not to be an ’ore. . . .

Ah, Gawd, I love you so!

What’s the good o’ pleadin’, when the mother that bore you

(Mary, pity women!) knew it all before you?

Sleep on ’is promises an’ wake to your sorrow,

(Mary, pity women!) for we sail tomorrow!

For to Admire.

The Injian Ocean sets an’ smiles

So sof’, so bright, so bloomin’ blue;

There aren’t a wave for miles an’ miles

Excep’ the jiggle from the screw.

The ship is swep’, the day is done,

The bugle’s gone for smoke an’ play;

An’ black agin’ the settin’ sun

The Lascar sings, “Hum deckty hai!9

For to admire an’ for to see,

For to be’old this world so wide —

It never done no good to me,

But I can’t drop it if I tried!

I see the sergeants pitchin’ quoits,

I ’ear the women laugh an’ talk,

I spy upon the quarter-deck

The orficers an’ lydies walk.

I thinks about the things that was,

An’ leans an’ looks acrost the sea,

Till, spite of all the crowded ship,

There’s no one lef’ alive but me.

The things that was which I ’ave seen,

In barrick, camp, an’ action too,

I tells them over by myself,

An’ sometimes wonders if they’re true;

For they was odd — most awful odd —

But all the same now they are o’er,

There must be ’eaps o’ plenty such,

An’ if I wait I’ll see some more.

Oh, I ’ave come upon the books,

An’ often broke a barrick rule,

An’ stood beside an’ watched myself

Be’avin’ like a bloomin’ fool.

I paid my price for findin’ out,

Nor never grutched the price I paid,

But sat in Clink without my boots,

Admirin’ ’ow the world was made.

Be’old a cloud upon the beam,

An’ ’umped above the sea appears

Old Aden, like a barrick-stove

That no one’s lit for years an’ years!

I passed by that when I began,

An’ I go ’ome the road I came,

A time-expired soldier-man

With six years’ service to ’is name.

My girl she said, “Oh, stay with me!”

My mother ’eld me to ’er breast.

They’ve never written none, an’ so

They must ’ave gone with all the rest —

With all the rest which I ’ave seen

An’ found an’ known an’ met along.

I cannot say the things I feel,

But still I sing my evenin’ song:

For to admire an’ for to see,

For to be’old this world so wide —

It never done no good to me,

But I can’t drop it if I tried!

9 “I’m looking out.”

003

When Earth’s last picture is painted, and the tubes are twisted and dried,

When the oldest colours have faded, and the youngest critic has died,

We shall rest, and, faith, we shall need it — lie down for an æon or two,

Till the Master of All Good Workmen shall set us to work anew!

And those that were good shall be happy: they shall sit in a golden chair;

They shall splash at a ten-league canvas with brushes of comets’ hair;

They shall find real saints to draw from — Magdalene, Peter, and Paul;

They shall work for an age at a sitting and never be tired at all!

And only the Master shall praise us, and only the Master shall blame;

And no one shall work for money, and no one shall work for fame;

But each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star,

Shall draw the Thing as he sees It for the God of Things as They Are!

004

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