Many Inventions, by Rudyard Kipling

To the True Romance

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 rule to trick th’ arithmetic
   Too base of leaguing odds —
The spur of trust, the curb of lust,
   Thou handmaid of the Gods!

O Charity, all patiently
   Abiding wrack and scaith!
O 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 know 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!

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:56