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Title: The Years Between
Author: Kipling, Rudyard, 1865-1936
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Methuen and Co. Ltd.
36 Essex Street W.C.
First Published in 1919



    _Seven Watchmen sitting in a tower,
      Watching what had come upon mankind,
    Showed the Man the Glory and the Power,
      And bade him shape the Kingdom to his mind.
    'All things on Earth your will shall win you'
      ('Twas so their counsel ran)
    'But the Kingdom--the Kingdom is within you,'
      Said the Man's own mind to the Man.
        For time, and some time--
    As it was in the bitter years before,
      So it shall be in the over-sweetened hour--
    That a man's mind is wont to tell him more
      Than Seven Watchmen sitting in a tower._


  BENEFACTORS, THE             96
  CHOICE, THE                  35
  'CITY OF BRASS, THE'        148
  COVENANT, THE                13
  CRAFTSMAN, THE               91
  DEAD KING, THE              100
  DEATH-BED, A                106
  DEDICATION                    v
  EN-DOR                       55
  EPITAPHS                    135
  FRANCE                       15
  GEHAZI                      109
  GETHSEMANE                   85
  HOLY-WAR, THE                38
  HOUSES, THE                  42
  HYÆNAS, THE                  68
  JUSTICE                     156
  IRISH GUARDS, THE            48
  LORD ROBERTS                 31
  MARY'S SON                   80
  MESOPOTAMIA                  65
  MY BOY JACK                  61
  NATIVITY, A                  52
  NATURAL THEOLOGY            121
  OLDEST SONG, THE            119
  OUTLAWS, THE                 27
  PILGRIM'S WAY, A            114
  PRO-CONSULS, THE             87
  QUESTION, THE                33
  RECANTATION, A               58
  ROWERS, THE                   1
  SONG AT COCK-CROW, A        125
  SONG IN STORM, A             24
  SONS OF MARTHA, THE          75
  SPIES' MARCH, THE            70
  THINGS AND THE MAN           93
  ULSTER                        9
  VERDICTS, THE                63
  VETERANS, THE                 5
  VIRGINITY, THE              112
  ZION                         29


  _Across a world where all men grieve,_                             156
  _A._ 'I was a "have"' _B._ 'I was a "have-not,"'                   135
  After the burial-parties leave,                                     68
  _Ah! What avails the classic bent,_                                 96
  _A tinker out of Bedford,_                                          38

  Be well assured that on our side,                                   24
  Brethren, how shall it fare with me,                                33
  _Broke to every known mischance, lifted over all,_                  15

  For all we have and are,                                            21

  God rest you, peaceful gentlemen, let nothing you dismay,           44

  'Have you news of my boy Jack?'                                     61
  He passed in the very battle-smoke,                                 31

  I ate my fill of a whale that died,                                121
  I do not look for holy saints to guide me on my way,               114
  If you stop to find out what your wages will be,                    80
  _In a land that the sand overlays--the ways to her gates are
      untrod,_                                                       148

  Not in the thick of the fight,                                      63

  Oh ye who hold the written clue,                                    93
  Once, after long-drawn revel at The Mermaid,                        91

  _Seven Watchmen sitting in a tower,_                                 v

  _The Babe was laid in the Manger,_                                  52
  The banked oars fell an hundred strong,                              1
  The dark eleventh hour,                                              9
  The Doorkeepers of Zion,                                            29
  The fans and the beltings they roar round me,                       81
  The first time that Peter denied his Lord,                         125
  The Garden called Gethsemane,                                       85
  _The overfaithful sword returns the user,_                          87
  There are no leaders to lead us to honour, and yet without leaders
      we sally,                                                       70
  The road to En-dor is easy to tread,                                55
  These were never your true love's eyes,                            119
  The Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good
      part,                                                           75
  They shall not return to us, the resolute, the young,               65
  'This is the State above the Law,                                  106
  To-day, across our fathers' graves,                                  5
  _To the Judge of Right and Wrong,_                                  35
  Through learned and laborious years,                                27
  Try as he will, no man breaks wholly loose,                        112
  'Twixt my house and thy house the pathway is broad,                 42

  We're not so old in the Army List,                                  48
  We thought we ranked above the chance of ill,                       13
  We were all one heart and one race,                                  6
  What boots it on the Gods to call?                                  58
  'Whence comest thou, Gehazi,                                       109
  When the Himalayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride,         128
  _Who in the Realm to-day lays down dear life for the sake of a
      land more dear?_                                               100



(When Germany proposed that England should help her in a naval
demonstration to collect debts from Venezuela.)

    The banked oars fell an hundred strong,
      And backed and threshed and ground,
    But bitter was the rowers' song
      As they brought the war-boat round.

    They had no heart for the rally and roar
      That makes the whale-bath smoke--
    When the great blades cleave and hold and leave
      As one on the racing stroke.

    They sang:--'What reckoning do you keep,
      And steer her by what star,
    If we come unscathed from the Southern deep
       To be wrecked on a Baltic bar?

    'Last night you swore our voyage was done,
      But seaward still we go,
    And you tell us now of a secret vow
      You have made with an open foe!

    'That we must lie off a lightless coast
      And haul and back and veer,
    At the will of the breed that have wronged us most
      For a year and a year and a year!

    'There was never a shame in Christendie
      They laid not to our door--
    And you say we must take the winter sea
      And sail with them once more?

    'Look South! The gale is scarce o'erpast
      That stripped and laid us down,
    When we stood forth but they stood fast
      And prayed to see us drown

    'Our dead they mocked are scarcely cold,
      Our wounds are bleeding yet--
    And you tell us now that our strength is sold
      To help them press for a debt'

    ''Neath all the flags of all mankind
      That use upon the seas,
    Was there no other fleet to find
      That you strike hands with these?

    'Of evil times that men can choose
      On evil fate to fall,
    What brooding Judgment let you loose
      To pick the worst of all?

    'In sight of peace--from the Narrow Seas
      O'er half the world to run--
    With a cheated crew, to league anew
      With the Goth and the shameless Hun!'


[Written for the gathering of survivors of the Indian Mutiny, Albert
Hall, 1907.]

    To-day, across our fathers' graves,
      The astonished years reveal
    The remnant of that desperate host
      Which cleansed our East with steel.

    Hail and farewell! We greet you here,
      With tears that none will scorn--
    O Keepers of the House of old,
      Or ever we were born!

    One service more we dare to ask--
      Pray for us, heroes, pray,
    That when Fate lays on us our task
      We do not shame the Day!


JUNE 29, 1911

('On the re-assembling of Parliament after the Coronation, the
Government have no intention of allowing their followers to vote
according to their convictions on the Declaration of London, but
insist on a strictly party vote'--_Daily Papers_.)

    We were all one heart and one race
      When the Abbey trumpets blew.
    For a moment's breathing-space
      We had forgotten you
    Now you return to your honoured place
      Panting to shame us anew.

    We have walked with the Ages dead--
      With our Past alive and ablaze,
    And you bid us pawn our honour for bread;
      This day of all the days!
    And you cannot wait till our guests are sped,
      Or last week's wreath decays?

    The light is still in our eyes
      Of Faith and Gentlehood,
    Of Service and Sacrifice,
      And it does not match our mood,
    To turn so soon to your treacheries
      That starve our land of her food.

    Our ears still carry the sound
      Of our once Imperial seas,
    Exultant after our King was crowned,
      Beneath the sun and the breeze.
    It is too early to have them bound
      Or sold at your decrees.

    Wait till the memory goes,
      Wait till the visions fade,
    We may betray in time, God knows,
      But we would not have it said,
    When you make report to our scornful foes,
      That we kissed as we betrayed!



('Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover
themselves with their works; their works are works of iniquity,
and the act of violence is in their hands.'--_Isaiah lix 6_)

    The dark eleventh hour
    Draws on and sees us sold
    To every evil power
    We fought against of old.
    Rebellion, rapine, hate,
    Oppression, wrong and greed
    Are loosed to rule our fate,
    By England's act and deed.

    The Faith in which we stand,
    The laws we made and guard,
    Our honour, lives, and land
    Are given for reward
    To Murder done by night,
    To Treason taught by day,
    To folly, sloth, and spite,
    And we are thrust away.

    The blood our fathers spilt,
    Our love, our toils, our pains,
    Are counted us for guilt,
    And only bind our chains.
    Before an Empire's eyes
    The traitor claims his price.
    What need of further lies?
    We are the sacrifice.

    We asked no more than leave
    To reap where we had sown,
    Through good and ill to cleave
    To our own flag and throne.
    Now England's shot and steel
    Beneath that flag must show
    How loyal hearts should kneel
    To England's oldest foe.

    We know the war prepared
    On every peaceful home,
    We know the hells declared
    For such as serve not Rome--
    The terror, threats, and dread
    In market, hearth, and field--
    We know, when all is said,
    We perish if we yield.

    Believe, we dare not boast,
    Believe, we do not fear--
    We stand to pay the cost
    In all that men hold dear.
    What answer from the North?
    One Law, one Land, one Throne.
    If England drive us forth
    We shall not fall alone.



    We thought we ranked above the chance of ill.
      Others might fall, not we, for we were wise--
    Merchants in freedom. So, of our free-will
      We let our servants drug our strength with lies.
    The pleasure and the poison had its way
      On us as on the meanest, till we learned
    That he who lies will steal, who steals will slay.
      Neither God's judgment nor man's heart was turned.

    Yet there remains His Mercy--to be sought
    Through wrath and peril till we cleanse the wrong
    By that last right which our forefathers claimed
    When their Law failed them and its stewards were bought.
    This is our cause. God help us, and make strong
    Our wills to meet Him later, unashamed!



    _Broke to every known mischance, lifted over all
    By the light sane joy of life, the buckler of the Gaul;
    Furious in luxury, merciless in toil,
    Terrible with strength that draws from her tireless soil;
    Strictest judge of her own worth, gentlest of man's mind,
    First to follow Truth and last to leave old Truths behind--
    France, beloved of every soul that loves its fellow-kind!_

    Ere our birth (rememberest thou?) side by side we lay
    Fretting in the womb of Rome to begin our fray.
    Ere men knew our tongues apart, our one task was known--
    Each must mould the other's fate as he wrought his own
    To this end we stirred mankind till all Earth was ours,
    Till our world-end strifes begat wayside thrones and powers--
    Puppets that we made or broke to bar the other's path--
    Necessary, outpost folk, hirelings of our wrath
    To this end we stormed the seas, tack for tack, and burst
    Through the doorways of new worlds, doubtful which was first,
    Hand on hilt (rememberest thou?) ready for the blow--
    Sure, whatever else we met, we should meet our foe.
    Spurred or balked at every stride by the other's strength,
    So we rode the ages down and every ocean's length!

    Where did you refrain from us or we refrain from you?
    Ask the wave that has not watched war between us two!
    Others held us for a while, but with weaker charms,
    These we quitted at the call for each other's arms.
    Eager toward the known delight, equally we strove--
    Each the other's mystery, terror, need, and love
    To each other's open court with our proofs we came.
    Where could we find honour else, or men to test our claim?
    From each other's throat we wrenched--valour's last reward--
    That extorted word of praise gasped 'twixt lunge and guard.
    In each other's cup we poured mingled blood and tears,
    Brutal joys, unmeasured hopes, intolerable fears--
    All that soiled or salted life for a thousand years.
    Proved beyond the need of proof, matched in every clime,
    O companion, we have lived greatly through all time!

    Yoked in knowledge and remorse, now we come to rest,
    Laughing at old villainies that Time has turned to jest,
    Pardoning old necessities no pardon can efface--
    That undying sin we shared in Rouen marketplace.
    Now we watch the new years shape, wondering if they hold
    Fiercer lightnings in their heart than we launched of old.
    Now we hear new voices rise, question, boast or gird,
    As we raged (rememberest thou?) when our crowds were stirred,
    Now we count new keels afloat, and new hosts on land,
    Massed like ours (rememberest thou?) when our strokes were planned.
    We were schooled for dear life's sake, to know each other's blade
    What can blood and iron make more than we have made?
    We have learned by keenest use to know each other's mind.
    What shall blood and iron loose that we cannot bind?
    We who swept each other's coast, sacked each other's home,
    Since the sword of Brennus clashed on the scales at Rome,
    Listen, count and close again, wheeling girth to girth,
    In the linked and steadfast guard set for peace on earth!

    Broke to every known mischance, lifted over all
    By the light sane joy of life, the buckler of the Gaul;
    Furious in luxury, merciless in toil,
    Terrible with strength renewed from a tireless soil;
    Strictest judge of her own worth, gentlest of man's mind,
    First to face the Truth and last to leave old Truths behind--
    France, beloved of every soul that loves or serves its kind!



    For all we have and are,
    For all our children's fate,
    Stand up and take the war,
    The Hun is at the gate!
    Our world has passed away,
    In wantonness o'erthrown.
    There is nothing left to-day
    But steel and fire and stone!
        Though all we knew depart,
        The old Commandments stand:--
        'In courage keep your heart,
        In strength lift up your hand.'

    Once more we hear the word
    That sickened earth of old:--
    'No law except the Sword
    Unsheathed and uncontrolled.'
    Once more it knits mankind,
    Once more the nations go
    To meet and break and bind
    A crazed and driven foe.

    Comfort, content, delight,
    The ages' slow-bought gain,
    They shrivelled in a night.
    Only ourselves remain
    To face the naked days
    In silent fortitude,
    Through perils and dismays
    Renewed and re-renewed.
        Though all we made depart,
        The old Commandments stand;--
        'In patience keep your heart,
        In strength lift up your hand.'

    No easy hope or lies
    Shall bring us to our goal,
    But iron sacrifice
    Of body, will, and soul.
    There is but one task for all--
    One life for each to give
    Who stands if Freedom fall?
    Who dies if England live?


    Be well assured that on our side
      The abiding oceans fight,
    Though headlong wind and heaping tide
      Make us their sport to-night.
    By force of weather not of war
      In jeopardy we steer,
    Then welcome Fate's discourtesy
      Whereby it shall appear,
        How in all time of our distress,
        And our deliverance too,
        The game is more than the player of the game,
        And the ship is more than the crew.

    Out of the mist into the mirk
      The glimmering combers roll.
    Almost these mindless waters work
      As though they had a soul--
    Almost as though they leagued to whelm
      Our flag beneath their green
    Then welcome Fate's discourtesy
      Whereby it shall be seen, etc.

    Be well assured, though wave and wind
      Have weightier blows in store,
    That we who keep the watch assigned
      Must stand to it the more;
    And as our streaming bows rebuke
      Each billow's baulked career,
    Sing, welcome Fate's discourtesy
      Whereby it is made clear, etc.

    No matter though our deck be swept
      And masts and timber crack--
    We can make good all loss except
      The loss of turning back.
    So, 'twixt these Devils and our deep
      Let courteous trumpets sound,
    To welcome Fate's discourtesy
      Whereby it will be found, etc.

    Be well assured, though in our power
      Is nothing left to give
    But chance and place to meet the hour,
      And leave to strive to live,
    Till these dissolve our Order holds,
      Our Service binds us here.
    Then welcome Fate's discourtesy
      Whereby it is made clear,
        How in all time of our distress,
        And in our triumph too,
        The game is more than the player of the game,
        And the ship is more than the crew!



    Through learned and laborious years
      They set themselves to find
    Fresh terrors and undreamed-of fears
      To heap upon mankind.

    All that they drew from Heaven above
      Or digged from earth beneath,
    They laid into their treasure-trove
      And arsenals of death:

    While, for well-weighed advantage sake,
      Ruler and ruled alike
    Built up the faith they meant to break
      When the fit hour should strike.

    They traded with the careless earth,
      And good return it gave;
    They plotted by their neighbour's hearth
      The means to make him slave.

    When all was ready to their hand
      They loosed their hidden sword,
    And utterly laid waste a land
      Their oath was pledged to guard.

    Coldly they went about to raise
      To life and make more dread
    Abominations of old days,
      That men believed were dead.

    They paid the price to reach their goal
      Across a world in flame;
    But their own hate slew their own soul
      Before that victory came.


    The Doorkeepers of Zion,
      They do not always stand
    In helmet and whole armour,
      With halberds in their hand,
    But, being sure of Zion,
      And all her mysteries,
    They rest awhile in Zion,
    Sit down and smile in Zion;
    Ay, even jest in Zion;
      In Zion, at their ease.

    The Gatekeepers of Baal,
      They dare not sit or lean,
    But fume and fret and posture
      And foam and curse between;
    For being bound to Baal,
      Whose sacrifice is vain.
    Their rest is scant with Baal,
    They glare and pant for Baal,
    They mouth and rant for Baal,
      For Baal in their pain!

    But we will go to Zion,
      By choice and not through dread,
    With these our present comrades
      And those our present dead;
    And, being free of Zion
      In both her fellowships,
    Sit down and sup in Zion--
    Stand up and drink in Zion
    Whatever cup in Zion
      Is offered to our lips!



    He passed in the very battle-smoke
      Of the war that he had descried.
    Three hundred mile of cannon spoke
      When the Master-Gunner died.

    He passed to the very sound of the guns;
      But, before his eye grew dim,
    He had seen the faces of the sons
      Whose sires had served with him.

    He had touched their sword-hilts and greeted each
      With the old sure word of praise;
    And there was virtue in touch and speech
      As it had been in old days.

    So he dismissed them and took his rest,
      And the steadfast spirit went forth
    Between the adoring East and West
      And the tireless guns of the North.

    Clean, simple, valiant, well-beloved,
      Flawless in faith and fame,
    Whom neither ease nor honours moved
      An hair's-breadth from his aim.

    Never again the war-wise face,
      The weighed and urgent word
    That pleaded in the market-place--
      Pleaded and was not heard!

    Yet from his life a new life springs
      Through all the hosts to come,
    And Glory is the least of things
      That follow this man home.



    Brethren, how shall it fare with me
      When the war is laid aside,
    If it be proven that I am he
      For whom a world has died?

    If it be proven that all my good,
      And the greater good I will make,
    Were purchased me by a multitude
      Who suffered for my sake?

    That I was delivered by mere mankind
      Vowed to one sacrifice,
    And not, as I hold them, battle-blind,
      But dying with open eyes?

    That they did not ask me to draw the sword
      When they stood to endure their lot--
    That they only looked to me for a word,
      And I answered I knew them not?

    If it be found, when the battle clears,
      Their death has set me free,
    Then how shall I live with myself through the years
      Which they have bought for me?

    Brethren, how must it fare with me,
      Or how am I justified,
    If it be proven that I am he
      For whom mankind has died,
    If it be proven that I am he
      Who being questioned denied?




      _To the Judge of Right and Wrong
        With Whom fulfilment lies
      Our purpose and our power belong,
        Our faith and sacrifice._

    Let Freedom's Land rejoice!
      Our ancient bonds are riven;
    Once more to us the eternal choice
      Of Good or Ill is given.

    Not at a little cost,
      Hardly by prayer or tears,
    Shall we recover the road we lost
      In the drugged and doubting years.

    But, after the fires and the wrath,
      But, after searching and pain,
    His Mercy opens us a path
      To live with ourselves again.

    In the Gates of Death rejoice!
      We see and hold the good--
    Bear witness, Earth, we have made our choice
      With Freedom's brotherhood!

    Then praise the Lord Most High
      Whose Strength hath saved us whole,
    Who bade us choose that the Flesh should die
      And not the living Soul!

      _To the God in Man displayed--
        Where e'er we see that Birth,
      Be love and understanding paid
        As never yet on earth!_

      _To the Spirit that moves in Man,
        On Whom all worlds depend,
      Be Glory since our world began
        And service to the end!_



('For here lay the excellent wisdom of him that built Mansoul that the
walls could never be broken down nor hurt by the most mighty adverse
potentate unless the townsmen gave consent thereto'--BUNYAN'S _Holy

    _A tinker out of Bedford,
      A vagrant oft in quod,
    A private under Fairfax,
      A minister of God--
    Two hundred years and thirty
      Ere Armageddon came
    His single hand portrayed it,
      And Bunyan was his name!_

    He mapped, for those who follow,
      The world in which we are--
    'This famous town of Mansoul'
      That takes the Holy War
    Her true and traitor people,
      The gates along her wall,
    From Eye Gate unto Feel Gate,
      John Bunyan showed them all.

    All enemy divisions,
      Recruits of every class,
    And highly-screened positions
      For flame or poison-gas,
    The craft that we call modern,
      The crimes that we call new,
    John Bunyan had 'em typed and filed
      In Sixteen Eighty-two

    Likewise the Lords of Looseness
      That hamper faith and works,
    The Perseverance-Doubters,
      And Present-Comfort shirks,
    With brittle intellectuals
      Who crack beneath a strain--
    John Bunyan met that helpful set
      In Charles the Second's reign.

    Emmanuel's vanguard dying
      For right and not for rights,
    My Lord Apollyon lying
      To the State-kept Stockholmites,
    The Pope, the swithering Neutrals,
      The Kaiser and his Gott--
    Their rôles, their goals, their naked souls--
      He knew and drew the lot.

    Now he hath left his quarters,
      In Bunhill Fields to lie.
    The wisdom that he taught us
      Is proven prophecy--
    One watchword through our armies,
      One answer from our lands--
    'No dealings with Diabolus
      As long as Mansoul stands.

    _A pedlar from a hovel,
      The lowest of the low,
    The father of the Novel,
      Salvation's first Defoe,
    Eight blinded generations
      Ere Armageddon came,
    He showed us how to meet it,
      And Bunyan was his name!_




    'Twixt my house and thy house the pathway is broad,
    In thy house or my house is half the world's hoard;
    By my house and thy house hangs all the world's fate,
    On thy house and my house lies half the world's hate.

    For my house and thy house no help shall we find
    Save thy house and my house--kin cleaving to kind:
    If my house be taken, thine tumbleth anon,
    If thy house be forfeit, mine followeth soon.

    'Twixt my house and thy house what talk can there be
    Of headship or lordship, or service or fee?
    Since my house to thy house no greater can send
    Than thy house to my house--friend comforting friend;
    And thy house to my house no meaner can bring
    Than my house to thy house--King counselling King.


    God rest you, peaceful gentlemen, let nothing you dismay,
    But--leave your sports a little while--the dead are borne this way!
    Armies dead and Cities dead, past all count or care.
    God rest you, merry gentlemen, what portent see you there?
        Singing.--Break ground for a wearied host
            That have no ground to keep.
            Give them the rest that they covet most,
            And who shall next to sleep, good sirs,
            In such a trench to sleep?

    God rest you, peaceful gentlemen, but give us leave to pass.
    We go to dig a nation's grave as great as England was.
    For this Kingdom and this Glory and this Power and this Pride
    Three hundred years it flourished--in three hundred days it died.
        Singing--Pour oil for a frozen throng,
            That lie about the ways.
            Give them the warmth they have lacked so long
            And what shall be next to blaze, good sirs,
            On such a pyre to blaze?

    God rest you, thoughtful gentlemen, and send your sleep is light!
    Remains of this dominion no shadow, sound, or sight,
    Except the sound of weeping and the sight of burning fire,
    And the shadow of a people that is trampled into mire.
        Singing.--Break bread for a starving folk
            That perish in the field.
            Give them their food as they take the yoke ...
            And who shall be next to yield, good sirs,
            For such a bribe to yield?

    God rest you, merry gentlemen, and keep you in your mirth!
    Was ever kingdom turned so soon to ashes, blood, and earth?
    'Twixt the summer and the snow--seeding-time and frost--
    Arms and victual, hope and counsel, name and country lost!
        Singing:--_Let down by the foot and the head--
            Shovel and smooth it all!
            So do we bury a Nation dead ..._
            And who shall be next to fall, good sirs,
            With your good help to fall?



    We're not so old in the Army List,
      But we're not so young at our trade,
    For we had the honour at Fontenoy
      Of meeting the Guards' Brigade.
    'Twas Lally, Dillon, Bulkeley, Clare,
      And Lee that led us then,
    And after a hundred and seventy years
      We're fighting for France again!
        _Old Days! The wild geese are flighting,
          Head to the storm as they faced it before!
        For where there are Irish there's bound to be fighting,
          And when there's no fighting, it's Ireland no more!
                                        Ireland no more!_

    The fashion's all for khaki now,
      But once through France we went
    Full-dressed in scarlet Army cloth,
      The English--left at Ghent
    They're fighting on our side to-day.
      But, before they changed their clothes,
    The half of Europe knew our fame,
      As all of Ireland knows!
        _Old Days! The wild geese are flying,
          Head to the storm as they faced it before!
        For where there are Irish there's memory undying,
          And when we forget, it is Ireland no more!
                                        Ireland no more!_

    From Barry Wood to Gouzeaucourt,
      From Boyne to Pilkem Ridge,
    The ancient days come back no more
      Than water under the bridge
    But the bridge it stands and the water runs
      As red as yesterday,
    And the Irish move to the sound of the guns
      Like salmon to the sea.
        _Old Days! The wild geese are ranging,
          Head to the storm as they faced it before!
        For where there are Irish their hearts are unchanging,
          And when they are changed, it is Ireland no more!
                                        Ireland no more!_

    We're not so old in the Army List,
      But we're not so new in the ring,
    For we carried our packs with Marshal Saxe
      When Louis was our King.
    But Douglas Haig's our Marshal now
      And we're King George's men,
    And after one hundred and seventy years
      We're fighting for France again!
        _Ah, France! And did we stand by you,
          When life was made splendid with gifts and rewards?
        Ah, France! And will we deny you
          In the hour of your agony, Mother of Swords?
        Old Days! The wild geese are flighting,
          Head to the storm as they faced it before!
        For where there are Irish there's loving and fighting,
        And when we stop either, it's Ireland no more!
                                        Ireland no more!_



    _The Babe was laid in the Manger
      Between the gentle kine--
    All safe from cold and danger--_
      'But it was not so with mine.
                  (With mine! With mine!)
    'Is it well with the child, is it well?'
      The waiting mother prayed.
    'For I know not how he fell,
      And I know not where he is laid.'

    _A Star stood forth in Heaven,
      The watchers ran to see
    The Sign of the Promise given--_
      'But there comes no sign to me.
                          (To me! To me!)
    '_My_ child died in the dark.
      Is it well with the child, is it well?
    There was none to tend him or mark,
      And I know not how he fell.'

    _The Cross was raised on high;
      The Mother grieved beside--_
    'But the Mother saw Him die
      And took Him when He died.
                    (He died! He died!)
    'Seemly and undefiled
      His burial-place was made--
    Is it well, is it well with the child?
      For I know not where he is laid.'

    _On the dawning of Easter Day
      Comes Mary Magdalene;
    But the Stone was rolled away,
      And the Body was not within--_
                          (Within! Within!)
    'Ah, who will answer my word?'
      The broken mother prayed.
    'They have taken away my Lord,
      And I know not where He is laid.'

       *       *       *       *       *

    _The Star stands forth in Heaven.
      The watchers watch in vain
    For a Sign of the Promise given
      Of peace on Earth again--_
                            (Again! Again!)
    'But I know for Whom he fell'--
      The steadfast mother smiled
    'Is it well with the child--is it well?
      It is well--it is well with the child!'


'Behold there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at En-dor'

1 _Samuel_ XXVIII 7

    The road to En-dor is easy to tread
      For Mother or yearning Wife.
    There, it is sure, we shall meet our Dead
      As they were even in life.
    Earth has not dreamed of the blessing in store
    For desolate hearts on the road to En-dor.

    Whispers shall comfort us out of the dark--
      Hands--ah God!--that we knew!
    Visions and voices--look and heark!--
      Shall prove that our tale is true,
    And that those who have passed to the further shore
    May be hailed--at a price--on the road to En-dor.

    But they are so deep in their new eclipse
      Nothing they say can reach,
    Unless it be uttered by alien lips
      And framed in a stranger's speech.
    The son must send word to the mother that bore,
    Through an hireling's mouth. 'Tis the rule of En-dor.

    And not for nothing these gifts are shown
      By such as delight our dead.
    They must twitch and stiffen and slaver a groan
      Ere the eyes are set in the head,
    And the voice from the belly begins. Therefore
    We pay them a wage where they ply at En-dor.

    Even so, we have need of faith
      And patience to follow the clue.
    Often, at first, what the dear one saith
      Is babble, or jest, or untrue.
    (Lying spirits perplex us sore
    Till our loves--and our lives--are well known at En-dor)....

    _Oh the road to En-dor is the oldest road
      And the craziest road of all!
    Straight it runs to the Witch's abode,
      As it did in the days of Saul,
    And nothing has changed of the sorrow in store
    For such as go down on the road to En-dor!_



    What boots it on the Gods to call?
      Since, answered or unheard,
    We perish with the Gods and all
      Things made--except the Word.

    Ere certain Fate had touched a heart
      By fifty years made cold,
    I judged thee, Lyde, and thy art
      O'erblown and over-bold.

    But he--but he, of whom bereft
      I suffer vacant days--
    He on his shield not meanly left--
      He cherished all thy lays.

    Witness the magic coffer stocked
      With convoluted runes
    Wherein thy very voice was locked
      And linked to circling tunes.

    Witness thy portrait, smoke-defiled,
      That decked his shelter-place.
    Life seemed more present, wrote the child,
      Beneath thy well-known face.

    And when the grudging days restored
      Him for a breath to home,
    He, with fresh crowds of youth, adored
      Thee making mirth in Rome.

    Therefore, I, humble, join the hosts,
      Loyal and loud, who bow
    To thee as Queen of Songs--and ghosts--
      For I remember how
    Never more rampant rose the Hall
      At thy audacious line
    Than when the news came in from Gaul
      Thy son had--followed mine.

    But thou didst hide it in thy breast
      And, capering, took the brunt
    Of blaze and blare, and launched the jest
      That swept next week the front.

    Singer to children! Ours possessed
      Sleep before noon--but thee,
    Wakeful each midnight for the rest,
      No holocaust shall free.

    Yet they who use the Word assigned,
      To hearten and make whole,
    Not less than Gods have served mankind,
      Though vultures rend their soul.


    'Have you news of my boy Jack?'
      _Not this tide._
    'When d'you think that he'll come back?'
      _Not with this wind blowing, and this tide._

    'Has any one else had word of him?'
      _Not this tide.
    For what is sunk will hardly swim,
      Not with this wind blowing, and this tide._

    'Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?'
      _None this tide,
      Nor any tide,
    Except he did not shame his kind--
      Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide._

    _Then hold your head up all the more,
      This tide,
      And every tide;
    Because he was the son you bore,
      And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!_



    Not in the thick of the fight,
      Not in the press of the odds,
    Do the heroes come to their height,
      Or we know the demi-gods.

    That stands over till peace.
      We can only perceive
    Men returned from the seas,
      Very grateful for leave.

    They grant us sudden days
      Snatched from their business of war;
    But we are too close to appraise
      What manner of men they are.

    And, whether their names go down
      With age-kept victories,
    Or whether they battle and drown
      Unreckoned, is hid from our eyes.

    They are too near to be great,
      But our children shall understand
    When and how our fate
      Was changed, and by whose hand.

    Our children shall measure their worth.
      We are content to be blind
    But we know that we walk on a new-born earth
      With the saviours of mankind.



    They shall not return to us, the resolute, the young,
      The eager and whole-hearted whom we gave:
    But the men who left them thriftily to die in their own dung,
      Shall they come with years and honour to the grave?

    They shall not return to us, the strong men coldly slain
      In sight of help denied from day to day:
    But the men who edged their agonies and chid them in their pain,
      Are they too strong and wise to put away?

    Our dead shall not return to us while Day and Night divide--
      Never while the bars of sunset hold:
    But the idle-minded overlings who quibbled while they died,
      Shall they thrust for high employments as of old?

    Shall we only threaten and be angry for an hour?
      When the storm is ended shall we find
    How softly but how swiftly they have sidled back to power
      By the favour and contrivance of their kind?

    Even while they soothe us, while they promise large amends,
      Even while they make a show of fear,
    Do they call upon their debtors, and take council with their friends,
      To confirm and re-establish each career?

    Their lives cannot repay us--their death could not undo--
      The shame that they have laid upon our race:
    But the slothfulness that wasted and the arrogance that slew,
      Shall we leave it unabated in its place?


    After the burial-parties leave
      And the baffled kites have fled,
    The wise hyænas come out at eve
      To take account of our dead.

    How he died and why he died
      Troubles them not a whit.
    They snout the bushes and stones aside
      And dig till they come to it.

    They are only resolute they shall eat
      That they and their mates may thrive,
    And they know that the dead are safer meat
      Than the weakest thing alive.

    (For a goat may butt, and a worm may sting,
      And a child will sometimes stand;
    But a poor dead soldier of the King
      Can never lift a hand.)

    They whoop and halloo and scatter the dirt
      Until their tushes white
    Take good hold in the army shirt,
      And tug the corpse to light,

    And the pitiful face is shewn again
      For an instant ere they close;
    But it is not discovered to living men--
      Only to God and to those

    Who, being soulless, are free from shame,
      Whatever meat they may find.
    Nor do they defile the dead man's name--
      That is reserved for his kind.



('The outbreak is in full swing and our death-rate would sicken
Napoleon.... Dr M---- died last week, and C---- on Monday, but some more
medicines are coming.... We don't seem to be able to check it at all....
Villages panicking badly.... In some places not a living soul.... But at
any rate the experience gained may come in useful, so I am keeping my
notes written up to date in case of accidents.... Death is a queer chap
to live with for steady company.' _Extracted from a private letter from

    There are no leaders to lead us to honour, and yet without leaders
          we sally,
      Each man reporting for duty alone, out of sight, out of reach, of
          his fellow.
    There are no bugles to call the battalions, and yet without bugles
          we rally,
      From the ends of the earth to the ends of the earth, to follow
          the Standard of Yellow!
            _Fall in! O fall in! O fall in!_

        Not where the squadrons mass,
          Not where the bayonets shine,
        Not where the big shell shout as they pass
          Over the firing-line;
        Not where the wounded are,
          Not where the nations die,
        Killed in the cleanly game of war--
          That is no place for a spy!
        O Princes, Thrones and Powers, your work is less than ours--
          Here is no place for a spy!

        Trained to another use,
          We march with colours furled,
        Only concerned when Death breaks loose
          On a front of half a world.
        Only for General Death
          The Yellow Flag may fly,
        While we take post beneath--
          That is the place for a spy.
        Where Plague has spread his pinions over Nations and Dominions--
          Then will be work for a spy!

        The dropping shots begin,
          The single funerals pass,
        Our skirmishers run in,
          The corpses dot the grass!
        The howling towns stampede,
          The tainted hamlets die.
        Now it is war indeed--
          Now there is room for a spy!
        O Peoples, Kings and Lands, we are waiting your commands--
          What is the work for a spy?
              (DRUMS)--_'Fear is upon us, spy!_

        'Go where his pickets hide--
          Unmask the shapes they take,
        Whether a gnat from the waterside,
          Or stinging fly in the brake,
        Or filth of the crowded street,
          Or a sick rat limping by,
        Or a smear of spittle dried in the heat--
          That is the work of a spy!
              (DRUMS)--_Death is upon us, spy!_

        'What does he next prepare?
          Whence will he move to attack?--
        By water, earth or air?--
          How can we head him back?
        Shall we starve him out if we burn
          Or bury his food-supply?
        Slip through his lines and learn--
          That is work for a spy!
              (DRUMS)--_Get to your business, spy!_

        'Does he feint or strike in force?
          Will he charge or ambuscade?
        What is it checks his course?
          Is he beaten or only delayed?
        How long will the lull endure?
          Is he retreating? Why?
        Crawl to his camp and make sure--
          That is the work for a spy!
              (DRUMS)--_Fetch us our answer, spy!_

        'Ride with him girth to girth
          Wherever the Pale Horse wheels,
        Wait on his councils, ear to earth,
          And say what the dust reveals.
        For the smoke of our torment rolls
          Where the burning thousands lie;
        What do we care for men's bodies or souls?
          Bring us deliverance, spy!'


    The Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good
    But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and
        the troubled heart.
    And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to
        the Lord her Guest,
    Her Sons must wait upon Mary's Sons, world without end, reprieve,
        or rest.

    It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the
    It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the
        switches lock.
    It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to
        embark and entrain,
    Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and

    They say to mountains 'Be ye removèd.' They say to the lesser floods
        'Be dry.'
    Under their rods are the rocks reprovèd--they are not afraid of that
        which is high.
    Then do the hill-tops shake to the summit--then is the bed of the
        deep laid bare,
    That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and

    They finger death at their gloves' end where they piece and repiece
        the living wires.
    He rears against the gates they rend: they feed him hungry behind
        their fires.
    Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible
    And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till

    To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is
        Relief afar.
    They are concerned with matters hidden--under the earth-line their
        altars are.
    The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to
        the mouth,
    And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city's

    They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before
        the nuts work loose.
    They do not teach that His Pity allows them to leave their work when
        they damn-well choose.
    As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the
        desert they stand,
    Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren's days may be
        long in the land.

    Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or
    Lo, it is black already with blood some Son of Martha spilled for
    Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
    But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common

    And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessèd--they know the angels are
        on their side.
    They know in them is the Grace confessèd, and for them are the
        Mercies multiplied.
    They sit at the Feet--they hear the Word--they see how truly the
        Promise runs:
    They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and--the Lord He lays it
        on Martha's Sons!


    If you stop to find out what your wages will be
      And how they will clothe and feed you,
    Willie, my son, don't you go on the Sea,
      For the Sea will never need you.

    If you ask for the reason of every command,
      And argue with people about you,
    Willie, my son, don't you go on the Land,
      For the Land will do better without you.

    If you stop to consider the work you have done
      And to boast what your labour is worth, dear,
    Angels may come for you, Willie, my son,
      But you'll never be wanted on Earth, dear!



(Being the words of the tune hummed at her lathe by Mrs. L. Embsay,

    The fans and the beltings they roar round me.
    The power is shaking the floor round me
    Till the lathes pick up their duty and the midnight-shift takes
              It is good for me to be here!

    _Guns in Flanders--Flanders guns!
    (I had a man that worked 'em once!)
    Shells for guns in Flanders, Flanders!
    Shells for guns in Flanders, Flanders!
              Shells for guns in Flanders! Feed the guns!_

    The cranes and the carriers they boom over me,
    The bays and the galleries they loom over me,
    With their quarter-mile of pillars growing little in the distance:
              It is good for me to be here!

    The Zeppelins and Gothas they raid over us.
    Our lights give warning, and fade over us.
    (Seven thousand women keeping quiet in the darkness!)
              Oh, it is good for me to be here!

    The roofs and the buildings they grow round me,
    Eating up the fields I used to know round me;
    And the shed that I began in is a sub-inspector's office--
              So long have I been here!

    I've seen six hundred mornings make our lamps grow dim,
    Through the bit that isn't painted round our skylight rim,
    And the sunshine in the window slope according to the seasons,
              Twice since I've been here.

    The trains on the sidings they call to us
    With the hundred thousand blanks that they haul to us;
    And we send 'em what we've finished, and they take it where it's
              For that is why we are here!

    Man's hate passes as his love will pass.
    God made woman what she always was.
    Them that bear the burden they will never grant forgiveness
              So long as they are here!

    Once I was a woman, but that's by with me.
    All I loved and looked for, it must die with me.
    But the Lord has left me over for a servant of the Judgment,
              And I serve His Judgments here!

    _Guns in Flanders--Flanders guns!
    (I had a son that worked 'em once!)
    Shells for guns in Flanders, Flanders!
    Shells for guns in Flanders, Flanders!
              Shells for guns in Flanders! Feed the guns!_


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

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

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


    _The overfaithful sword returns the user
    His heart's desire at price of his heart's blood.
    The clamour of the arrogant accuser
    Wastes that one hour we needed to make good.
    This was foretold of old at our outgoing;
    This we accepted who have squandered, knowing,
    The strength and glory of our reputations,
    At the day's need, as it were dross, to guard
    The tender and new-dedicate foundations
    Against the sea we fear--not man's award._

        They that dig foundations deep,
          Fit for realms to rise upon,
        Little honour do they reap
          Of their generation,
        Any more than mountains gain
        Stature till we reach the plain.

        With no veil before their face
          Such as shroud or sceptre lend--
        Daily in the market-place,
          Of one height to foe and friend--
        They must cheapen self to find
        Ends uncheapened for mankind.

        Through the night when hirelings rest,
          Sleepless they arise, alone,
        The unsleeping arch to test
          And the o'er-trusted corner-stone,
        'Gainst the need, they know, that lies
        Hid behind the centuries.

        Not by lust of praise or show,
          Not by Peace herself betrayed--
        Peace herself must they forego
          Till that peace be fitly made;
        And in single strength uphold
        Wearier hands and hearts acold.

        On the stage their act hath framed
          For thy sports, O Liberty!
        Doubted are they, and defamed
          By the tongues their act set free,
        While they quicken, tend and raise
        Power that must their power displace.

        Lesser men feign greater goals,
          Failing whereof they may sit
        Scholarly to judge the souls
          That go down into the pit,
        And, despite its certain clay,
        Heave a new world towards the day.

        These at labour make no sign,
          More than planets, tides or years
        Which discover God's design,
          Not our hopes and not our fears;
        Nor in aught they gain or lose
        Seek a triumph or excuse.

    _For, so the Ark be borne to Zion, who
    Heeds how they perished or were paid that bore it?
    For, so the Shrine abide, what shame--what pride--
    If we, the priests, were bound or crowned before it?_


    Once, after long-drawn revel at The Mermaid,
    He to the overbearing Boanerges
    Jonson, uttered (If half of it were liquor,
                      Blessed be the vintage!)

    Saying how, at an alehouse under Cotswold,
    He had made sure of his very Cleopatra,
    Drunk with enormous, salvation-contemning
                      Love for a tinker.

    How, while he hid from Sir Thomas's keepers,
    Crouched in a ditch and drenched by the midnight
    Dews, he had listened to gipsy Juliet
                      Rail at the dawning.

    How at Bankside, a boy drowning kittens
    Winced at the business; whereupon his sister
    (Lady Macbeth aged seven) thrust 'em under,
                      Sombrely scornful.

    How on a Sabbath, hushed and compassionate--
    She being known since her birth to the townsfolk--
    Stratford dredged and delivered from Avon
                      Dripping Ophelia.

    So, with a thin third finger marrying
    Drop to wine-drop domed on the table,
    Shakespeare opened his heart till sunrise
                      Entered to hear him.

    London wakened and he, imperturbable,
    Passed from waking to hurry after shadows ...
    Busied upon shows of no earthly importance?
                      Yes, but he knew it!




'And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren; and they hated
him yet the more.'--_Genesis_ XXXVII. 5.

    Oh ye who hold the written clue
      To all save all unwritten things,
    And, half a league behind, pursue
      The accomplished Fact with flouts and flings,
      Look! To your knee your baby brings
        The oldest tale since Earth began--
      The answer to your worryings
        _'Once on a time there was a Man.'_

    He, single-handed, met and slew
      Magicians, Armies, Ogres, Kings.
    He lonely 'mid his doubting crew--
      'In all the loneliness of wings'--
      He fed the flame, he filled the springs,
        He locked the ranks, he launched the van
      Straight at the grinning Teeth of Things.
        _'Once on a time there was a Man.'_

    The peace of shocked Foundations flew
      Before his ribald questionings.
    He broke the Oracles in two,
      And bared the paltry wires and strings.
      He headed desert wanderings,
        He led his soul, his cause, his clan
      A little from the ruck of Things.
        _'Once on a time there was a Man.'_

    Thrones, Powers, Dominions block the view
      With episodes and underlings--
    The meek historian deems them true
      Nor heeds the song that Clio sings--
      The simple central truth that stings
        The mob to boo, the priest to ban;
      _Things never yet created things--
        'Once on a time there was a Man.'_

    A bolt is fallen from the blue.
      A wakened realm full circle swings
    Where Dothan's dreamer dreams anew
      Of vast and farborne harvestings;
      And unto him an Empire clings
        That grips the purpose of his plan.
      My Lords, how think you of these things?
        _Once--in our time--is there a Man?_


    _Ah! What avails the classic bent
      And what the cultured word,
    Against the undoctored incident
      That actually occurred?_

    _And what is Art whereto we press
      Through paint and prose and rhyme--
    When Nature in her nakedness
      Defeats us every time?_

    It is not learning, grace nor gear,
      Nor easy meat and drink,
    But bitter pinch of pain and fear
      That makes creation think.

    When in this world's unpleasing youth
      Our god-like race began,
    The longest arm, the sharpest tooth,
      Gave man control of man;

    Till, bruised and bitten to the bone
      And taught by pain and fear,
    He learned to deal the far-off stone,
      And poke the long, safe spear.

    So tooth and nail were obsolete
      As means against a foe,
    Till, bored by uniform defeat,
      Some genius built the bow.

    Then stone and javelin proved as vain
      As old-time tooth and nail,
    Ere, spurred anew by fear and pain,
      Man fashioned coats of mail.

    Then was there safety for the rich
      And danger for the poor,
    Till someone mixed a powder which
      Redressed the scale once more.

    Helmet and armour disappeared
      With sword and bow and pike,
    And, when the smoke of battle cleared,
      All men were armed alike....

    And when ten million such were slain
      To please one crazy king,
    Man, schooled in bulk by fear and pain,
      Grew weary of the thing;

    And, at the very hour designed,
      To enslave him past recall,
    His tooth-stone-arrow-gun-shy mind
      Turned and abolished all.

       *       *       *       *       *

    _All Power, each Tyrant, every Mob
      Whose head has grown too large,
    Ends by destroying its own job
      And earns its own discharge._

    _And Man, whose mere necessities
      Move all things from his path,
    Trembles meanwhile at their decrees,
      And deprecates their wrath!_




    _Who in the Realm to-day lays down dear life for the sake of a land
        more dear?
      And, unconcerned for his own estate, toils till the last grudged
        sands have run?
          Let him approach. It is proven here
      Our King asks nothing of any man more than Our King himself has

    For to him above all was Life good, above all he commanded
              Her abundance full-handed.
    The peculiar treasure of Kings was his for the taking:
    All that men come to in dreams he inherited waking:--

    His marvel of world-gathered armies--one heart and all races,
    His seas 'neath his keels when his war-castles foamed to their
    The thundering foreshores that answered his heralded landing;
    The huge lighted cities adoring, the assemblies upstanding;
    The Councils of Kings called in haste to learn how he was minded--
    The Kingdoms, the Powers, and the Glories he dealt with unblinded.

    To him came all captains of men, all achievers of glory,
    Hot from the press of their battles they told him their story.
    They revealed him their life in an hour and, saluting, departed,
    Joyful to labour afresh--he had made them new-hearted.
    And, since he weighed men from his youth, and no lie long deceived
    He spoke and exacted the truth, and the basest believed him.

    And God poured him an exquisite wine, that was daily renewed to him,
    In the clear-welling love of his peoples that daily accrued to him.
    Honour and service we gave him, rejoicingly fearless;
    Faith absolute, trust beyond speech and a friendship as peerless.
    And since he was Master and Servant in all that we asked him,
    We leaned hard on his wisdom in all things, knowing not how we
        tasked him.

    For on Him each new day laid command, every tyrannous hour,
    To confront, or confirm, or make smooth some dread issue of power;
    To deliver true judgment aright at the instant, unaided,
    In the strict, level, ultimate phrase that allowed or dissuaded;
    To foresee, to allay, to avert from us perils unnumbered,
    To stand guard on our gates when he guessed that the watchmen had
    To win time, to turn hate, to woo folly to service and, mightily
    His strength to the use of his Nations, to rule as not ruling.
    These were the works of our King; Earth's peace was the proof of
    God gave him great works to fulfil, and to us the behoof of them.
    We accepted his toil as our right--none spared, none excused him.
    When he was bowed by his burden his rest was refused him.
    We troubled his age with our weakness--the blacker our shame to us!
    Hearing his People had need of him, straightway he came to us.

    As he received so he gave--nothing grudged, naught denying,
    Not even the last gasp of his breath when he strove for us, dying
    For our sakes, without question, he put from him all that he
    Simply as any that serve him he served and he perished.
    All that Kings covet was his, and he flung it aside for us.
    Simply as any that die in his service he died for us.

    _Who in the Realm to-day has choice of the easy road or the hard to
      And, much concerned for his own estate, would sell his soul to
        remain in the sun?
              Let him depart nor look on Our dead.
      Our King asks nothing of any man more than Our King himself has


    'This is the State above the Law.
      The State exists for the State alone.'
    [_This is a gland at the back of the jaw,_
      _And an answering lump by the collar-bone._]

    Some die shouting in gas or fire;
      Some die silent, by shell and shot.
    Some die desperate, caught on the wire;
      Some die suddenly. This will not.

    'Regis suprema Voluntas lex.'
      [_It will follow the regular course of--throats._]
    Some die pinned by the broken decks,
      Some die sobbing between the boats.

    Some die eloquent, pressed to death
      By the sliding trench, as their friends can hear.
    Some die wholly in half a breath
      Some--give trouble for half a year.

    'There is neither Evil nor Good in life
      Except as the needs of the State ordain.'
    [_Since it is rather too late for the knife,
      All we can do is to mask the pain._]

    Some die saintly in faith and hope--
      One died thus in a prison-yard--
    Some die broken by rape or the rope;
      Some die easily. This dies hard.

    'I will dash to pieces who bar my way.
      Woe to the traitor! Woe to the weak!'
    [_Let him write what he wishes to say.
      It tires him out if he tries to speak._]

    Some die quietly. Some abound
      In loud self-pity. Others spread
    Bad morale through the cots around ...
      This is a type that is better dead.

    'The war was forced on me by my foes.
      All that I sought was the right to live.'
    [_Don't be afraid of a triple dose;
      The pain will neutralize half we give._

    _Here are the needles. See that he dies
      While the effects of the drug endure....
    What is the question he asks with his eyes?--
      Yes, All-Highest, to God, be sure._]


    'Whence comest thou, Gehazi,
      So reverend to behold,
    In scarlet and in ermines
      And chain of England's gold?'
    'From following after Naaman
      To tell him all is well,
    Whereby my zeal hath made me
      A Judge in Israel.'

    Well done, well done, Gehazi,
      Stretch forth thy ready hand,
    Thou barely 'scaped from judgment,
      Take oath to judge the land,
    Unswayed by gift of money
      Or privy bribe, more base,
    Of knowledge which is profit
      In any market-place.

    Search out and probe, Gehazi,
      As thou of all canst try,
    The truthful, well-weighed answer
      That tells the blacker lie--
    The loud, uneasy virtue,
      The anger feigned at will,
    To overbear a witness
      And make the Court keep still.

    Take order now, Gehazi,
      That no man talk aside
    In secret with his judges
      The while his case is tried.
    Lest he should show them--reason
      To keep a matter hid,
    And subtly lead the questions
      Away from what he did.

    Thou mirror of uprightness,
      What ails thee at thy vows?
    What means the risen whiteness
      Of the skin between thy brows?
    The boils that shine and burrow,
      The sores that slough and bleed--
    The leprosy of Naaman
      On thee and all thy seed?
        Stand up, stand up, Gehazi,
          Draw close thy robe and go,
        Gehazi, Judge in Israel,
          A leper white as snow!


    Try as he will, no man breaks wholly loose
    From his first love, no matter who she be.
    Oh, was there ever sailor free to choose,
    That didn't settle somewhere near the sea?

    Myself, it don't excite me nor amuse
    To watch a pack o' shipping on the sea,
    But I can understand my neighbour's views
    From certain things which have occurred to me.

    Men must keep touch with things they used to use
    To earn their living, even when they are free;
    And so come back upon the least excuse--
    Same as the sailor settled near the sea.

    He knows he's never going on no cruise--
    He knows he's done and finished with the sea,
    And yet he likes to feel she's there to use--
    If he should ask her--as she used to be.

    Even though she cost him all he had to lose,
    Even though she made him sick to hear or see,
    Still, what she left of him will mostly choose
    Her skirts to sit by. How comes such to be?

    _Parsons in pulpits, tax-payers in pews,
    Kings on your thrones, you know as well as me,
    We've only one virginity to lose,
    And where we lost it there our hearts will be!_


    I do not look for holy saints to guide me on my way,
    Or male and female devilkins to lead my feet astray.
    If these are added, I rejoice--if not, I shall not mind,
    So long as I have leave and choice to meet my fellow-kind.
      For as we come and as we go (and deadly-soon go we!)
      The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

    Thus I will honour pious men whose virtue shines so bright
    (Though none are more amazed than I when I by chance do right),
    And I will pity foolish men for woe their sins have bred
    (Though ninety-nine per cent. of mine I brought on my own head)
      And, Amorite or Eremite, or General Averagee,
      The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

    And when they bore me overmuch, I will not shake mine ears,
    Recalling many thousand such whom I have bored to tears.
    And when they labour to impress, I will not doubt nor scoff;
    Since I myself have done no less and--sometimes pulled it off.
      Yea, as we are and we are not, and we pretend to be,
      The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

    And when they work me random wrong, as often-times hath been,
    I will not cherish hate too long (my hands are none too clean)
    And when they do me random good I will not feign surprise,
    No more than those whom I have cheered with wayside charities.
      But, as we give and as we take--whate'er our takings be--
      The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

    But when I meet with frantic folk who sinfully declare
    There is no pardon for their sin, the same I will not spare
    Till I have proved that Heaven and Hell which in our hearts we have
    Show nothing irredeemable on either side the grave.
      For as we live and as we die--if utter Death there be--
      The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

    Deliver me from every pride--the Middle, High, and Low--
    That bars me from a brother's side, whatever pride he show.
    And purge me from all heresies of thought and speech and pen
    That bid me judge him otherwise than I am judged. _Amen!_
      That I may sing of Crowd or King or road-borne company,
      That I may labour in my day, vocation and degree,
      To prove the same in deed and name, and hold unshakenly
      (Where'er I go, whate'er I know, whoe'er my neighbour be)
      This single faith in Life and Death and all Eternity
      'The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!'


For before Eve was Lilith--_Old Tale._

    These were never your true love's eyes.
      Why do you feign that you love them?
    You that broke from their constancies,
      And the wide calm brows above them!

    This was never your true love's speech.
      Why do you thrill when you hear it?
    You that have ridden out of its reach
      The width of the world or near it!

    This was never your true love's hair,--
      You that chafed when it bound you
    Screened from knowledge or shame or care,
      In the night that it made around you!

    '_All these things I know, I know._
      _And that's why my heart is breaking!_'
    Then what do you gain by pretending so?
      '_The joy of an old wound waking._'



    I ate my fill of a whale that died,
      And stranded after a month at sea....
    There is a pain in my inside.
      Why have the Gods afflicted me?
    Ow! I am purged till I am a wraith!
      Wow! I am sick till I cannot see!
    What is the sense of Religion and Faith?
      Look how the Gods have afflicted me!


    How can the skin of rat or mouse hold
      Anything more than a harmless flea?...
    The burning plague has taken my household.
      Why have my Gods afflicted me?

    All my kith and kin are deceased,
      Though they were as good as good could be.
    I will out and batter the family priest,
      Because my Gods have afflicted me.


    My privy and well drain into each other
      After the custom of Christendie....
    Fevers and fluxes are wasting my mother.
      Why has the Lord afflicted me?
    The Saints are helpless for all I offer--
      So are the clergy I used to fee
    Henceforward I keep my cash in my coffer,
      Because the Lord has afflicted me.


    I run eight hundred hens to the acre.
      They die by dozens mysteriously....
    I am more than doubtful concerning my Maker.
      Why has the Lord afflicted me?
    What a return for all my endeavour--
      Not to mention the L. S. D.!
    I am an atheist now and for ever,
      Because this God has afflicted me!


    Money spent on an Army or Fleet
      Is homicidal lunacy....
    My son has been killed in the Mons retreat.
      Why is the Lord afflicting me?
    Why are murder, pillage and arson
      And rape allowed by the Deity?
    I will write to the _Times_, deriding our parson
      Because my God has afflicted me.


    We had a kettle, we let it leak;
      Our not repairing it made it worse.
    We haven't had any tea for a week....
      The bottom is out of the Universe!


    This was none of the good Lord's pleasure,
      For the Spirit He breathed in Man is free;
    But what comes after is measure for measure
      And not a God that afflicteth thee.
    As was the sowing so the reaping
      Is now and evermore shall be.
    Thou art delivered to thy own keeping.
      Only Thyself hath afflicted thee!


'_Ille autem iterum negavit._'

    The first time that Peter deniéd his Lord
    He shrank from the cudgel, the scourge and the cord,
    But followed far off to see what they would do,
    Till the cock crew--till the cock crew--
    After Gethsemane, till the cock crew!

    The first time that Peter deniéd his Lord
    'Twas only a maid in the palace who heard,
    As he sat by the fire and warmed himself through.
    Then the cock crew! Then the cock crew!
    ('Thou also art one of them.') Then the cock crew!

    The first time that Peter deniéd his Lord
    He had neither the Throne, nor the Keys nor the Sword--
    A poor silly fisherman, what could he do
    When the cock crew--when the cock crew--
    But weep for his wickedness when the cock crew?

       *       *       *       *       *

    The next time that Peter deniéd his Lord
    He was Fisher of Men, as foretold by the Word,
    With the Crown on his brow and the Cross on his shoe,
    When the cock crew--when the cock crew--
    _In Flanders and Picardy when the cock crew_.

    The next time that Peter deniéd his Lord
    'Twas Mary the Mother in Heaven Who heard,
    And She grieved for the maidens and wives that they slew
    When the cock crew--when the cock crew--
    _At Tirmonde and Aerschott when the cock crew_.

    The next time that Peter deniéd his Lord
    The Babe in the Manger awakened and stirred,
    And He stretched out His arms for the playmates He knew--
    When the cock crew--when the cock crew--
    _But the waters had covered them when the cock crew_.

    The next time that Peter deniéd his Lord
    'Twas Earth in her agony waited his word,
    But he sat by the fire and naught would he do,
    Though the cock crew--though the cock crew--
    _Over all Christendom, though the cock crew_.

    The last time that Peter deniéd his Lord,
    The Father took from him the Keys and the Sword,
    And the Mother and Babe brake his Kingdom in two,
    When the cock crew--when the cock crew--
    (_Because of his wickedness_) _when the cock crew_!



    When the Himalayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride,
    He shouts to scare the monster, who will often turn aside.
    But the she-bear thus accosted rends the peasant tooth and nail
    For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

    When Nag the basking cobra hears the careless foot of man,
    He will sometimes wriggle sideways and avoid it as he can.
    But his mate makes no such motion where she camps beside the trail.
    For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

    When the early Jesuit fathers preached to Hurons and Choctaws,
    They prayed to be delivered from the vengeance of the squaws.
    'Twas the women, not the warriors, turned those stark enthusiasts
    For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

    Man's timid heart is bursting with the things he must not say,
    For the Woman that God gave him isn't his to give away;
    But when hunter meets with husband, each confirms the other's tale--
    The female of the species is more deadly than the male.

    Man, a bear in most relations--worm and savage otherwise,--
    Man propounds negotiations, Man accepts the compromise.
    Very rarely will he squarely push the logic of a fact
    To its ultimate conclusion in unmitigated act.

    Fear, or foolishness, impels him, ere he lay the wicked low,
    To concede some form of trial even to his fiercest foe.
    Mirth obscene diverts his anger! Doubt and Pity oft perplex
    Him in dealing with an issue--to the scandal of The Sex!

    But the Woman that God gave him, every fibre of her frame
    Proves her launched for one sole issue, armed and engined for the
    And to serve that single issue, lest the generations fail,
    The female of the species must be deadlier than the male.

    She who faces Death by torture for each life beneath her breast
    May not deal in doubt or pity--must not swerve for fact or jest.
    These be purely male diversions--not in these her honour dwells.
    She the Other Law we live by, is that Law and nothing else.

    She can bring no more to living than the powers that make her great
    As the Mother of the Infant and the Mistress of the Mate!
    And when Babe and Man are lacking and she strides unclaimed to claim
    Her right as femme (and baron), her equipment is the same.

    She is wedded to convictions--in default of grosser ties;
    Her contentions are her children, Heaven help him who denies!--
    He will meet no suave discussion, but the instant, white-hot, wild,
    Wakened female of the species warring as for spouse and child.

    Unprovoked and awful charges--even so the she-bear fights,
    Speech that drips, corrodes, and poisons--even so the cobra bites,
    Scientific vivisection of one nerve till it is raw
    And the victim writhes in anguish--like the Jesuit with the squaw!

    So it comes that Man the coward, when he gathers to confer
    With his fellow-braves in council, dare not leave a place for her
    Where, at war with Life and Conscience, he uplifts his erring hands
    To some God of Abstract Justice--which no woman understands.

    And Man knows it! Knows, moreover, that the Woman that God gave him
    Must command but may not govern--shall enthral but not enslave him.
    And _She_ knows, because She warns him and Her instincts never fail,
    That the Female of Her Species is more deadly than the Male.



    _A._ 'I was a "have."' _B._ 'I was a "have-not."'
    (_Together_) 'What hast thou given which I gave not?'


    We were together since the War began
    He was my servant--and the better man.


    My son was killed while laughing at some jest. I would I knew
    What it was, and it might serve me in a time when jests are few.


    I have slain none except my Mother, She
    (Blessing her slayer) died of grief for me.


    Pity not! The Army gave
    Freedom to a timid slave:
    In which Freedom did he find
    Strength of body, will, and mind:
    By which strength he came to prove
    Mirth, Companionship, and Love:
    For which Love to Death he went:
    In which Death he lies content.


    Body and Spirit I surrendered whole
    To harsh Instructors--and received a soul ...
    If mortal man could change me through and through
    From all I was--what may The God not do?


    This man in his own country prayed we know not to what Powers.
    We pray Them to reward him for his bravery in ours.


    I could not look on Death, which being known,
    Men led me to him, blindfold and alone.


    My name, my speech, my self I had forgot.
    My wife and children came--I knew them not.
    I died. My Mother followed. At her call
    And on her bosom I remembered all.


    Gods of the Nile, should this stout fellow here
    Get out--get out! He knows not shame nor fear.



    The blown sand heaps on me, that none may learn
      Where I am laid for whom my children grieve....
    O wings that beat at dawning, ye return
      Out of the desert to your young at eve!


    Death favoured me from the first, well knowing I could not endure
    To wait on him day by day. He quitted my betters and came
    Whistling over the fields, and, when he had made all sure,
      'Thy line is at end,' he said, 'but at least I have saved its


    On the first hour of my first day
      In the front trench I fell.
    (Children in boxes at a play
      Stand up to watch it well.)


    Laughing through clouds, his milk-teeth still unshed,
    Cities and men he smote from overhead.
    His deaths delivered, he returned to play
    Childlike, with childish things now put away.


    I was of delicate mind. I went aside for my needs,
      Disdaining the common office. I was seen from afar and killed....
    How is this matter for mirth? Let each man be judged by his deeds
      _I have paid my price to live with myself on the terms that I


    Prometheus brought down fire to men.
      This brought up water.
    The Gods are jealous--now, as then,
      They gave no quarter.


    On land and sea I strove with anxious care
    To escape conscription. It was in the air!


    Faithless the watch that I kept: now I have none to keep.
    I was slain because I slept: now I am slain I sleep.
    Let no man reproach me again, whatever watch is unkept--
    I sleep because I am slain. They slew me because I slept.


    If any mourn us in the workshop, say
    We died because the shift kept holiday.


    If any question why we died,
    Tell them, because our fathers lied.


    I could not dig; I dared not rob:
    Therefore I lied to please the mob.
    Now all my lies are proved untrue,
    And I must face the men I slew.
    What tale shall save me here among
    Mine angry and defrauded young?


    If I had clamoured at Thy Gate
      For gift of Life on Earth,
    And, thrusting through the souls that wait,
      Flung headlong into birth--
    Even then, even then, for gin and snare
      About my pathway spread,
    Lord, I had mocked Thy thoughtful care
      Before I joined the Dead!
    But now?... I was beneath Thy Hand
      Ere yet the Planets came.
    And now--though Planets pass, I stand
      The witness to Thy Shame.


    Daily, though no ears attended,
      Did my prayers arise
    Daily, though no fire descended
      Did I sacrifice....
    Though my darkness did not lift,
      Though I faced no lighter odds,
    Though the Gods bestowed no gift,
                    None the less,
      None the less, I served the Gods!


    He from the wind-bitten north with ship and companions descended,
      Searching for eggs of death spawned by invisible hulls.
    Many he found and drew forth. Of a sudden the fishery ended
      In flame and a clamorous breath not new to the eye-pecking gulls.


    For Fog and Fate no charm is found
      To lighten or amend.
    I, hurrying to my bride, was drowned--
      Cut down by my best friend.


    I was a shepherd to fools
      Causelessly bold or afraid.
    They would not abide by my rules.
      Yet they escaped. For I stayed.


    Headless, lacking foot and hand,
    Horrible I come to land.
    I beseech all women's sons
    Know I was a mother once.


    One used and butchered me: another spied
    Me broken--for which thing a hundred died.
    So it was learned among the heathen hosts
    How much a freeborn woman's favour costs.


    I have watched a thousand days
    Push out and crawl into night
    Slowly as tortoises
    Now I, too, follow these.
    It is fever, and not fight--
    Time, not battle--that slays.


    Call me not false, beloved,
      If, from thy scarce-known breast
    So little time removed,
      In other arms I rest.

    For this more ancient bride
      Whom coldly I embrace
    Was constant at my side
      Before I saw thy face.

    Our marriage, often set--
      By miracle delayed--
    At last is consummate,
      And cannot be unmade.

    Live, then, whom Life shall cure,
      Almost, of Memory,
    And leave us to endure
      Its immortality.


    Ah, would swift ships had never been, for then we ne'er had found,
    These harsh Ægean rocks between, this little virgin drowned,
    Whom neither spouse nor child shall mourn, but men she nursed
        through pain
    And--certain keels for whose return the heathen look in vain.



     Here was a people whom after their works thou shalt see wept over
     for their lost dominion: and in this palace is the last information
     respecting lords collected in the dust.

     _The Arabian Nights_

    _In a land that the sand overlays--the ways to her gates are
    A multitude ended their days whose fates were made splendid by God,
    Till they grew drunk and were smitten with madness and went to their
    And of these is a story written: but Allah alone knoweth all!_

    When the wine stirred in their heart their bosoms dilated,
    They rose to suppose themselves kings over all things created--
    To decree a new earth at a birth without labour or sorrow--
    To declare: 'We prepare it to-day and inherit to-morrow.'
    They chose themselves prophets and priests of minute understanding,
    Men swift to see done, and outrun, their extremest commanding--
    Of the tribe which describe with a jibe the perversions of Justice--
    Panders avowed to the crowd whatsoever its lust is.

    Swiftly these pulled down the walls that their fathers had made
    The impregnable ramparts of old, they razed and relaid them
    As playgrounds of pleasure and leisure with limitless entries,
    And havens of rest for the wastrels where once walked the sentries;
    And because there was need of more pay for the shouters and
    They disbanded in face of their foemen their bowmen and archers.
    They replied to their well-wishers' fears--to their enemies'
    Saying: 'Peace! We have fashioned a God Which shall save us
    We ascribe all dominion to man in his factions conferring,
    And have given to numbers the Name of the Wisdom unerring.'
    They said: 'Who has hate in his soul? Who has envied his neighbour?
    Let him arise and control both that man and his labour.'
    They said: 'Who is eaten by sloth? Whose unthrift has destroyed him?
    He shall levy a tribute from all because none have employed him.'
    They said: 'Who hath toiled? Who hath striven, and gathered
    Let him be spoiled. He hath given full proof of transgression.'
    They said. 'Who is irked by the Law? _Though we may not remove it,
    If he lend us his aid in this raid, we will set him above it!_'
    So the robber did judgment again upon such as displeased him,
    The slayer, too, boasted his slain, and the judges released him.

    As for their kinsmen far off, on the skirts of the nation,
    They harried all earth to make sure none escaped reprobation,
    They awakened unrest for a jest in their newly-won borders,
    And jeered at the blood of their brethren betrayed by their orders.
    They instructed the ruled to rebel, their rulers to aid them;
    And, since such as obeyed them not fell, their Viceroys obeyed them.
    When the riotous set them at naught they said: 'Praise the upheaval!
    For the show and the word and the thought of Dominion is evil!'

    They unwound and flung from them with rage, as a rag that defiled
    The imperial gains of the age which their forefathers piled them.
    They ran panting in haste to lay waste and embitter for ever
    The wellsprings of Wisdom and Strength which are Faith and
    They nosed out and digged up and dragged forth and exposed to
    All doctrine of purpose and worth and restraint and prevision:
    And it ceased, and God granted them all things for which they had
    And the heart of a beast in the place of a man's heart was given....

       *       *       *       *       *

    When they were fullest of wine and most flagrant in error,
    Out of the sea rose a sign--out of Heaven a terror.
    Then they saw, then they heard, then they knew--for none troubled
        to hide it,
    An host had prepared their destruction, but still they denied it.
    They denied what they dared not abide if it came to the trial,
    But the Sword that was forged while they lied did not heed their
    It drove home, and no time was allowed to the crowd that was driven.
    The preposterous-minded were cowed--they thought time would be
    There was no need of a steed nor a lance to pursue them;
    It was decreed their own deed, and not chance, should undo them
    The tares they had laughingly sown were ripe to the reaping,
    The trust they had leagued to disown was removed from their keeping.
    The eaters of other men's bread, the exempted from hardship,
    The excusers of impotence fled, abdicating their wardship.
    For the hate they had taught through the State brought the State no
    And it passed from the roll of the Nations in headlong surrender.



    _Across a world where all men grieve
      And grieving strive the more,
    The great days range like tides and leave
      Our dead on every shore.
    Heavy the load we undergo,
      And our own hands prepare,
    If we have parley with the foe,
      The load our sons must bear._

    Before we loose the word
      That bids new worlds to birth,
    Needs must we loosen first the sword
      Of Justice upon earth;
    Or else all else is vain
      Since life on earth began,
    And the spent world sinks back again
      Hopeless of God and Man.

    A people and their King
      Through ancient sin grown strong,
    Because they feared no reckoning
      Would set no bound to wrong;
    But now their hour is past,
      And we who bore it find
    Evil Incarnate held at last
      To answer to mankind.

    For agony and spoil
      Of nations beat to dust,
    For poisoned air and tortured soil
      And cold, commanded lust,
    And every secret woe
      The shuddering waters saw--
    Willed and fulfilled by high and low--
      Let them relearn the Law.

    That when the dooms are read,
      Not high nor low shall say:--
    'My haughty or my humble head
      Has saved me in this day.'
    That, till the end of time,
      Their remnant shall recall
    Their fathers' old, confederate crime
      Availed them not at all.

    That neither schools nor priests,
      Nor Kings may build again
    A people with the heart of beasts
      Made wise concerning men.
    Whereby our dead shall sleep
      In honour, unbetrayed,
    And we in faith and honour keep
      That peace for which they paid.

Printed by T and A CONSTABLE, Printers to His Majesty at the Edinburgh
University Press

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Years Between" ***

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