Poetry Corner – Hymn to Mithras

Mithras, God of the Morning, our trumpets waken the Wall!
'Rome is above the Nations, but Thou art over all!'
Now as the names are answered, and the guards are marched away,
Mithras, also a soldier, give us strength for the day!
	
Mithras, God of the Noontide, the heather swims in the heat,
Our helmets scorch our foreheads, our sandals burn our feet.
Now in the ungirt hour; now ere we blink and drowse,
Mithras, also a soldier, keep us true to our vows!
	
Mithras, God of the Sunset, low on the Western main,
Thou descending immortal, immortal to rise again!
Now when the watch is ended, now when the wine is drawn,
Mithras, also a soldier, keep us pure till the dawn!
	
Mithras, God of the Midnight, here where the great bull dies,
Look on Thy children in darkness. Oh, take our sacrifice!
Many roads Thou hast fashioned: all of them lead to the Light!
Mithras, also a soldier, teach us to die aright!

- Rudyard Kipling

Poetry Corner – 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, and 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 to-day—Love without promise or fee—
Hear, for thy children speak, from the uttermost parts of the sea!

- Rudyard Kipling

Poetry Corner – Song of Seven Cities

I WAS Lord of Cities very sumptuously builded.
Seven roaring Cities paid me tribute from afar.
Ivory their outposts were—the guardrooms of them gilded,
And garrisoned with Amazons invincible in war. 

	All the world went softly when it walked before my Cities—
Neither King nor Army vexed my peoples at their toil,
Never horse nor chariot irked or overbore my Cities,
Never Mob nor Ruler questioned whence they drew their spoil. 

	Banded, mailed and arrogant from sunrise unto sunset;
Singing while they sacked it, they possessed the land at large.
Yet when men would rob them, they resisted, they made onset
And pierced the smoke of battle with a thousand-sabred charge. 

	So they warred and trafficked only yesterday, my Cities.
To-day there is no mark or mound of where my Cities stood.
For the River rose at midnight and it washed away my Cities.
They are evened with Atlantis and the towns before the Flood. 

	Rain on rain-gorged channels raised the water-levels round them,
Freshet backed on freshet swelled and swept their world from sight,
Till the emboldened floods linked arms and, flashing forward, drowned them—
Drowned my Seven Cities and their peoples in one night! 

	Low among the alders lie their derelict foundations,
The beams wherein they trusted and the plinths whereon they built—
My rulers and their treasure and their unborn populations,
Dead, destroyed, aborted, and defiled with mud and silt! 

	The Daughters of the Palace whom they cherished in my Cities,
My silver-tongued Princesses, and the promise of their May—
Their bridegrooms of the June-tide—all have perished in my Cities,
With the harsh envenomed virgins that can neither love nor play. 

	I was Lord of Cities—I will build anew my Cities,
Seven, set on rocks, above the wrath of any flood.
Nor will I rest from search till I have filled anew my Cities
With peoples undefeated of the dark, enduring blood. 

	To the sound of trumpets shall their seed restore my Cities
Wealthy and well-weaponed, that once more may I behold
All the world go softly when it walks before my Cities,
And the horses and the chariots fleeing from them as of old!

- Rudyard Kipling

Poetry Corner – 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, and 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 to-day—Love without promise or fee—
Hear, for thy children speak, from the uttermost parts of the sea!

- Rudyard Kipling

Poetry Corner – The Outlaws

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.

- Rudyard Kipling

Poetry Corner – Harp-Song of the Dane Women

What is a woman that you forsake her,
And the hearth-fire and the home-acre,
To go with the old grey Widow-maker?

She has no house to lay a guest in—
But one chill bed for all to rest in,
That the pale suns and the stray bergs nest in.

She has no strong white arms to fold you,
But the ten-times-fingering weed to hold you—
Out on the rocks where the tide has rolled you.

Yet, when the signs of summer thicken,
And the ice breaks, and the birch-buds quicken,
Yearly you turn from our side, and sicken—

Sicken again for the shouts and the slaughters.
You steal away to the lapping waters,
And look at your ship in her winter-quarters.

You forget our mirth, and talk at the tables,
The kine in the shed and the horse in the stables—
To pitch her sides and go over her cables.

Then you drive out where the storm-clouds swallow,
And the sound of your oar-blades, falling hollow,
Is all we have left through the months to follow.

Ah, what is Woman that you forsake her,
And the hearth-fire and the home-acre,
To go with the old grey Widow-maker ?

- Rudyard Kipling

Poetry Corner – The Song of Seven Cities

 I WAS Lord of Cities very sumptuously builded.
 Seven roaring Cities paid me tribute from afar.
 Ivory their outposts were—the guardrooms of them gilded,
 And garrisoned with Amazons invincible in war. 

All the world went softly when it walked before my Cities—
 Neither King nor Army vexed my peoples at their toil,
 Never horse nor chariot irked or overbore my Cities,
 Never Mob nor Ruler questioned whence they drew their spoil. 

Banded, mailed and arrogant from sunrise unto sunset;
 Singing while they sacked it, they possessed the land at large.
 Yet when men would rob them, they resisted, they made onset
 And pierced the smoke of battle with a thousand-sabred charge. 

 So they warred and trafficked only yesterday, my Cities.
 To-day there is no mark or mound of where my Cities stood.
 For the River rose at midnight and it washed away my Cities.
 They are evened with Atlantis and the towns before the Flood. 

Rain on rain-gorged channels raised the water-levels round them,
 Freshet backed on freshet swelled and swept their world from sight,
 Till the emboldened floods linked arms and, flashing forward, drowned them—
 Drowned my Seven Cities and their peoples in one night! 

Low among the alders lie their derelict foundations,
 The beams wherein they trusted and the plinths whereon they built—
 My rulers and their treasure and their unborn populations,
 Dead, destroyed, aborted, and defiled with mud and silt! 

The Daughters of the Palace whom they cherished in my Cities,
 My silver-tongued Princesses, and the promise of their May—
 Their bridegrooms of the June-tide—all have perished in my Cities,
 With the harsh envenomed virgins that can neither love nor play. 

I was Lord of Cities—I will build anew my Cities,
 Seven, set on rocks, above the wrath of any flood.
 Nor will I rest from search till I have filled anew my Cities
 With peoples undefeated of the dark, enduring blood. 

To the sound of trumpets shall their seed restore my Cities
 Wealthy and well-weaponed, that once more may I behold
 All the world go softly when it walks before my Cities,
 And the horses and the chariots fleeing from them as of old! 
- Rudyard Kipling

Poetry Corner – White Horses

 Where run your colts at pasture?
   Where hide your mares to breed?
 'Mid bergs about the Ice-cap
   Or wove Sargasso weed;
 By chartless reef and channel,
   Or crafty coastwise bars,
 But most the ocean-meadows
   All purple to the stars!

 Who holds the rein upon you?
   The latest gale let free.
 What meat is in your mangers?
   The glut of all the sea.
 'Twixt tide and tide's returning
   Great store of newly dead, --
 The bones of those that faced us,
   And the hearts of those that fled.

 Afar, off-shore and single,
   Some stallion, rearing swift,
 Neighs hungry for new fodder,
   And calls us to the drift:
 Then down the cloven ridges --
   A million hooves unshod --
 Break forth the mad White Horses
   To seek their meat from God!
 
Girth-deep in hissing water
   Our furious vanguard strains --
 Through mist of mighty tramplings
   Roll up the fore-blown manes --
 A hundred leagues to leeward,
   Ere yet the deep is stirred,
 The groaning rollers carry
   The coming of the herd!

 Whose hand may grip your nostrils --
   Your forelock who may hold?
 E'en they that use the broads with us --
   The riders bred and bold,
 That spy upon our matings,
   That rope us where we run --
 They know the strong White Horses
   From father unto son.

 We breathe about their cradles,
   We race their babes ashore,
 We snuff against their thresholds,
   We nuzzle at their door;
 By day with stamping squadrons,
   By night in whinnying droves,
 Creep up the wise White Horses,
   To call them from their loves.
 
And come they for your calling?
   No wit of man may save.
 They hear the loosed White Horses
   Above their fathers' grave;
 And, kin of those we crippled,
   And, sons of those we slew,
 Spur down the wild white riders
   To school the herds anew.

 What service have ye paid them,
   Oh jealous steeds and strong?
 Save we that throw their weaklings,
   Is none dare work them wrong;
 While thick around the homestead
   Our snow-backed leaders graze --
 A guard behind their plunder,
   And a veil before their ways.

 With march and countermarchings --
   With weight of wheeling hosts --
 Stray mob or bands embattled --
   We ring the chosen coasts:
 And, careless of our clamour
   That bids the stranger fly,
 At peace with our pickets
   The wild white riders lie.

 Trust ye that curdled hollows --
   Trust ye the neighing wind --
 Trust ye the moaning groundswell --
   Our herds are close behind!
 To bray your foeman's armies --
   To chill and snap his sword --
 Trust ye the wild White Horses,
   The Horses of the Lord! 

- Rudyard Kipling

Poetry Corner – Ripple Song

Once red ripple came to land
   In the golden sunset burning--
 Lapped against a maiden's hand,
   By the ford returning.

Dainty foot and gentle breast--
 Here, across, be glad and rest.
 "Maiden, wait," the ripple saith;
 "Wait awhile, for I am Death!"

"Where my lover calls I go--
   Shame it were to treat him coldly--
 'Twas a fish that circled so,
   Turning over boldly."
   
Dainty foot and tender heart,
 Wait the loaded ferry-raft.
 "Wait, ah, wait!" the ripple saith;
"Maiden, wait, for I am Death!"

"When my lover calls I haste--
   Dame Disdain was never wedded!"
 Ripple-ripple round her waist,
   Clear the current eddied.

Foolish heart and faithful hand,
 Little feet that touched no land.
 Far away the ripple sped,
 Ripple-ripple running red! 

- Rudyard Kipling