A Departure

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A Departure
written by Rudyard Kipling
First published in Land and Sea Tales for Scouts and Guides (1923), accompanying the story The Parable of Boy Jones. Link to further information

Since first the White Horse Banner blew free,
       By Hengist's horde unfurled,
Nothing has changed on land or sea
       Of the things that steer the world.
(As it was when the long-ships scudded through the gale
       So it is where the Liners go.)
Time and Tide, they are both in a tale —
       "Woe to the weaker — woe!"

No charm can bridle the hard-mouthed wind
       Or smooth the fretting swell.
No gift can alter the grey Sea's mind,
       But she serves the strong man well.
(As it is when her uttermost deeps are stirred
       So it is where the quicksands show,)
All the waters have but one word —
       "Woe to the weaker — woe!"

The feast is ended, the tales are told,
       The dawn is overdue,
And we meet on the quay in the whistling cold
       Where the galley waits her crew.
Out with the torches, they have flared too long,
       And bid the harpers go.
Wind and warfare have but one song —
       "Woe to the weaker — woe!"

Hail to the great oars gathering way,
       As the beach begins to slide!
Hail to the war-shields' click and play
       As they lift along our side!
Hail to the first wave over the bow —
       Slow for the sea-stroke! Slow! —
All the benches are grunting now: —
       "Woe to the weaker — woe!"

SemiPD-icon.png This work is in the public domain in countries where the copyright term is the author's life plus 70 years or less.