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The Song of the Sword and Other Verses   By: (1849-1903)

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THE SONG OF THE SWORD AND OTHER VERSES

BY

W. E. HENLEY

LONDON Published by DAVID NUTT in the Strand 1892

To R. T. Hamilton Bruce

Edinburgh , Mar. 17, 1892

With three exceptions , these numbers have appeared in ' The National Observer ,' by permission of whose proprietors they are here reprinted .

THE SONG OF THE SWORD (To Rudyard Kipling)

The Sword Singing The voice of the Sword from the heart of the Sword Clanging imperious Forth from Time's battlements His ancient and triumphing Song .

In the beginning, Ere God inspired Himself Into the clay thing Thumbed to His image, The vacant, the naked shell Soon to be Man: Thoughtful He pondered it, Prone there and impotent, Fragile, inviting Attack and discomfiture: Then, with a smile As He heard in the Thunder That laughed over Eden The voice of the Trumpet, The iron Beneficence, Calling His dooms To the Winds of the world Stooping, He drew On the sand with His finger A shape for a sign Of His way to the eyes That in wonder should waken, For a proof of His will To the breaking intelligence: That was the birth of me: I am the Sword.

Hard and bleak, keen and cruel, Short hilted, long shafted, I froze into steel: And the blood of my elder, His hand on the hafts of me, Sprang like a wave In the wind, as the sense Of his strength grew to ecstasy, Glowed like a coal At the throat of the furnace, As he knew me and named me The War Thing, the Comrade, Father of honour And giver of kingship, The fame smith, the song master, Bringer of women On fire at his hands For the pride of fulfilment, Priest (saith the Lord) Of his marriage with victory . Ho! then, the Trumpet, Handmaid of heroes, Calling the peers To the place of espousal! Ho! then, the splendour And sheen of my ministry, Clothing the earth With a livery of lightnings! Ho! then, the music Of battles in onset And ruining armours, And God's gift returning In fury to God! Glittering and keen As the song of the winter stars, Ho! then, the sound Of my voice, the implacable Angel of Destiny! I am the Sword.

Heroes, my children, Follow, O follow me, Follow, exulting In the great light that breaks From the sacred companionship: Thrust through the fatuous, Thrust through the fungous brood Spawned in my shadow And gross with my gift! Thrust through, and hearken, O hark, to the Trumpet, The Virgin of Battles, Calling, still calling you Into the Presence, Sons of the Judgment, Pure wafts of the Will! Edged to annihilate, Hilted with government, Follow, O follow me Till the waste places All the grey globe over Ooze, as the honeycomb Drips, with the sweetness Distilled of my strength: And, teeming in peace Through the wrath of my coming, They give back in beauty The dread and the anguish They had of me visitant! Follow, O follow, then, Heroes, my harvesters! Where the tall grain is ripe Thrust in your sickles: Stripped and adust In a stubble of empire, Scything and binding The full sheaves of sovranty: Thus, O thus gloriously, Shall you fulfil yourselves: Thus, O thus mightily, Show yourselves sons of mine Yea, and win grace of me: I am the Sword.

I am the feast maker: Hark, through a noise Of the screaming of eagles, Hark how the Trumpet, The mistress of mistresses, Calls, silver throated And stern, where the tables Are spread, and the work Of the Lord is in hand! Driving the darkness, Even as the banners And spears of the Morning; Sifting the nations, The slag from the metal, The waste and the weak From the fit and the strong; Fighting the brute, The abysmal Fecundity; Checking the gross, Multitudinous blunders, The groping, the purblind Excesses in service, Of the Womb universal, The absolute Drudge; Changing the charactry Carved on the World, The miraculous gem In the seal ring that burns On the hand of the Master Yea! and authority Flames through the dim, Unappeasable Grisliness Prone down the nethermost Chasms of the Void; Clear singing, clean slicing; Sweet spoken, soft finishing; Making death beautiful, Life but a coin To be staked in the pastime Whose playing is more Than the transfer of being; Arch anarch, chief builder, Prince and evangelist, I am the Will of God: I am the Sword... Continue reading book >>




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