The Only Son


 She dropped the bar, she shot the bolt, she fed the fire anew
 For she heard a whimper under the sill and a great grey paw came through.
 The fresh flame comforted the hut and shone on the roof-beam,
 And the Only Son lay down again and dreamed that he dreamed a dream.
 The last ash fell from the withered log with the click of a falling spark,
 And the Only Son woke up again, and called across the dark:
 "Now was I born of womankind and laid in a mother's breast?
 For I have dreamed of a shaggy hide whereon I went to rest.
 And was I born of womankind and laid on a father's arm?
 For I have dreamed of clashing teeth that guarded me from harm.

 And was I born an Only Son and did I play alone?
 For I have dreamed of comrades twain that bit me to the bone.
 And did I break the barley-cake and steep it in the tyre?
 For I have dreamed of a youngling kid new-riven from the byre:
 For I have dreamed of a midnight sky and a midnight call to blood 
 And red-mouthed shadows racing by, that thrust me from my food.
 'Tis an hour yet and an hour yet to the rising of the moon,
 But I can see the black roof-tree as plain as it were noon.
 'Tis a league and a league to the Lena Falls where the trooping blackbuck go;
 But I can hear the little fawn that bleats behind the doe.

 'Tis a league and a league to the Lena Falls where the crop and the upland meet,
 But I Can smell the wet dawn-wind that wakes the sprouting wheat.
 Unbar the door. I may not bide, but I must out and see 
 If those are wolves that wait outside or my own kin to me!"
 . . . . . 
 She loosed the bar, she slid the bolt, she opened the door anon,
 And a grey bitch-wolf came out of the dark and fawned on the Only Son!


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Return to the Rudyard Kipling Home Page, or . . . Read the next poem; The Open Door (Brazilian Verses)

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