This is the midnight-let no star Delude us-dawn is very far. This is the tempest long foretold, Slow to make head but sure to hold Stand by! The lull 'twixt blast and blast Signals the storm is near, not past; And worse than present jeopardy May our forlorn to-morrow be. If we have cleared the expectant reef, Let no man look for his relief. Only the darkness hides the shape Of further peril to escape. It is decreed that we abide The weight of gale against the tide And those huge waves the outer main Sends in to set us back again. They fall and whelm. We strain to hear The pulses of her labouring gear, Till the deep throb beneath us proves, After each shudder and check, she moves! She moves, with all save purpose lost, To make her offing from the coast; But, till she fetches open sea, Let no man deem that he is free!
Return to the Rudyard Kipling library , or . . . Read the next poem; The Story Of Ung