The Winners


What the moral? Who rides may read.
When the night is thick and the tracks are blind
A friend at a pinch is a friend, indeed,
But a fool to wait for the laggard behind.
Down to Gehenna or up to the Throne,
He travels the fastest who travels alone.

White hands cling to the tightened rein,
Slipping the spur from the booted heel,
Tenderest voices cry "Turn again!"
Red lips tarnish the scabbarded steel,
High hopes faint on a warm hearth-stone,
He travels the fastest who travels alone.

One may fall but he falls by himself,
Falls by himself with himself to blame.
One may attain and to him is pelf,
Loot of the city in Gold or Fame.
Plunder of earth shall be all his own
Who travels the fastest and travels alone.

Wherefore the more ye be helpen and stayed,
Stayed by a friend in the hour of toil,
Sing the heretical song I have made,
His be the labour and yours be the spoil.
Win by his aid and the aid disown,
He travels the fastest who travels alone!


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Return to the Rudyard Kipling Home Page, or . . . Read the next poem; The Wishing-Caps

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.