When the Great Ark, in Vigo Bay, Rode stately through the half-manned fleet, From every ship about her way She heard the mariners entreat Before we take the seas again Let down your boats and send us men! "We have no lack of victual here With work God knows! enough for all, To hand and reef and watch and steer, Because our present strength is small. While your three decks are crowded so Your crews can scarcely stand or go. "In war, your numbers do but raise Confusion and divided will; In storm, the mindless deep obeys Not multitudes but single skills. In calm, your numbers, closely pressed, Must breed a mutiny or pest. "We even on unchallenged seas, Dare not adventure where we would, But forfeit brave advantages For lack of men to make 'em good; Whereby, to England's double cost, Honour and profit both are lost!"
Return to the Rudyard Kipling library , or . . . Read the next poem; When The Journey Was Intended To The City