Poem Rudyard Kipling

The Scholars

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Some handreds of the young naval officers
whose education was interrupted by the War
are now to be sent to various colleges at Cambridge
to continue their studies. The experiment will be watched with great interest.” –

“Oh, show me how a rose can shut and be a bud again!”
Nay, watch my Lords of the Admiralty, for they have the work
         in train.
They have taken the men that were careless lads at Dartmouth in
And entered them at the landward schools as though no war had
They have piped the children off all the seas from the Falklands
         to the Bight,
And quartered them on the Colleges to learn to read and write!
Their books were rain and sleet and fog-the dry gale and the
Their teachers were the horned mines and the hump-backed
         Death below.
Their schools were walled by the walking mist and roofed by
         the waiting skies,
When they conned their task in a new-sown field with the
         Moonlight Sacrifice.
They were not rated too young to teach, nor reckoned unfit to
When they formed their class on Helles’ beach at the bows of the
         “River Clyde.”

Their eyes are sunk by endless watch, their faces roughed lay
Their feet are drawn by the wet sea-boots they changed not night
         or day
When they guarded the six-knot convoy’s flank on the road to
Their ears are stuffed with the week-long roar of the West-
         Atlantic gale
When the sloops were watching the Irish Shore from Galway
         to Kinsale.
Their hands are scored where the life-lines cut or the dripping

When they followed their leader at thirty knot between the
         Skaw and the Naze.
Their mouths are filled with the magic words they learned at
         collier’s hatch
When they coaled in the foul December dawns and sailed in
Or measured the weight of a Pentland tide and the wind off
Till the target mastered the breathless tug and the hawser carried

They know the price to be paid for a fault-for a gauge-clock
         wrongly read,
Or a picket-boat to the gangway brought bows-on and full-
Or the drowsy’s second’s lack of thought that costs a dozen dead.
They have touched a knowledge outreaching speech- as when
         the cutters were sent
To harvest the dreadful mile of beach after the Vanguard
They have learned great faith and little fear and a high heart in
And how to suffer each sodden year of heaped-up wearness.
They have borne the bridle upon their lips and the yoke upon
         their neck,
Since they went down to the sea in ships to save the world from
Since the chests were slung down the College stair at Dartmouth
         in ‘Fourteen,
And now they are quit of the sea-affair as though no war had
Far have they steamed and much have they known, and most
         would they fain forget;
But now they are come to their joyous own with all the world
         in their debt.
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
Soft-blow soft on them, little East Wind! Be smooth for them,
         mighty stream!
Though the cams they use are not of your kind, and they bump,
         for choice, by steam.
Lightly dance with them, Newnharn maid-but none too lightly
They are hot from the fifty-month blockade, and they carry
         their hearts on their sleeve.
Tenderly, Proctor, let them down, if they do not walk as they
For, by God, if they owe you half a crown, you owe ’em your
         four years’ food!

Hallowed River, most gracious Trees, Chapel beyond compare,
Here be gentlemen sick of the seas-take them into your care.
Far have they come, much have they braved. Give them their
         hour of play,
While the hidden things their hands have saved work for them
         day by day:
Till the grateful Past their youth redeemed return them their
         youth once more,
And the Soul of the Child at last lets fall the unjust load that it

A School Song


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