Verse > Rudyard Kipling > Verse: 1885–1918
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Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).  Verse: 1885–1918.  1922.
 
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 roofbeam,
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,        5
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.        10
 
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        15
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.        20
’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,        25
And a grey bitch-wolf came out of the dark and fawned on the Only Son!
 
 
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