Verse > Rudyard Kipling > Verse: 1885–1918
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Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).  Verse: 1885–1918.  1922.
 
The Fires
 
(Prelude to Collected Verse)

MEN make them fires on the hearth
  Each under his roof-tree,
And the Four Winds that rule the earth
  They blow the smoke to me.
 
Across the high hills and the sea        5
  And all the changeful skies,
The Four Winds blow the smoke to me
  Till the tears are in my eyes.
 
Until the tears are in my eyes
  And my heart is wellnigh broke        10
For thinking on old memories
  That gather in the smoke.
 
With every shift of every wind
  The homesick memories come,
From every quarter of mankind        15
  Where I have made me a home.
 
Four times a fire against the cold
  And a roof against the rain
Sorrow fourfold and joy fourfold
  The Four Winds bring again!        20
 
How can I answer which is best
  Of all the fires that burn?
I have been too often host or guest
  At every fire in turn.
 
How can I turn from any fire,        25
  On any man’s hearthstone?
I know the wonder and desire
  That went to build my own!
 
How can I doubt man’s joy or woe
  Where’er his house-fires shine,        30
Since all that man must undergo
  Will visit me at mine?
 
Oh, you Four Winds that blow so strong
  And know that this is true,
Stoop for a little and carry my song        35
  To all the men I knew!
 
Where there are fires against the cold,
  Or roofs against the rain
With love fourfold and joy fourfold,
  Take them my songs again!        40
 
 
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