Verse > Rudyard Kipling > Verse: 1885–1918
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Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).  Verse: 1885–1918.  1922.
 
To the True Romance
 
1893

THY face is far from this our war,
  Our call and counter-cry,
I shall not find Thee quick and kind,
  Nor know Thee till I die.
Enough for me in dreams to see        5
  And touch Thy garments’ hem:
Thy feet have trod so near to God
  I may not follow them!
 
Through wantonness if men profess
  They weary of Thy parts,        10
E’en let them die at blasphemy
  And perish with their arts;
But we that love, but we that prove
  Thine excellence august,
While we adore, discover more        15
  Thee perfect, wise, and just.
 
Since spoken word Man’s Spirit stirred
  Beyond his belly-need,
What is is Thine of fair design
  In Thought and Craft and Deed.        20
Each stroke aright of toil and fight,
  That was and that shall be,
And hope too high wherefore we die,
  Has birth and worth in Thee.
 
Who holds by Thee hath Heaven in fee        25
  To gild his dross thereby,
And knowledge sure that he endure
  A child until he die—
For to make plain that man’s disdain
  Is but new Beauty’s birth—        30
For to possess in singleness
  The joy of all the earth.
 
As Thou didst teach all lovers speech
  And Life all mystery,
So shalt Thou rule by every school        35
  Till life and longing die,
Who wast or yet the Lights were set,
  A whisper in the Void,
Who shalt be sung through planets young
  When this is clean destroyed.        40
 
Beyond the bounds our staring rounds,
  Across the pressing dark,
The children wise of outer skies
  Look hitherward and mark
A light that shifts, a glare that drifts,        45
  Rekindling thus and thus,
Not all forlorn, for Thou hast borne
  Strange tales to them of us.
 
Time hath no tide but must abide
  The servant of Thy will;        50
Tide hath no time, for to Thy rhyme
  The ranging stars stand still—
Regent of spheres that lock our fears
  Our hopes invisible,
Oh ’t was certes at Thy decrees        55
  We fashioned Heaven and Hell!
 
Pure Wisdom hath no certain path
  That lacks thy morning-eyne,
And Captains bold by Thee controlled
  Most like to Gods design.        60
Thou art the Voice to kingly boys
  To lift them through the fight,
And Comfortress of Unsuccess,
  To give the Dead good-night.
 
A veil to draw ’twixt God His Law        65
  And Man’s infirmity,
A shadow kind to dumb and blind
  The shambles where we die;
A rule to trick th’ arithmetic,
  Too base, of leaguing odds—        70
The spur of trust, the curb of lust,
  Thou handmaid of the Gods!
 
O Charity, all patiently
  Abiding wrack and scaith!
O Faith, that meets ten thousand cheats        75
  Yet drops no jot of faith!
Devil and brute Thou dost transmute
  To higher, lordlier show,
Who art in sooth that lovely Truth
  The careless angels know!        80
 
Thy face is far from this our war,
  Our call and counter-cry,
I may not find Thee quick and kind,
  Nor know Thee till I die.
 
Yet may I look with heart unshook        85
  On blow brought home or missed
Yet may I hear with equal ear
  The clarions down the List;
Yet set my lance above mischance
  And ride the barriere        90
Oh, hit or miss, how little ’t is,
  My Lady is not there!
 
 
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