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HE strength of twice three thousand horse
The line that holds the rending course,
The stripped hulls, slinking through the gloom,
The Brides of Death that wait the groom-
Off-shore where sea and skyline blend
The sullen, shouldering swells attend
Adown the stricken capes no flare-
The blindfold game of war.
Nearer the up-flung beams that spell
Clearer the barking guns that tell
Their scattered flank to close.
Sheer to the trap they crowd their way
On shoal with scarce a foot below,
Hidden and hushed we watch them throw
Not here, not here your danger lies-
Therefore-to break the rest ye seek,
What midnight terror stays
The bulk that checks against the spray
Hit, and hard hit! The blow went home, The muffled, knocking stroke
The steam that overruns the foam
The foam that thins to smoke
The smoke that clokes the deep aboil-
Till, streaked with ash and sleeked with oil,
A shadow down the sickened wave
But hear their chattering quick-fires rave
Panic that shells the drifting spar-
Now, while their silly smoke hangs thick,
Lay in and lance them to the quick-
Good luck to those that see the end,
Good-bye to those that drown
For each his chance as chance shall sendAnd God for all!
The strength of twice three thousand horse That serve the one command;
The hand that heaves the headlong force,
The doom-bolt in the darkness freed,
The white-hot wake, the 'wildering speed-
HERE run your colts at pasture? Where hide your mares to breed?' 'Mid bergs about the Ice-cap
Or wove Sargasso weed;
By chartless reef and channel,
"Who holds the rein upon you?'
The glut of all the sea.
Afar, off-shore and single,
Some stallion, rearing swift,
Neighs hungry for new fodder,
And calls us to the drift.
Then down the cloven ridges
A million hooves unshod
Break forth the mad White Horses
Girth-deep in hissing water
Our furious vanguard strains-
'Whose hand may grip your nostrils-
That spy upon our matings,
That rope us where we run
They know the strong White Horses
From father unto son.
We breathe about their cradles,
'And come they for your calling?' No wit of man may save.