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HE strength of twice three thousand horse
That seek the single goal;

The line that holds the rending course,
The hate that swings the whole:

The stripped hulls, slinking through the gloom,
At gaze and gone again—

The Brides of Death that wait the groom-
The Choosers of the Slain!

Off-shore where sea and skyline blend
In rain, the daylight dies;

The sullen, shouldering swells attend
Night and our sacrifice.

Adown the stricken capes no flare-
No mark on spit or bar,-
Girdled and desperate we dare

The blindfold game of war.

Nearer the up-flung beams that spell
The council of our foes;

Clearer the barking guns that tell

Their scattered flank to close.

Sheer to the trap they crowd their way
From ports for this unbarred.
Quiet, and count our laden prey,
The convoy and her guard!

On shoal with scarce a foot below,
Where rock and islet throng,

Hidden and hushed we watch them throw
Their anxious lights along.

Not here, not here your danger lies-
(Stare hard, O hooded eyne!)
Save where the dazed rock-pigeons rise
The lit cliffs give no sign.

Therefore-to break the rest ye seek,
The Narrow Seas to clear-
Hark to the siren's whimpering shriek—
The driven death is here!
Look to your van a league away,—

What midnight terror stays

The bulk that checks against the spray
Her crackling tops ablaze?

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-
The deep that chokes her throes

Till, streaked with ash and sleeked with oil,
The lukewarm whirlpools close!


A shadow down the sickened wave
Long since her slayer fled:

But hear their chattering quick-fires rave
Astern, abeam, ahead!

Panic that shells the drifting spar-
Loud waste with none to check-
Mad fear that rakes a scornful star
Or sweeps a consort's deck!

Now, while their silly smoke hangs thick,
Now ere their wits they find,

Lay in and lance them to the quick-
Our gallied whales are blind!

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!

Shut down!

The strength of twice three thousand horse That serve the one command;

The hand that heaves the headlong force,
The hate that backs the hand:

The doom-bolt in the darkness freed,
The mine that splits the main;

The white-hot wake, the 'wildering speed-
The Choosers of the Slain!




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,
Or crafty coastwise bars,
But most the ocean-meadows
All purple to the stars!

"Who holds the rein upon you?'
The latest gale let free.
'What meat is in your mangers?'

The glut of all the sea.
"Twixt tide and tide's returning
Great store of newly dead,-
The bones of those that faced us,
And the hearts of those that fled.

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
To seek their meat from God!

Girth-deep in hissing water

Our furious vanguard strains-
Through mist of mighty tramplings
Roll up the fore-blown manes-
A hundred leagues to leeward,
Ere yet the deep is stirred,
The groaning rollers carry
The coming of the herd!

'Whose hand may grip your nostrils-
Your forelock who may hold?'
E'en they that use the broads with us-
The riders bred and bold,

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,
We race their babes ashore,
We snuff against their thresholds,
We nuzzle at their door;
By day with stamping squadrons,
By night in whinnying droves,
Creep up the wise White Horses,
To call them from their loves.

'And come they for your calling?' No wit of man may save.

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