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Ere our birth (rememberest thou?) side by side we lay
Fretting in the womb of Rome to begin our fray.

Ere men knew our tongues apart, our one task was known—
Each to mould the other's fate as he wrought his own.
To this end we stirred mankind till all Earth was ours,
Till our world-end strifes begat wayside Thrones and Powers-
Puppets that we made or broke to bar the other's path—
Necessary, outpost-folk, hirelings of our wrath.

To this end we stormed the seas, tack for tack, and burst Through the doorways of new worlds, doubtful which was first,

Hand on hilt (rememberest thou?) ready for the blowSure, whatever else we met, we should meet our foe. Spurred or balked at every stride by the other's strength, So we rode the ages down and every ocean's length!

Where did you refrain from us or we refrain from you?
Ask the wave that has not watched war between us two!
Others held us for a while, but with weaker charms,
These we quitted at the call for each other's arms.
Eager toward the known delight, equally we strove-
Each the other's mystery, terror, need, and love.
To each other's open court with our proofs we came.
Where could we find honour else, or men to test our claim?
From each other's throat we wrenched-valour's last re-


That extorted word of praise gasped 'twixt lunge and guard.
In each other's cup we poured mingled blood and tears,
Brutal joys, unmeasured hopes, intolerable fears-
All that soiled or salted life for a thousand years.
Proved beyond the need of proof, matched in every clime,
O Companion, we have lived greatly through all time!

Yoked in knowledge and remorse, now we come to rest,
Laughing at old villainies that Time has turned to jest;
Pardoning old necessities no pardon can efface—
That undying sin we shared in Rouen market-place.

Now we watch the new years shape, wondering if they hold
Fiercer lightnings in their heart than we launched of old.
Now we hear new voices rise, question, boast or gird,
As we raged (rememberest thou?) when our crowds were

Now we count new keels afloat, and new hosts on land, Massed like ours (rememberest thou?) when our strokes were planned.

We were schooled for dear life's sake, to know each other's blade.

What can Blood and Iron make more than we have made?
We have learned by keenest use to know each other's mind.
What shall Blood and Iron loose that we cannot bind?
We who swept each other's coast, sacked each other's home,
Since the sword of Brennus clashed on the scales at Rome
Listen, count and close again, wheeling girth to girth,
In the linked and steadfast guard set for peace on earth!

Broke to every known mischance, lifted over all

By the light sane joy of life, the buckler of the Gaul;
Furious in luxury, merciless in toil,

Terrible with strength renewed from a tireless soil;

Strictest judge of her own worth, gentlest of man's mind, First to face the Truth and last to leave old Truths behindFrance, beloved of every soul that loves or serves its kind!



BEFORE a midnight breaks in storm,
Or herded sea in wrath,

Ye know what wavering gusts inform
The greater tempest's path?

Till the loosed wind
Drive all from mind,

Except Distress, which, so will prophets cry, O'ercame them, houseless, from the unhinting sky.

Ere rivers league against the land

In piratry of flood,

Ye know what waters steal and stand

Where seldom water stood.

Yet who will note,

Till fields afloat,

And washen carcass and the returning well,
Trumpet what these poor heralds strove to tell?

Ye know who use the Crystal Ball
(To peer by stealth on Doom),
The Shade that, shaping first of all,
Prepares an empty room.
Then doth It pass

Like breath from glass,

But, on the extorted vision bowed intent,
No man considers why It came or went.

Before the years reborn behold
Themselves with stranger eye,

And the sport-making Gods of old,
Like Samson slaying, die,
Many shall hear

The all-pregnant sphere,

Bow to the birth and sweat, but-speech deniedSit dumb or dealt in part-fall weak and wide.

Yet instant to fore-shadowed need

The eternal balance swings;
That winged men the Fates may breed
So soon as Fate hath wings.

These shall possess

Our littleness,

And in the imperial task (as worthy) lay

Up our lives' all to piece one giant Day.



THEY christened my brother of old

And a saintly name he bears-
They gave him his place to hold
At the head of the belfry-stairs,
Where the minster-towers stand
And the breeding kestrels cry.

Would I change with my brother a league inland? (Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I!

In the flush of the hot June prime,
O'er sleek flood-tides afire,

I hear him hurry the chime

To the bidding of checked Desire;

Till the sweated ringers tire

And the wild bob-majors die.

Could I wait for my turn in the godly choir?

(Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I!

When the smoking scud is blown

When the greasy wind-rack lowers

Apart and at peace and alone,

He counts the changeless hours.

He wars with darkling Powers

(I war with a darkling sea);

Would he stoop to my work in the gusty mirk? (Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not he!

There was never a priest to pray,

There was never a hand to toll,

When they made me guard of the bay,

And moored me over the shoal.

I rock, I reel, and I roll—

My four great hammers ply

Could I speak or be still at the Church's will? (Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I!

The landward marks have failed,
The fog-bank glides unguessed,
The seaward lights are veiled,
The spent deep feigns her rest:
But my ear is laid to her breast,
I lift to the swell-I cry!

Could I wait in sloth on the Church's oath? (Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I!

At the careless end of night
I thrill to the nearing screw;
I turn in the clearing light

And I call to the drowsy crew;
And the mud boils foul and blue
As the blind bow backs away.

Will they give me their thanks if they clear the banks? (Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not they!

The beach-pools cake and skim,

The bursting spray-heads freeze,

I gather on crown and rim

The grey, grained ice of the seas,
Where, sheathed from bitt to trees,

The plunging colliers lie.

Would I barter my place for the Church's grace? (Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I!

Through the blur of the whirling snow,

Or the black of the inky sleet,

The lanterns gather and grow,

And I look for the homeward fleet.

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