The Wet Litany (Poem by Rudyard Kipling)

Poem Examples

The Wet Litany
By Rudyard Kipling


When the water's countenance
Blurrs 'twixt glance and second glance;
When our tattered smokes forerun.
Ashen 'neath a silvered sun;
When the curtain of the haze
Shuts upon our helpless ways — 
    Hear the Channel Fleet at sea;
    Libera nos Domine!

When the engines' bated pulse
Scarcely thrills the nosing hulls;
When the wash along the side
Sounds, a sudden, magnified;
When the intolerable blast
Marks each blindfold minute passed;

When the fog-buoy's squattering flight
Guides us through the haggard night;
When the warning bugle blows;
When the lettered doorways close;
When our brittle townships press,
Impotent, on emptiness;

When the unseen leadsmen lean
Questioning a deep unseen;
When their lessened count they tell
To a bridge invisible;
When the hid and perilous
Cliffs return our cry to us;

When the treble thickness spread
Swallows up our next-ahead;
When her siren's frightened whine
Shows her sheering out of line;
When, her passage undiscerned,
We must turn where she has turned,
    Hear the Channel Fleet at sea:
    Libera nos Domine!

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