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Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

The Scholars

1919
Some handreds of the young naval officers
whose education was interrupted by the War
are now to be sent to various colleges at Cambridge
to continue their studies. The experiment will be watched with great interest." -
DAYLY PAPERS
"OH, SHOW me how a rose can shut and be a bud again!"
Nay, watch my Lords of the Admiralty, for they have the work 
         in train.
They have taken the men that were careless lads at Dartmouth in 
         'Fourteen
And entered them at the landward schools as though no war had 
         been.
They have piped the children off all the seas from the Falklands 
         to the Bight,
And quartered them on the Colleges to learn to read and write! 
Their books were rain and sleet and fog-the dry gale and the 
         snow,
Their teachers were the horned mines and the hump-backed 
         Death below.
Their schools were walled by the walking mist and roofed by 
         the waiting skies,
When they conned their task in a new-sown field with the 
         Moonlight Sacrifice.
They were not rated too young to teach, nor reckoned unfit to 
          guide
When they formed their class on Helles' beach at the bows of the  
          "River Clyde."

Their eyes are sunk by endless watch, their faces roughed lay 
         spray,	.
Their feet are drawn by the wet sea-boots they changed not night 
         or day
When they guarded the six-knot convoy's flank on the road  to
         Norroway.
Their ears are stuffed with the week-long roar of the West- 
         Atlantic gale
When the sloops were watching the Irish Shore from Galway 
         to Kinsale.
Their hands are scored where the life-lines cut or the dripping 
         funnel-stays

When they followed their leader at thirty knot between the 
         Skaw and the Naze.
Their mouths are filled with the magic words they learned at 
          collier's hatch
When they coaled in the foul December dawns and sailed in 
          forenoon-watch;
Or measured the weight of a Pentland tide and the wind off
          Ronaldshay,
Till the target mastered the breathless tug and the hawser carried
          away.

They know the price to be paid for a fault-for a gauge-clock 
         wrongly read,
Or a picket-boat to the gangway brought bows-on and full- 
         ahead,
Or the drowsy's second's lack of thought that costs a dozen dead. 
They have touched a knowledge outreaching speech- as when 
         the cutters were sent
To harvest the dreadful mile of beach after the Vanguard 
         went.
They have learned great faith and little fear and a high heart in 
         distress,
And how to suffer each sodden year of heaped-up wearness.
They have borne the bridle upon their lips and the yoke upon 
         their neck,
Since they went down to the sea in ships to save the world from 
         wreck-
Since the chests were slung down the College stair at Dartmouth 
         in 'Fourteen,
And now they are quit of the sea-affair as though no war had 
         been.
Far have they steamed and much have they known, and most 
          would they fain forget;
But now they are come to their joyous own with all the world 
           in their debt.
.         .          .        .          .         .           .          .           .           .
Soft-blow soft on them, little East Wind! Be smooth for them, 
         mighty stream!
Though the cams they use are not of your kind, and they bump, 
         for choice, by steam.
Lightly dance with them, Newnharn maid-but none too lightly 
         believe.
They are hot from the fifty-month blockade, and they carry 
         their hearts on their sleeve.
Tenderly, Proctor, let them down, if they do not walk as they 
         should:
For, by God, if they owe you half a crown, you owe 'em your 
         four years' food!

Hallowed River, most gracious Trees, Chapel beyond compare, 
Here be gentlemen sick of the seas-take them into your care.
Far have they come, much have they braved. Give them their 
         hour of play,
While the hidden things their hands have saved work for them 
         day by day:
Till the grateful Past their youth redeemed return them their 
         youth once more,
And the Soul of the Child at last lets fall the unjust load that it
         bore!

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