Month: January 2016

The Destroyers

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1898

The strength of twice three thousand horse
That seeks 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!

Offshore where sea and skyline blend
In rain, the daylight dies;
The sullen, shouldering sweels attend
Night and our sacrifice.
Adown the stricken capes no flare —
No mark on spit or bar, —
Birdled 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 carce 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 were 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 end end,
Good-bye to those that drown —
For each his chance as chance shall send —
And 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!

 

– Rudyard Kipling

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31st January – On This Day In History

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Born:

1951 Phil Collins (musician, drummer, Genesis)

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Died:

1606 Guy Fawkes (Gunpowder plot, executed)

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On This Day:

1968 Viet Cong’s Tet Offensive begins

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Have a good Sunday, 31st January

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The Outlaws

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1914

Through learned and laborious years
They set themselves to find
Fresh terrors and undreamed-of fears
To heap upon mankind.

ALl that they drew from Heaven above
Or digged from earth beneath,
They laid into their treasure-trove
And arsenals of death:

While, for well-weighed advantage sake,
Ruler and ruled alike
Built up the faith they meant to break
When the fit hour should strike.

They traded with the careless earth,
And good return it gave:
They plotted by their neighbour’s hearth
The means to make him slave.

When all was ready to their hand
They loosed their hidden sword,
And utterly laid waste a land
Their oath was pledged to guard.

Coldly they went about to raise
To life and make more dread
Abominations of old days,
That men believed were dead.

They paid the price to reach their goal
Across a world in flame;
But their own hate slew their own soul
Before that victory came.

 

– Rudyard Kipling

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30th January – On This Day In History

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Born:

1931 Gene Hackman (actor)

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Died:

1948 Mahatma Ghandi (Indian peaceful activist)

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On This Day:

1969 The Beatles perform together for the last time

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Have a good Saturday, 30th January

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The Jacket

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Through the Plagues of Egyp’ we was chasin’ Arabi,
Gettin’ down an’ shovin’ in the sun;
An’ you might ‘ave called us dirty, an’ you might ha’ called us dry,
An’ you might ‘ave ‘eard us talkin’ at the gun.
But the Captain ‘ad ‘is jacket, an’ the jacket it was new —
(‘Orse Gunners, listen to my song!)
An’ the wettin’ of the jacket is the proper thing to do,
Nor we didn’t keep ‘im waitin’ very long.

One day they gave us orders for to shell a sand redoubt,
Loadin’ down the axle-arms with case;
But the Captain knew ‘is dooty, an’ he took the crackers out
An’ he put some proper liquor in its place.
An’ the Captain saw the shrapnel, which is six-an’-thirty clear.
(‘Orse Gunners, listen to my song!)
“Will you draw the weight,” sez ‘e, “or will you draw the beer?”
An’ we didn’t keep ‘im waitin’ very long.
~For the Captain, etc.~

Then we trotted gentle, not to break the bloomin’ glass,
Though the Arabites ‘ad all their ranges marked;
But we dursn’t ‘ardly gallop, for the most was bottled Bass,
An’ we’d dreamed of it since we was disembarked:
So we fired economic with the shells we ‘ad in ‘and,
(‘Orse Gunners, listen to my song!)
But the beggars under cover ‘ad the impidence to stand,
An’ we couldn’t keep ’em waitin’ very long.
~And the Captain, etc.~

So we finished ‘arf the liquor (an’ the Captain took champagne),
An’ the Arabites was shootin’ all the while;
An’ we left our wounded ‘appy with the empties on the plain,
An’ we used the bloomin’ guns for pro-jec-tile!
We limbered up an’ galloped — there were nothin’ else to do —
(‘Orse Gunners, listen to my song!)
An’ the Battery came a-boundin’ like a boundin’ kangaroo,
But they didn’t watch us comin’ very long.
~As the Captain, etc.~

We was goin’ most extended — we was drivin’ very fine,
An’ the Arabites were loosin’ ‘igh an’ wide,
Till the Captain took the glassy with a rattlin’ right incline,
An’ we dropped upon their ‘eads the other side.
Then we give ’em quarter — such as ‘adn’t up and cut,
(‘Orse Gunners, listen to my song!)
An’ the Captain stood a limberful of fizzy — somethin’ Brutt,
But we didn’t leave it fizzing very long.
~For the Captain, etc.~

We might ha’ been court-martialled, but it all come out all right
When they signalled us to join the main command.
There was every round expended, there was every gunner tight,
An’ the Captain waved a corkscrew in ‘is ‘and.
~But the Captain ‘ad ‘is jacket, etc.~

 

– Rudyard Kipling

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29th January – On This Day In History

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Born:

1945 Tom Selleck (actor)

Tom Selleck as Magnum PI

 

Died:

1963 Robert Frost (poet)

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On This Day:

1856 Victoria Cross established in Britain to recognise bravery in the armed forces

vc

 

Have a good Friday, 29th January

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The Liner She’s A Lady

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The Liner she’s a lady, an’ she never looks nor ‘eeds —
The Man-o’-War’s ‘er ‘usband, an’ ‘e gives ‘er all she needs;
But, oh, the little cargo-boats, that sail the wet seas roun’,
They’re just the same as you an’ me a-plyin’ up an’ down!

Plyin’ up an’ down, Jenny, ‘angin’ round the Yard,
All the way by Fratton tram down to Portsmouth ‘Ard;
Anythin’ for business, an’ we’re growin’ old —
Plyin’ up an’ down, Jenny, waitin’ in the cold!

The Liner she’s a lady by the paint upon ‘er face,
An’ if she meets an accident they count it sore disgrace:
The Man-o’-War’s ‘er ‘usband, and ‘e’s always ‘andy by,
But, oh, the little cargo-boats! they’ve got to load or die.

The Liner she’s a lady, and ‘er route is cut an’ dried;
The Man-o’-War’s ‘er ‘usband, an’ ‘e always keeps beside;
But, oh, the little cargo-boats that ‘aven’t any man,
They’ve got to do their business first, and make the most they can!

The Liner she’s a lady, and if a war should come,
The Man-o’-War’s ‘er ‘usband, and ‘e’d bid ‘er stay at home;
But, oh, the little cargo-boats that fill with every tide!
‘E’d ‘ave to up an’ fight for them, for they are England’s pride.

The Liner she’s a lady, but if she wasn’t made,
There still would be the cargo-boats for ‘ome an’ foreign trade.
The Man-o’-War’s ‘er ‘usband, but if we wasn’t ‘ere,
‘E wouldn’t have to fight at all for ‘ome an’ friends so dear.

‘Ome an’ friends so dear, Jenny, ‘angin’ round the Yard,
All the way by Fratton tram down to Portsmouth ‘Ard;
Anythin’ for business, an’ we’re growin’ old —
‘Ome an’ friends so dear, Jenny, waitin’ in the cold!

 

– Rudyard Kipling

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