The Last Lap
How do we know, by the bank-high river,
Where the mired and sulky oxen wait,
And it looks as though we might wait for ever,
How do we know that the floods abate?
There is no change in the current's brawling--
Louder and harsher the freshet scolds;
Yet we can feel she is falling, falling
And the more she threatens the less she holds,
Down to the drift, with no word spoken,
The wheel-chained wagons slither and slue....
Achtung! The back of the worst is broken!
And--lash your leaders!--we're through--we're through!
How do we know, when the port-fog holds us
Moored and helpless, a mile from the pier,
And the week-long summer smother enfolds us--
How do we know it is going to clear?
There is no break in the blindfold weather,
But, one and another, about the bay,
The unseen capstans clink together,
Getting ready to up and away.
A pennon whimpers--the breeze has found us--
A headsail jumps through the thinning haze.
The whole hull follows, till--broad around us--
The clean-swept ocean says: "Go your ways!"
How do we know, when the long fight rages,
On the old, stale front that we cannot shake,
And it looks as though we were locked for ages,
How do we know they are going to break?
There is no lull in the level firing,
Nothing has shifted except the sun.
Yet we can feel they are tiring, tiring--
Yet we can tell they are ripe to run.
Something wavers, and, while we wonder,
Their centre-trenches are emptying out,
And, before their useless flanks go under,
Our guns have pounded retreat to rout!
Rudyard Kipling's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (The Last Lap by Rudyard Kipling )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(13 September 1916 – 23 November 1990)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
William Butler Yeats
(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939)
(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- Alone, Edgar Allan Poe
Poem of the Day
- To dictators, Simon Grayman
- UFC 183: Watch Anderson Silva vs Nick Di.., Renz Barns
- The Dark Side, Sandra Feldman
- Chasing Constellations, Russell Nero
- Aroma, Muhammad Farhan Ahmed
- Illusion, Noah Body
- Leprae, Brave Hearts
- In the Green are Emotions, Rohit Sapra
- Heart Beat Outpaced xx xxx xx Impro.., Lee Mack
- When a letter to my love will not just do, Rob Spiering