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Rudyard Kipling

(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936 / Bombay)

The Song of the Women


How shall she know the worship we would do her?
The walls are high, and she is very far.
How shall the woman's message reach unto her
Above the tumult of the packed bazaar?
Free wind of March, against the lattice blowing,
Bear thou our thanks, lest she depart unknowing.

Go forth across the fields we may not roam in,
Go forth beyond the trees that rim the city,
To whatsoe'er fair place she hath her home in,
Who dowered us with walth of love and pity.
Out of our shadow pass, and seek her singing --
"I have no gifts but Love alone for bringing."

Say that we be a feeble folk who greet her,
But old in grief, and very wise in tears;
Say that we, being desolate, entreat her
That she forget us not in after years;
For we have seen the light, and it were grievous
To dim that dawning if our lady leave us.

By life that ebbed with none to stanch the failing
By Love's sad harvest garnered in the spring,
When Love in ignorance wept unavailing
O'er young buds dead before their blossoming;
By all the grey owl watched, the pale moon viewed,
In past grim years, declare our gratitude!

By hands uplifted to the Gods that heard not,
By fits that found no favor in their sight,
By faces bent above the babe that stirred not,
By nameless horrors of the stifling night;
By ills foredone, by peace her toils discover,
Bid Earth be good beneath and Heaven above her!

If she have sent her servants in our pain
If she have fought with Death and dulled his sword;
If she have given back our sick again.
And to the breast the wakling lips restored,
Is it a little thing that she has wrought?
Then Life and Death and Motherhood be nought.

Go forth, O wind, our message on thy wings,
And they shall hear thee pass and bid thee speed,
In reed-roofed hut, or white-walled home of kings,
Who have been helpen by ther in their need.
All spring shall give thee fragrance, and the wheat
Shall be a tasselled floorcloth to thy feet.

Haste, for our hearts are with thee, take no rest!
Loud-voiced ambassador, from sea to sea
Proclaim the blessing, mainfold, confessed.
Of those in darkness by her hand set free.
Then very softly to her presence move,
And whisper: "Lady, lo, they know and love!"

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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