A Rector's Memory
Poem by Rudyard Kipling
St. Andrews, 1923
The, Gods that are wiser than Learning
But kinder than Life have made sure
No mortal may boast in the morning
That even will find him secure.
With naught for fresh faith or new trial,
With little unsoiled or unsold,
Can the shadow go back on the dial,
Or a new world be given for the old?
But he knows not that time shall awaken,
As he knows not what tide shall lay bare,
The heart of a man to be taken --
Taken and changed unaware.
He shall see as he tenders his vows
The far, guarded City arise --
The power of the North 'twixt Her brows --
The steel of the North in Her eyes;
The sheer hosts of Heaven above --
The grey warlock Ocean beside;
And shall feel the full centuries move
To Her purpose and pride.
Though a stranger shall he understand,
As though it were old in his blood,
The lives that caught fire 'neath Her hand --
The fires that were tamed to Her mood.
And the roar of the wind shall refashion,
And the wind-driven torches recall,
The passing of Time and the passion
Of Youth over all!
And, by virtue of magic unspoken
(What need She should utter Her power?)
The frost at his heart shall be broken
And his spirit be changed in that hour --
Changed and renewed in that hour!
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