A Departure

The Parable of Boy Jones
Land and Sea Tales (1919-1923)




SINCE first the White Horse Banner blew free,
By Hengist's horde unfurled,
Nothing has changed on land or sea
Of the things that steer the world.
(As it was when the long-ships scudded through the gale
So it is where the Liners go.)
Time and Tide, they are both in a taleó
"Woe to the weakerówoe! "

No charm can bridle the hard-mouthed wind
Or smooth the fretting swell.
No gift can alter the grey Sea's mind,
But she serves the strong man well.
(As it is when her uttermost deeps are stirred
So it is where the quicksands show,)
All the waters have but one wordó
"Woe to the weakerówoe! "

The feast is ended, the tales are told,
The dawn is overdue,
And we meet on the quay in the whistling cold
Where the galley waits her crew.
Out with the torches, they have flared too long,
And bid the harpers go.
Wind and warfare have but one songó
"Woe to the weakerówoe! "

Hail to the great oars gathering way,
As the beach begins to slide!
Hail to the war-shields' click and play
As they lift along our side!
Hail to the first wave over the bowó
Slow for the sea-stroke! Slow!ó
All the benches are grunting now:ó
"Woe to the weakerówoe! "