The Kiplings and India: A Collection of Writings from British India, 1870-1900

Quæritur (Rudyard Kipling)


Dawn that disheartens the desolate dunes, 
      Dulness of day as it bursts on the beach,
Sea wind that shrillest the thinnest of tunes, 
      What is the wisdom thy wailings would teach? 
Far, far away, down the foam-frescoed reach,
       Where ravening rocks cleave the crest of the seas, 
Sigheth the sound of the sonorous speech, 
      As grey gull and guillemot gather their fees,
     Taking toll o the beasts that are bred in the seas. 

Foam flakes fly farther than faint eyes can follow—
       Drop down the desolate dunes and are done;
Fleeter than foam flowers flitteth the Swallow,
       Sheer for the sweets of the South and the Sun, 
What is thy tale, O tho treacherous Swallow?
       Sing my me thy secret, Beloved of the Skies, 
That I may gather my garments and follow—
       Flee on the path of the pinions and rise
       Where strong storms cease and the weary wind dies.  

Lo! I am bound with the chains of my sorrow;
      Swallow, swift Swallow, ah wait for awhile!
Stay but a moment—it may be to-morrow
      Chains shall be severed and sad souls shall smile. 
Only a moment—a mere minute's measure—
      How shall it hurt such a swift one as thou?
Pitiless Swallow, full flushed for they pleasure,
      Can'st thou not even one instant allow
      To weaker-winged wanderers?—Wait for me now.  

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