Sure as the wild gulls make
From the west gate to the beach
Rode these two for whom now freedom
Landward lay beyond their reach.
And the great horse, scenting
Snorted at the flying spume,
Flicked with courage, as how often,
When the tides were racing doom,
Ridden, he had plunged to
From that seething icy hell
Some poor sailor wrecked a-fishing
On the coast. What fears should quell
That high spirit? Knee
King and stallion reared and sprang
Clear above the long white combers
And that turmoil’s iron clang.
What a launching! For
While the tempest held its breath
And a thousand eyes looked wonder,
Swimming in that trough of death,
Steering seaward through the
Ere they settled out of sight,
Waved above them one gold streamer.
Valor, bid the world good-night!...
Not a trace, while the long
Warm the heart of Brittany,
Save one stone of Ys, as remnant,
For a white mark in the sea.
Buried alive in calm Rochelle,
Six in a row by a crystal well,
All Summer long on Bareau
Slumber and sleep the Kelpie men;
By the side of each to cheer
A flagon of foam with a crumpet of frost.
Hear me, friends, for the
years are fleet;
Soon I leave the noise and the street
For the silent uncompanioned
Where the inn is cold and the night is gray.
But noon is warm and the world
Where the Kelpie riders have their will.
For never a wind dare stir
Over those marshes salt and gray;
No bit of shade as big as
To traverse or trammel the sleeping land,
Save where a dozen poplars
The long gray grass and the well’s blue beck.
Yet you mark their leaves
are blanched and sear,
Whispering daft at a nameless fear.
While round the hole of one
is a rune,
Black in the wash of the bleaching noon.
“Ride, for the wind
is awake and away.
Sleep, for the harvest grain is gray.”
No word more. And many
A ghostly bivouac rank and file,
They sleep to-day on the marshes
Some far night they will wake and ride.
Once they were riders hot
“Kelpie, Kelpie, gallop at need!”
With hills of the barren sea
Housing their horses on the foam.
But earth is cool and the
hush is long
Beneath the lull of the slumber song