Kipling Friday

The Long Trail

There's a whisper down the field where the year has shot her yield,
    And the ricks stand grey to the sun,
Singing: "Over then, come over, for the bee has quit the dover,
    "And your English summer's done."
         You have heard the beat of the off-shore wind,
         And the thresh of the deep-sea rain;
         You have heard the song --  how long? how long?
         Pull out on the trail again!
Ha' done with the Tents of Shem, dear lass,
We've seen the seasons through,
And it's time to turn the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
Pull out, pull out, on the Long Trail-the trail that is always new!

It's North you may run to the rime-ringed sun
    Or South to the blind Hom's hate;
Or East all the way into Mississippi Bay,
    Or West to the Golden Gate --
         Where the blindest bluffs hold good, dear lass,
         And the wildest tales are true,
         And the men bulk big on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
         And life runs large on the Long Trail -- the trail that is always new.

The days are sick and cold, and the skies are grey and old
    And the twice-breathed airs blow damp;
And I'd sell my tired soul for the bucking beam-sea roll
    Of a black Bilbao tramp,
         With her load-line over her hatch, dear lass,
         And a drunken Dago crew,
         And her nose held down on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail
         From Cadiz south on the Long Trail-the trail that is always new.

There be triple ways to take, of the eagle or the snake,
    Or the way of a man with a maid;
But the sweetest way to me is a ship's upon the sea
    In the heel of the North-East Trade.
         Can you hear the crash on her brows, dear lass.
         And the drum of the racing screw,
         As she ships it green on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
         As she lifts and 'scends on the Long Trail -- the trail that is always new?

See the shaking funnels roar, with the Peter at the fore,
    And the fenders grind and heave,
And the derricks clack and grate, as the tackle hooks the crate,
    And the fall-rope whines through the sheave;
         It's "Gang-plank up and in," dear lass,
         It's "Hawsers warp her through!"
         And it's "All clear aft" on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
         We're backing down on the Long Trail -- the trail that is always new.

O the mutter overside, when the port-fog holds us tied,
    And the sirens hoot their dread,
When foot by foot we creep o'er the hueless, viewless deep
    To the sob of the questing lead!
         It's down by the Lower Hope, dear lass,
         With the Grinfleet Sands in view,
         Till the Mouse swings green on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
         And the Gull Light lifts on the Long Trail -- the trail that is always new.

O the blazing tropic night, when the wake's a welt of light
    That holds the hot sky tame,
And the steady fore-foot snores through the planet-powdered floors
    Where the scared whale flukes in flame!
         Her plates are flaked by the sun, dear lass
         And her ropes are taut with the dew,
         For we're booming down on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
         We're sagging south on the Long Trail -- the trail that is always new.

Then home, get her home, where the drunken rollers comb,
    And the shouting seas drive by,
And the engines stamp and ring, and the wet bows reel and swing,
    And the Southern Cross rides high!
         Yes, the old lost stars wheel back, dear lass,
         That blaze in the velvet blue.
         They're all old friends on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
         They're God's own guides on the Long Trail -- the trail that is always new.

Fly forward, O my heart, from the Foreland to the Start
    We're steaming all too slow,
And it's twenty thousand mile to our little lazy isle
    Where the trumpet-orchids blow!
         You have heard the call of the off-shore wind
         And the voice of the deep-sea rain;
         You have heard the song-how long? how long?
         Pull out on the trail again!

The Lord knows what we may find, dear lass,
And The Deuce knows we may do
But we're back once more on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
We're down, hull-down, on the Long Trail -- the trail that is always new!

Kipling Friday

“Late Came the God”

“The Wish House”

Late came the God, having sent his forerunners who were
      not regarded--
  Late, but in wrath;
Saying: "The wrong shall be paid, the contempt be rewarded
  On all that she hath."
He poisoned the blade and struck home, the full bosom receiving
The wound and the venom in one, past cure or relieving.
He made treaty with Time to stand still that the grief might
     be fresh--
Daily renewed and nightly pursued through her soul to her
     flesh--
Mornings of memory, noontides of agony, midnights unslaked
     for her,
Till the stones of the streets of her Hells and her Paradise ached
     for her.

So she lived while her body corrupted upon her.
  And she called on the Night for a sign, and a Sign was allowed,
And she builded an Altar and served by the light of her Vision--
  Alone, without hope of regard or reward, but uncowed,
Resolute, selfless, divine.
  These things she did in Love's honour...
What is a God beside Woman? Dust and derision!

Kipling Friday

The Last Ode

Nov. 27, 8 B.C.
Horace, BK. V. Ode 31
“The Eye of Allah”
“From “Debits and Credits”(1919-1923)

As WATCHERS couched beneath a Bantine oak,
  Hearing the dawn-wind stir,
Know that the present strength of night is broke
  Though no dawn threaten her
Till dawn's appointed hour--so Virgil died,
  Aware of change at hand, and prophesied

Change upon all the Eternal Gods had made
  And on the Gods alike--
Fated as dawn but, as the dawn, delayed
  Till the just hour should strike--

A Star new-risen above the living and dead;
  And the lost shades that were our loves restored
As lovers, and for ever. So he said;
  Having received the word...

Maecenas waits me on the Esquiline:
  Thither to-night go I....
And shall this dawn restore us, Virgil mine
  To dawn? Beneath what sky?

Kipling Friday

The King’s Job

The Tudor Monarchy

Once on a time was a King anxious to understand
What was the wisest thing a man could do for his land.
Most of his population hurried to answer the question,
Each with a long oration, each with a new suggestion.
They interrupted his meals -- he wasn't safe in his bed from 'em --
They hung round his neck and heels, and at last His Majesty fled from 'em.
He put on a leper's cloak (people leave lepers alone),
Out of the window he broke, and abdicated his throne.
All that rapturous day, while his Court and his ministers mourned him,
He danced on his own highway till his own Policeman warned him.
Gay and cheerful he ran (lepers don't cheer as a rule)
Till he found a philosopher-man teaching an infant-school.
The windows were open wide, the King sat down on the grass,
And heard the children inside reciting "Our King is an ass."
The King popped in his head: "Some people would call this treason,
But I think you are right," he said; "Will you kindly give me your reason?"     
Lepers in school are as rare as kings with a leper's dress on,
But the class didn't stop or stare; it calmly went on with the lesson:
"The wisest thing, we suppose, that a man can do for his land.
Is the work that lies under his nose, with the tools that lie under his hand."
The King whipped off his cloak, and stood in his crown before 'em.
He said: "My dear little folk,  Ex ore parvulorum --."
(Which is Latin for "Children know more than grown-ups would credit" )
You have shown me the road to go, and I propose to tread it."
Back to his Kingdom he ran, and issued a Proclamation,
"Let every living man return to his occupation!"
Then he explained to the mob who cheered in his palace and round it,
"I've been to look for a job, and Heaven be praised I've found it!"

Kipling Friday

Gethsemane

1914-18

The Garden called Gethsemane
  In Picardy it was,
And there the people came to see
  The English soldiers pass.
We used to pass -- we used to pass
Or halt, as it might be,
And ship our masks in case of gas
  Beyond Gethsemane.

The Garden called Gethsemane,
  It held a pretty lass,
But all the time she talked to me
  I prayed my cup might pass.
The officer sat on the chair,
  The men lay on the grass,
And all the time we halted there
  I prayed my cup might pass.

It didn't pass -- it didn't pass --
  It didn't pass from me.
I drank it when we met the gas
  Beyond Gethsemane!

Kipling Friday

The One Black Stain by Robert Ervin Howard:

They carried him out on the barren sand
where the rebel captains died;
Where the grim gray rotting gibbets stand
as Magellan reared them on the strand,
And the gulls that haunt the lonesome land
wail to the lonely tide.

Drake faced them all like a lion at bay,
with his lion head upflung:
“Dare ye my word of law defy,
to say this traitor shall not die?”
And his captains dared not meet his eye
but each man held his tongue.

Solomon Kane stood forth alone,
grim man of sober face:
“Worthy of death he may well be,
but the trial ye held was mockery,
“Ye hid your spite in a travesty
where justice hid her face.

“More of the man had ye been, on deck
your sword to cleanly draw
“In forthright fury from its sheath
and openly cleave him to the teeth —
“Rather than slink and hide beneath
a hollow word of the law.”

Hell rose in the eyes of Francis Drake.
“Puritan knave!” swore he.
“Headsman! Give him the axe instead!
He shall strike off yon traitor’s head!”
Solomon folded his arms and said,
darkly and somberly:

“I am no slave for your butcher’s work.”
“Bind him with triple strands!”
Drake roared and the men obeyed,
Hesitantly, as if afraid,
But Kane moved not as they took his blade
and pinioned his iron hands.

They bent the doomed man over to his knees,
the man who was to die;
They saw his lips in a strange smile bend,
one last long look they saw him send,
At Drake his judge and his one time friend
who dared not meet his eye.

The axe flashed silver in the sun,
a red arch slashed the sand;
A voice cried out as the head fell clear,
and the watchers flinched in sudden fear,
Though ’twas but a sea bird wheeling near
above the lonely strand.

“This be every traitor’s end!”
Drake cried, and yet again.
Slowly his captains turned and went
and the admiral’s stare was elsewhere bent
Than where the cold scorn with anger blent
in the eyes of Solomon Kane.

Night fell on the crawling waves;
the admiral’s door was closed;
Solomon lay in the stenching hold;
his irons clashed as the ship rolled.
And his guard, grown weary and overbold,
lay down his pipe and dozed.

He woke with a hand at his corded throat
that gripped him like a vise;
Trembling he yielded up the key,
and the somber Puritan stood free,
His cold eyes gleaming murderously
with the wrath that is slow to rise.

Unseen, to the admiral’s door,
went Solomon Kane from the guard,
Through the night and silence of the ship,
the guard’s keen dagger in his grip;
No man of the dull crew saw him slip
through the door unbarred.

Drake at the table sat alone,
his face sunk in his hands;
He looked up, as from sleeping —
but his eyes were blank with weeping
As if he saw not, creeping,
death’s swiftly flowing sands.

He reached no hand for gun or blade
to halt the hand of Kane,
Nor even seemed to hear or see,
lost in black mists of memory,
Love turned to hate and treachery,
and bitter, cankering pain.

A moment Solomon Kane stood there,
the dagger poised before,
As a condor stoops above a bird,
and Francis Drake spoke not nor stirred
And Kane went forth without a word
and closed the cabin door.

Kipling Friday

“Follow Me ‘ome”

   There was no one like 'im, 'Orse or Foot,
    Nor any o' the Guns I knew;
An' because it was so, why, o' course 'e went an' died,
    Which is just what the best men do.

So it's knock out your pipes an' follow me!
An' it's finish up your swipes an' follow me!
 Oh, 'ark to the big drum callin',
  Follow me -- follow me 'ome!

   'Is mare she neighs the 'ole day long,
    She paws the 'ole night through,
An' she won't take 'er feed 'cause o' waitin' for 'is step,
    Which is just what a beast would do.

   'Is girl she goes with a bombardier
    Before 'er month is through;
An' the banns are up in church, for she's got the beggar hooked,
    Which is just what a girl would do.

   We fought 'bout a dog -- last week it were --
    No more than a round or two;
But I strook 'im cruel 'ard, an' I wish I 'adn't now,
    Which is just what a man can't do.

   'E was all that I 'ad in the way of a friend,
    An' I've 'ad to find one new;
But I'd give my pay an' stripe for to get the beggar back,
    Which it's just too late to do!

So it's knock out your pipes an' follow me!
An' it's finish off your swipes an' follow me!
 Oh, 'ark to the fifes a-crawlin'!
  Follow me -- follow me 'ome!

     Take 'im away!  'E's gone where the best men go.
     Take 'im away!  An' the gun-wheels turnin' slow.
     Take 'im away!  There's more from the place 'e come.
     Take 'im away, with the limber an' the drum.

For it's "Three rounds blank" an' follow me,
An' it's "Thirteen rank" an' follow me;
 Oh, passin' the love o' women,
  Follow me -- follow me 'ome!

Kipling Friday

“For All We Have And Are”

1914

For all we have and are,
For all our children's fate,
Stand up and take the war.
The Hun is at the gate!
Our world has passed away,
In wantonness o'erthrown.
There is nothing left to-day
But steel and fire and stone!
        Though all we knew depart,
        The old Commandments stand: --
        "In courage keep your heart,
        In strength lift up your hand."

Once more we hear the word
That sickened earth of old: --
"No law except the Sword
Unsheathed and uncontrolled."
Once more it knits mankind,
Once more the nations go
To meet and break and bind
A crazed and driven foe.

Comfort, content, delight,
The ages' slow-bought gain,
They shrivelled in a night.
Only ourselves remain
To face the naked days
In silent fortitude,
Through perils and dismays
Renewed and re-renewed.
        Though all we made depart,
        The old Commandments stand: --
        "In patience keep your heart,
        In strength lift up your hand."

No easy hope or lies
Shall bring us to our goal,
But iron sacrifice
Of body, will, and soul.
There is but one task for all --
One life for each to give.
What stands if Freedom fall?
Who dies if England live?

Kipling Friday

The Female of the Species

1911

When the Himalayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride,
He shouts to scare the monster, who will often turn aside.
But the she-bear thus accosted rends the peasant tooth and nail.
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

When Nag the basking cobra hears the careless foot of man,
He will sometimes wriggle sideways and avoid it if he can.
But his mate makes no such motion where she camps beside the trail.
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

When the early Jesuit fathers preached to Hurons and Choctaws,
They prayed to be delivered from the vengeance of the squaws.
'Twas the women, not the warriors, turned those stark enthusiasts pale.
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

Man's timid heart is bursting with the things he must not say,
For the Woman that God gave him isn't his to give away;
But when hunter meets with husband, each confirms the other's tale --
The female of the species is more deadly than the male.

Man, a bear in most relations-worm and savage otherwise, --
Man propounds negotiations, Man accepts the compromise.
Very rarely will he squarely push the logic of a fact
To its ultimate conclusion in unmitigated act.

Fear, or foolishness, impels him, ere he lay the wicked low,
To concede some form of trial even to his fiercest foe.
Mirth obscene diverts his anger --- Doubt and Pity oft perplex
Him in dealing with an issue --  to the scandal of The Sex!

But the Woman that God gave him, every fibre of her frame
Proves her launched for one sole issue, armed and engined for the same;
And to serve that single issue, lest the generations fail,
The female of the species must be deadlier than the male.

She who faces Death by torture for each life beneath her breast
May not deal in doubt or pity -- must not swerve for fact or jest.
These be purely male diversions -- not in these her honour dwells.
She the Other Law we live by, is that Law and nothing else.

She can bring no more to living than the powers that make her great
As the Mother of the Infant and the Mistress of the Mate.
And when Babe and Man are lacking and she strides unclaimed to claim
Her right as femme (and baron), her equipment is the same.

She is wedded to convictions -- in default of grosser ties;
Her contentions are her children, Heaven help him who denies! --
He will meet no suave discussion, but the instant, white-hot, wild,
Wakened female of the species warring as for spouse and child.

Unprovoked and awful charges --  even so the she-bear fights,
Speech that drips, corrodes, and poisons -- even so the cobra bites,
Scientific vivisection of one nerve till it is raw
And the victim writhes in anguish -- like the Jesuit with the squaw!

So it cames that Man, the coward, when he gathers to confer
With his fellow-braves in council, dare not leave a place for her
Where, at war with Life and Conscience, he uplifts his erring hands
To some God of Abstract Justice -- which no woman understands.

And Man knows it! Knows, moreover, that the Woman that God gave him
Must command but may not govern -- shall enthral but not enslave him.
And She knows, because She warns him, and Her instincts never fail,
That the Female of Her Species is more deadly than the Male.

Kipling Friday

The Feet Of the Young Men

1897

Now the Four-way Lodge is opened, now the Hunting Winds are loose — Now the Smokes of Spring go up to clear the brain; Now the Young Men’s hearts are troubled for the whisper of the Trues, Now the Red Gods make their medicine again! Who hath seen the beaver busied? Who hath watched the black-tail mating? Who hath lain alone to hear the wild-goose cry? Who hath worked the chosen water where the ouananiche is waiting, Or the sea-trout’s jumping-crazy for the fly? He must go — go — go away from here! On the other side the world he’s overdue. ‘Send your road is clear before you when the old Spring-fret comes o’er you, And the Red Gods call for you! So for one the wet sail arching through the rainbow round the bow, And for one the creak of snow-shoes on the crust; And for one the lakeside lilies where the bull-moose waits the cow, And for one the mule-train coughing in the dust. Who hath smelt wood-smoke at twilight? Who hath heard the birch-log burning? Who is quick to read the noises of the night? Let him follow with the others, for the Young Men’s feet are turning Too the camps of proved desire and known delight! Let him go — go, etc. I Do you know the blackened timber — do you know that racing stream ‘ With the raw, right-angled log-jam at the end; And the bar of sun-warmed shingle where a man may bask and dream To the click of shod canoe-poles round the bend? It is there that we are going with our rods and reels and traces, To a silent, smoky Indian that we know — To a couch of new-pulled hemlock, with the starlight on our faces, For the Red Gods call us out and we must go! They must go — go, etc. II Do you know the shallow Baltic where the seas are steep and short, Where the bluff, lee-boarded fishing-luggers ride? Do you know the joy of threshing leagues to leeward of your port On a coast you’ve lost the chart of overside? It is there that I am going, with an extra hand to bale her — Just one able ‘long-shore loafer that I know. He can take his chance of drowning, while I sail and sail and sail her, For the Red Gods call me out and I must go! He must go — go, etc. III Do you know the pile-built village where the sago-dealers trade — Do you know the reek of fish and wet bamboo? Do you know the steaming stillness of the orchid-scented glade When the blazoned, bird-winged butterflies flap through? It is there that I am going with my camphor, net, and boxes, To a gentle, yellow pirate that I know — To my little wailing lemurs, to my palms and flying-foxes, For the Red Gods call me out and I must go! He must go — go, etc. IV Do you know the world’s white roof-tree — do you know that windy rift Where the baffling mountain-eddies chop and change? Do you know the long day’s patience, belly-down on frozen drift, While the head of heads is feeding out of range? It is there that I am going, where the boulders and the snow lie, With a trusty, nimble tracker that I know. I have sworn an oath, to keep it on the Horns of Ovis Poli, And the Red Gods call me out and I must go!He must go — go, etc. How the Four-way Lodge is opened — now the Smokes of Council rise — Pleasant smokes, ere yet ‘twixt trail and trail they choose — Now the girths and ropes are tested: now they pack their last supplies: Now our Young Men go to dance before the Trues! Who shall meet them at those altars — who shall light them to that shrine? Velvet-footed, who shall guide them to their goal? Unto each the voice and vision: unto each his spoor and sign — Lonely mountain in the Northland, misty sweat-bath ‘neath the Line — And to each a man that knows his naked soul! White or yellow, black or copper, he is waiting, as a lover, Smoke of funnel, dust of hooves, or beat of train — Where the high grass hides the horseman or the glaring flats discover — Where the steamer hails the landing, or the surf-boat brings the rover — Where the rails run out in sand-rift… Quick! ah, heave the camp-kit over, For the Red Gods make their medicine again!And we go — go — go away from here! On the other side the world we’re overdue! ‘Send the road is clear before you when the old Spring-fret comes o’er you, And the Red Gods call for you!

Kipling Friday

Certain Maxims Of Hafiz

                                I.
If It be pleasant to look on, stalled in the packed serai,
Does not the Young Man try Its temper and pace ere he buy?
If She be pleasant to look on, what does the Young Man say?
"Lo! She is pleasant to look on, give Her to me to-day!"

                                II.
Yea, though a Kafir die, to him is remitted Jehannum
If he borrowed in life from a native at sixty per cent. per anuum.

                                III.
Blister we not for bursati? So when the heart is vext,
The pain of one maiden's refusal is drowned in the pain of the next.

                                IV.
The temper of chums, the love of your wife, and a new piano's tune --
Which of the three will you trust at the end of an Indian June?

                                 V.
Who are the rulers of Ind -- to whom shall we bow the knee?
Make your peace with the women, and men will make you L. G.

                                 VI.
Does the woodpecker flit round the young ferash?
  Does grass clothe a new-built wall?
Is she under thirty, the woman who holds a boy in her thrall?

                                 VII.
If She grow suddenly gracious -- reflect. Is it all for thee?
The blackbuck is stalked through the bullock, and Man through jealousy.

                                 VIII.
Seek not for favours of women. So shall you find it indeed.
Does not the boar break cover just when you're lighting a weed?

                                  IX. 
If He play, being young and unskilful, for shekels of silver and gold,
Take His money, my son, praising Allah. The kid was ordained to be sold.

                                   X.
With a "weed" among men or horses verily this is the best,
That you work him in office or dog-cart lightly -- but give him no rest.

                                   XI.
Pleasant the snaffle of Courtship, improving the manners and carriage;
But the colt who is wise will abstain from the terrible thorn-bit of Marriage.

                                   XII.
As the thiftless gold of the babul, so is the gold that we spend
On a Derby Sweep, or our neighbour's wife, or the horse that we buy from a friend.

                                   XIII.
The ways of man with a maid be strange, yet simple and tame
To the ways of a man with a horse, when selling or racing that same.

                                    XIV.
In public Her face turneth to thee, and pleasant Her smile when ye meet.
It is ill. The cold rocks of El-Gidar smile thus on the waves at their feet.
In public Her face is averted; with anger She nameth thy name.
It is well. Was there ever a loser content with the loss of the game?

                                     XV.
If She have spoken a word, remember thy lips are sealed,
And the Brand of the Dog is upon him by whom is the secret revealed.
If She have written a letter, delay not an instant but burn it.
Tear it to pieces, O Fool, and the wind to her mate shall return it!
If there be trouble to Herward, and a lie of the blackest can clear,
Lie, while thy lips can move or a man is alive to hear.

                                     XVI. 
My Son, if a maiden deny thee and scufflingly bid thee give o'er,             
Yet lip meets with lip at the last word, get out!
  She has been there before.
They are pecked on the ear and the chin and the nose who are lacking in lore.

                                     XVII.
If we fall in the race, though we win, the hoof-slide is scarred on the course.
Though Allah and Earth pardon Sin, remaineth for ever Remorse.

                                     XVIII.
"By all I am misunderstood!" if the Matron shall say, or the Maid: --
"Alas! I do not understand," my son, be thou nowise afraid.
In vain in the sight of the Bird is the net of the Fowler displayed.

                                       XIX.
My son, if I, Hafiz, thy Father, take hold of thy knees in my pain,
Demanding thy name on stamped paper, one day or one hour -- refrain.
Are the links of thy fetters so light that thou cravest another man's chain?

Kipling Friday

Blue Roses

The Light that Failed


    Roses red and roses white
    Plucked I for my love's delight.
    She would none of all my posies--
    Bade me gather her blue roses.

    Half the world I wandered through,
    Seeking where such flowers grew.
    Half the world unto my quest
    Answered me with laugh and jest.

    Home I came at wintertide,
    But my silly love had died
    Seeking with her latest breath
    Roses from the arms of Death.

    It may be beyond the grave
    She shall find what she would have.
    Mine was but an idle quest--
    Roses white and red are best!

Call The Shots

My day job involves hunting submarines. It’s a highly scientific process that, like most Naval Warfare requires a healthy amount of wild ass guesses and improvisation because the real world rarely conforms to the neat formulas of the classroom and laboratory. The actual tracking and prosecution of a submarine by surface and air assets requires an entire team of watchstanders to operate the SONARs and interpret the data that they provide. My job is to form all of that information into single picture of the battlespace and then determine how to maneuver the ship in order to sink the submarine or at least defend other ships in the area.

As in most leadership positions, mine is largely an exercise in communication and decision-making.  The decision-making portion can be the most aggravating at times. Communication usually takes care of itself, but the processing of the vast amounts of data coming from all of the different pieces of the puzzle can be aggravating. Often times the data is contradictory or doesn’t fit the projected models neatly. And sometimes, my adversary does something completely unpredictable that doesn’t jive tactically. This causes frustration, just as all decision-making can.

But sometimes you have to stand back, look at everything in front of you, and then trust your gut because it’s your job to make decisions. In the Anti-Submarine Warfare world that requires focusing on the information you know, trying to make logical inferences based upon your understanding of your enemy’s tactics, and then doign something; anything. Theodore Roosevelt was famous for saying: “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

This holds true in all avenues of leadership. Your people look up to you for a decision. That’s the reason you were put on this earth, to provide them direction in moments of crisis, when their ability to chart a course of action fails them. It can maddeningly difficult at times, but you have to do it, and no amount of hand-wringing or garment-wrenching will save you from it. So simply put, make the decision, break that institutional inertia, and then make course corrections as necessary afterwards in order to achieve your end goals.

Kipling Friday

Bridge-Guard in the Karroo

               1901

 ". . . and will supply details to guard the Blood River Bridge."
 District Orders-Lines of Communication, South African War.
Sudden the desert changes,
  The raw glare softens and clings,
Till the aching Oudtshoorn ranges
  Stand up like the thrones of Kings --

Ramparts of slaughter and peril --
  Blazing, amazing, aglow --
'Twixt the sky-line's belting beryl
  And the wine-dark flats below.

Royal the pageant closes,
  Lit by the last of the sun --
Opal and ash-of-roses,
  Cinnamon, umber, and dun.

The twilight swallows the thicket,
  The starlight reveals the ridge.
The whistle shrills to the picket --
  We are changing guard on the bridge.

(Few, forgotten and lonely,
  Where the empty metals shine --
No, not combatants-only
  Details guarding the line.)

We slip through the broken panel
  Of fence by the ganger's shed;
We drop to the waterless channel
  And the lean track overhead;

We stumble on refuse of rations,
  The beef and the biscuit-tins;
We take our appointed stations,
  And the endless night begins.

We hear the Hottentot herders
  As the sheep click past to the fold --
And the click of the restless girders
  As the steel contracts in the cold --

Voices of jackals calling
  And, loud in the hush between,
A morsel of dry earth falling
  From the flanks of the scarred ravine.

And the solemn firmament marches,
  And the hosts of heaven rise
Framed through the iron arches --
  Banded and barred by the ties,

Till we feel the far track humming,
  And we see her headlight plain,
And we gather and wait her coming --
  The wonderful north-bound train.

(Few, forgotten and lonely,
  Where the white car-windows shine --
No, not combatants-only
  Details guarding the line.)

Quick, ere the gift escape us!
  Out of the darkness we reach
For a handful of week-old papers
  And a mouthful of human speech.

And the monstrous heaven rejoices,
  And the earth allows again,
Meetings, greetings, and voices
  Of women talking with men.

So we return to our places,
  As out on the bridge she rolls;
And the darkness covers our faces,
  And the darkness re-enters our souls.

More than a little lonely   
  Where the lessening tail-lights shine.
No - not combatants - only
  Details guarding the line!

Kipling Friday

“Back To the Army Again”

I'm 'ere in a ticky ulster an' a broken billycock 'at,
A-layin' on the sergeant I don't know a gun from a bat;
My shirt's doin' duty for jacket, my sock's stickin' out o' my boots,
An' I'm learnin' the damned old goose-step along o' the new recruits!

        Back to Army again, sergeant,
          Back to the Army again.
        Don't look so 'ard, for I 'aven't no card,
          I'm back to the Army again!

I done my six years' service. 'Er Majesty sez: "Good day --
You'll please to come when you're rung for, an' 'ere's your 'ole back-pay:
An' fourpence a day for baccy -- an' bloomin' gen'rous, too;
An' now you can make your fortune -- the same as your orf'cers do."

        Back to the Army again, sergeant,
          Back to the Army again.
        'Ow did I learn to do right-about-turn?
          I'm back to the Army again!

A man o' four-an'-twenty that 'asn't learned of a trade --
Beside "Reserve" agin' him -- 'e'd better be never made.
I tried my luck for a quarter, an' that was enough for me,
An' I thought of 'Er Majesty's barricks, an' I thought I'd go an' see.

        Back to the Army again, sergeant,
          Back to the Army again.
        'Tisn't my fault if I dress when I 'alt --
          I'm back to the Army again!

The sergeant arst no questions, but 'e winked the other eye,
'E sez to me, " 'Shun!" an' I shunted, the same as in days gone by;
For 'e saw the set o' my shoulders, an' I couldn't 'elp 'oldin' straight
When me an' the other rookies come under the barrik-gate.

        Back to the Army again, sergeant,
          Back to the Army again.
        'Oo would ha' thought I could carry an' port?
          I'm back to the Army again!

I took my bath, an' I wallered -- for, Gawd, I needed it so!
I smelt the smell o' the barricks, I 'eard the bugles go.
I 'eard the feet on the gravel -- the feet o' the men what drill --
An' I sez to my flutterin' 'eart-strings, I sez to 'em, "Peace, be still!"

        Back to the Army again, sergeant,
          Back to the Army again.
        'Oo said I knew when the troopship was due?
          I'm back to the Army again!

I carried my slops to the tailor; I sez to 'im, "None o' your lip!
You tight 'em over the shoulders, an' loose 'em over the 'ip,
For the set o' the tunic's 'orrid." An' 'e sez to me, "Strike me dead,
But I thought you was used to the business!" an' so 'e done what I said.

        Back to the Army again, sergeant,
          Back to the Army again.
        Rather too free with my fancies? Wot -- me?
          I'm back to the Army again!

Next week I'll 'ave 'em fitted; I'll buy me a swagger-cane;
They'll let me free o' the barricks to walk on the Hoe again,
In the name o' William Parsons, that used to be Edward Clay,
An' -- any pore beggar that wants it can draw my fourpence a day!

        Back to the Army again, sergeant,
          Back to the Army again.
        Out o' the cold an' the rain, sergeant,
          Out o' the cold an' the rain.
                        'Oo's there?

A man that's too good to be lost you,
  A man that is 'andled an' made --
A man that will pay what 'e cost you
  In learnin' the others their trade -- parade!
You're droppin' the pick o' the Army
  Because you don't 'elp 'em remain,
But drives 'em to cheat to get out o' the street
  An' back to the Army again!