En-Dor

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En-Dor
by Rudyard Kipling
First published in The Years Between (1919).


“Behold there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at En-dor.”
                                                                   I Samuel, xxviii. 7.

The road to En-dor is easy to tread
    For Mother or yearning Wife.
There, it is sure, we shall meet our Dead
    As they were even in life.
Earth has not dreamed of the blessing in store
For desolate hearts on the road to En-dor.
Whispers shall comfort us out of the dark—
    Hands—ah God!—that we knew!
Visions and voices—look and hark!—
    Shall prove that the tale is true,
And that those who have passed to the further shore
May be hailed—at a price—on the road to En-dor.

But they are so deep in their new eclipse
    Nothing they say can reach,
Unless it be uttered by alien lips
    And framed in a stranger’s speech.
The son must send word to the mother that bore,
Through an hireling’s mouth. ’Tis the rule of En-dor.

And not for nothing these gifts are shown
    By such as delight our dead.
They must twitch and stiffen and slaver and groan
    Ere the eyes are set in the head,
And the voice from the belly begins. Therefore,
We pay them a wage where they ply at En-dor.

Even so, we have need off faith
    And patience to follow the clue.
Often, at first, what the dear one saith
    Is babble, or jest, or untrue.
(Lying spirits perplex us sore
Till our loves—and their lives—are well-known at En-dor . . . .

Oh the road to En-dor is the oldest road
    And the craziest road of all!
Straight it runs to the Witch’s abode,
    As it did in the days of Saul,
And nothing has changed of the sorrow in store
For such as go down on the road to En-dor!


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1936, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 75 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.