The Bell Buoy (comparison)

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The Bell Buoy
by Rudyard Kipling
McClure's edition (1897) Inclusive Verse edition (1919)

They christened my brother of old,
  And a saintly name he bears;
They gave him his place to hold
  At the head of the belfry stairs,
  Where the minister-towers stand
And the breeding kestrels cry.
  Would I change with my brother a league inland?
(Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I.

In the flush of the hot June prime,
  O'er sleek flood-tides afire,
I hear him hurry the chime
  To the bidding of checked Desire,
  Till the sweated ringers tire
And the wild bob-majors die.
  Could I wait for my turn in the pimping choir?
(Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I.

When the smoking scud is blown,
  When the greasy wind-rack lowers,
Apart and at peace and alone,
  He counts the changeless hours.
  He wars with darkling towers;
I war with a darkling sea.
  Would he stoop to my work in the gusty mirk?
(Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not he.

There was never a priest to pray,
  There was never a hand to toll,
When they made me guard o' the bay
  And moored me over the shoal.
I rock and I reel and I roll;
My four great hammers ply.
  Could I speak or be still at the Church's will?
(Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I.

The landward marks have failed,
  The fog-bank glides unguessed,
The seaward lights are veiled,
  The spent deep feigns her rest;
  But my ear is laid to her breast,
I lift to the swell, I cry.
  Could I wait in sloth on the Church's oath?
(Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I.

At the careless end of night
  I thrill to the nearing screw,
I turn in the nearing light,
  And I call to the drowsy crew;
  And the mud boils foul and blue
As the blind bow backs away.
  Do they give me their thanks if they clear the banks?
(Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not they.

The beach-pools cake and skim,
  The bursting spray-heads freeze;
I gather on crown and rim
  The grey grained ice of the seas,
  Where, sheathed from bitt to trees,
The plunging colliers lie.
  Would I barter my place for the Church's grace?
(Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I.

Through the blurr of the whirling snow,
  Or the black of the inky sleet,
The lanterns gather and grow,
  And I look for the homeward fleet.
  Rattle of block and sheet—
Ready about! Stand by!
  Shall I ask them a fee that they fetch the quay?
(Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I.

I dip and I surge and I swing,
  In the rip of the racing tide;
By the gates of doom I sing;
  On the horns of death I ride.
  A ship-length overside
Between the course and the sand,
  Fretted and bound I bide;
  Peril whereof I cry.
Would I change with my brother a league inland?
(Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I.

They christened my brother of old--
     And a saintly name he bears--
They gave him his place to hold
  At the head of the belfry-stairs,
  Where the minister-towers stand
And the breeding kestrels cry.
  Would I change with my brother a league inland?
(Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I!

In the flush of the hot June prime,
  O'er sleek flood-tides afire,
I hear him hurry the chime
  To the bidding of checked Desire;
  Till the sweated ringers tire
And the wild bob-majors die.
  Could I wait for my turn in the godly choir?[1]
(Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I!

When the smoking scud is blown--
  When the greasy wind-rack lowers--
Apart and at peace and alone,
  He counts the changeless hours.
  He wars with darkling Powers[2]
(I war with a darkling sea);
  Would he stoop to my work in the gusty mirk?
(Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not he!

There was never a priest to pray
  There was never a hand to toll,
When they made me guard of the bay,
  And moored me over the shoal.
I rock, I reel, and I roll--
My four great hammers ply--
 Could I speak or be still at the Church's will?
(Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I!

The landward marks have failed,
  The fog-bank glides unguessed,
The seaward lights are veiled,
  The spent deep feigns her rest:
  But my ear is laid to her breast,
I lift to the swell--I cry!
  Could I wait in sloth on the Church's oath?
(Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I!

At the careless end of night
  I thrill to the nearing screw;
I turn in the clearing light[3]
  And I call to the drowsy crew;
  And the mud boils foul and blue
As the blind bow backs away.
  Will they give me their thanks if they clear the banks?
(Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not they!

The beach-pools cake and skim,
  The bursting spray-heads freeze,
I gather on crown and rim
  The grey, grained ice of the seas,
  Where, sheathed from bitt to trees,
The plunging colliers lie.
  Would I barter my place for the Church's grace?
(Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I!

Through the blur of the whirling snow,[4]
  Or the black of the inky sleet,
The lanterns gather and grow,
  And I look for the homeward fleet.
  Rattle of block and sheet--
"Ready about-stand by!"
  Shall I ask them a fee ere they fetch the quay?
(Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I!

I dip and I surge and I swing
  In the rip of the racing tide,
By the gates of doom I sing,
  On the horns of death I ride.
  A ship-length overside,
Between the course and the sand,
  Fretted and bound I bide
        Peril whereof I cry.
Would I change with my brother a league inland?
(Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I!


Textual comparison
  1. "pimping choir" became "godly choir"
  2. "darkling towers" became "darkling Powers"
  3. "nearing light" became "clearing light"
  4. "blurr" became "blur"


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.