The English Flag - Rudyard Kipling
remained fluttering in the flames for some time, but ultimately
when it fell the crowds rent the air with shouts,
and seemed to see significance in the incident. — DAILY PAPERS.
Winds of the World, give answer! They are whimpering to and fro —
And what should they know of England who only England know? —
The poor little street-bred people that vapour and fume and brag,
They are lifting their heads in the stillness to yelp at the English Flag!
Must we borrow a clout from the Boer — to plaster anew with dirt?
An Irish liar’s bandage, or an English coward’s shirt?
We may not speak of England; her Flag’s to sell or share.
What is the Flag of England? Winds of the World, declare!
The North Wind blew: — “From Bergen my steel-shod vanguards go;
I chase your lazy whalers home from the Disko floe;
By the great North Lights above me I work the will of God,
And the liner splits on the ice-field or the Dogger fills with cod.
“I barred my gates with iron, I shuttered my doors with flame,
Because to force my ramparts your nutshell navies came;
I took the sun from their presence, I cut them down with my blast,
And they died, but the Flag of England blew free ere the spirit passed.
“The lean white bear hath seen it in the long, long Arctic night,
The musk-ox knows the standard that flouts the Northern Light:
What is the Flag of England? Ye have but my bergs to dare,
Ye have but my drifts to conquer. Go forth, for it is there!”
The South Wind sighed: — “From the Virgins my mid-sea course was ta’en
Over a thousand islands lost in an idle main,
Where the sea-egg flames on the coral and the long-backed breakers croon
Their endless ocean legends to the lazy, locked lagoon.
“Strayed amid lonely islets, mazed amid outer keys,
I waked the palms to laughter — I tossed the scud in the breeze —
Never was isle so little, never was sea so lone,
But over the scud and the palm-trees an English flag was flown.
“I have wrenched it free from the halliard to hang for a wisp on the Horn;
I have chased it north to the Lizard — ribboned and rolled and torn;
I have spread its fold o’er the dying, adrift in a hopeless sea;
I have hurled it swift on the slaver, and seen the slave set free.
“My basking sunfish know it, and wheeling albatross,
Where the lone wave fills with fire beneath the Southern Cross.
What is the Flag of England? Ye have but my reefs to dare,
Ye have but my seas to furrow. Go forth, for it is there!”
The East Wind roared: — “From the Kuriles, the Bitter Seas, I come,
And me men call the Home-Wind, for I bring the English home.
Look — look well to your shipping! By the breath of my mad typhoon
I swept your close-packed Praya and beached your best at Kowloon!
“The reeling junks behind me and the racing seas before,
I raped your richest roadstead — I plundered Singapore!
I set my hand on the Hoogli; as a hooded snake she rose,
And I flung your stoutest steamers to roost with the startled crows.
“Never the lotus closes, never the wild-fowl wake,
But a soul goes out on the East Wind that died for England’s sake —
Man or woman or suckling, mother or bride or maid —
Because on the bones of the English the English Flag is stayed.
“The desert-dust hath dimmed it, the flying wild-ass knows,
The scared white leopard winds it across the taintless snows.
What is the Flag of England? Ye have but my sun to dare,
Ye have but my sands to travel. Go forth, for it is there!”
The West Wind called: — “In squadrons the thoughtless galleons fly
That bear the wheat and cattle lest street-bred people die.
They make my might their porter, they make my house their path,
Till I loose my neck from their rudder and whelm them all in my wrath.
“I draw the gliding fog-bank as a snake is drawn from the hole,
They bellow one to the other, the frighted ship-bells toll,
For day is a drifting terror till I raise the shroud with my breath,
And they see strange bows above them and the two go locked to death.
“But whether in calm or wrack-wreath, whether by dark or day,
I heave them whole to the conger or rip their plates away,
First of the scattered legions, under a shrieking sky,
Dipping between the rollers, the English Flag goes by.
“The dead dumb fog hath wrapped it — the frozen dews have kissed —
The naked stars have seen it, a fellow-star in the mist.
What is the Flag of England? Ye have but my breath to dare,
Ye have but my waves to conquer. Go forth, for it is there!”
Lament of the Mola - Tierney Thys
In Monterey Bay,
There’s a fish that some say
Lies flat on its side like a raft
And strange though it be
You should all come to see
This fish with a fore but no aft.
The trip to the bay
Is often one way,
For this fish meets a terrible plight.
It’s hurled through the air
Launched by sea lions unfair,
Who rip off its fins with delight.
A hideous sight,
It puts up a fight
And tries to escape with a flap.
More often than not,
It’s easily caught
And seagulls move in for the scrap.
So if ever you glance
At this fish just by chance,
Please wish to it all of your best.
For though it is cute
The point, it is moot,
Its life in this bay is not blessed.
Mola mola - Julie Fiedler
My first sight came
when it appeared on the surging horizon
a small upright sail,
a fin lighter grey
than the leaden water,
darker than the gutted battleship of sky
overturned to cover us.
The point was too blunt,
not a shark but
a lost rudder rolled skyward
that did not go back underwater
for breath or direction.
My parents already knew—
Mola mola, order Plectognathi,
It was easy to approach,
a bookmark jutting from the ocean,
but harder to grasp—
a shiny, fiberglass keel
flaring down beneath the surface
to a seven-foot disk of dolphin flesh:
no tail, just a rounded fringy skin skirt,
two side fins like frozen oars.
Only one eye gazed up at me,
white, a grey iris, a black 8-ball pupil
lost in a pocket,
the mouth a wan, rubber-lipped O.
My father, capable of puncturing small
sharks until they spun homeward
trailing clouds of blood and milk,
of beheading puffins huddled
alongside his boat for bait,
of braining flounders
with his stainless revolver,
wanted no part of this monster—
it might come alive,
sunfish on his deck,
bash the boat to bits
and abandon him to the deep.
But its eye, gazing up,
my eye, knew otherwise.
it was a vehicle, a submarine,
upright in the deepest seas
rolling like a silver dollar
with finny spokes,
an underwater crystal ball of sight.
Bright minnows skirt us,
chain reactions of krill waver aside,
the universe shifts with our movement.
We live invisibly, wait
to bask in the sun,
to see the world transformed.
our eyes had strained for a lifetime to see light.
I was ready to change boats in midstream:
scramble aboard that rubber raft,
grip the stunted sail,
my wakened body
joined to its floating head,
until my parent’s skulls
were an umlaut
on the horizon.