Page:Departmental Ditties and Ballads and Barrack-Room Ballads, Kipling, 1899.djvu/161

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147
THE GALLEY-SLAVE

As we snatched her through the water, so we snatched a minute's bliss,
And the mutter of the dying never spoiled the lovers' kiss.


Our women and our children toiled beside us in the dark—
They died, we filed their fetters, and we heaved them to the shark—
We heaved them to the fishes, but so fast the galley sped
We had only time to envy, for we could not mourn our dead.


Bear witness, once my comrades, what a hard-bit gang were we—
The servants of the sweep-head but the masters of the sea!
By the hands that drove her forward as she plunged and yawed and sheered,
Woman, Man, or God or Devil, was there anything we feared?


Was it storm? Our fathers faced it and a wilder never blew;