The Fires

(Prelude to Collected Verse)

Rudyard Kipling

MEN make them fires on the hearth
    Each under his roof-tree, fond the
Four Winds that rule the earth
    They blow the smoke to me.

Across the high hills and the sea
    And all the changeful skies,
The Four Winds blow the smoke to me
    Till the tears are in my eyes.

Until the tears are in my eyes
    And my heart is wellnigh broke
For thinking on old memories
    That gather in the smoke.

With every shift of every wind
    The homesick memories come,
From every quarter of mankind
    Where I have made me a home.

Four times afire against the cold
    And a roof against the rain—
Sorrow fourfold and joy fourfold
    The Four Winds bring again!

How can I answer which is best
    Of all the fires that burn?
I have been too often host or guest
    At every fire in turn.

How can I turn from any fire,
    On any man’s hearthstone?
I know the wonder and desire
    That went to build my own!

How can I doubt man’s joy or woe
    Where’er his house-fires shine,
Since all that man must undergo
    Will visit me at mine?

Oh, you Four Winds that blow so strong
    And know that this is true,
Stoopfor a little and carry my song
    To all the men I knew!

Where there are fires against the cold,
    Or roofs against the rain
With love fourfold and joy fourfold,
    Take them my songs again!

Back    |    Words Home    |    Kipling Home    |    Site Info.    |    Feedback