The North Sea Patrol


Rudyard Kipling

WHERE the East wind is brewed fresh and fresh every morning,
    And the balmy night-breezes blow straight from the Pole,
I heard a Destroyer sing: “What an enjoya-
    ble life does one lead on the North Sea Patrol!

“To blow things to bits is our business (and Fritz’s),
    Which means there are mine-fields wherever you stroll.
Unless you’ve particular wish to die quick, you’ll a-
    void steering close to the North Sea Patrol.”

“We warn from disaster the mercantile master
    Who takes in high Dudgeon our life-saving rôle,
For every one’s grousing at Docking and Dowsing
    The marks and the lights on the North Sea Patrol.”

[Twelve verses omitted.] 1

So swept but surviving, half drowned but still driving,
    I watched her head out through the swell off the shoal,
And I heard her propellers roar: “Write to poor fellers
    Who run such a Hell as the North Sea Patrol!”

1. “In the poem in pamphlet VI (later titled ‘North Sea Patrol’) the phrase (‘Twelve verses omitted’) appears between the third and fourth stanzas, and this line is repeated in the verses’ reprinting in the later collected editions. Responding to Flora Livingston’s query about this on 13 December 1944, Kipling’s literary agent A.P. Watt quoted a letter received from Thomas Mark of Macmillan & Co., who was sure “the insertion of the (‘Twelve verses omitted’) in ‘THE NORTH SEA PATROL’ was only a little joke of Kipling’s to indicate that it would, of course, take a very lengthy poem to give any idea of the dangers and tribulations incurred by the patrol.”
— “Rudyard Kipling, A Bibliography”, D.A. Richards, to be published by Oak Knoll Press in 2005. (with permission)

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