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History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network

The Deep-Sea Cables
by Rudyard Kipling

Title illustration

Kipling's poem The Deep-Sea Cables was originally published in 1896 by Methuen & Co. in "The Seven Seas", where it was one of seven poems in a section titled A Song of the English. This edition had no illustrations.

A separate edition of "A Song of the English", extracted from "The Seven Seas" and lavishly illustrated by W. Heath Robinson, was published in 1909 by Hodder & Stoughton in London and Doubleday, Page & Company in New York. The images shown here are from this edition; colour plate scans are courtesy of the now-defunct Golden Age Comic Book blog [archive link], and all the colour illustrations from the book are currently viewable at the Comics Book Stories blog.


The Deep-Sea Cables
The wrecks dissolve above us; their dust drops down from afar—
Down to the dark, to the utter dark, where the blind white sea-snakes are.
There is no sound, no echo of sound, in the deserts of the deep,
Or the great grey level plains of ooze where the shell-burred cables creep.

XIV: The Wrecks Dissolve Above Us

Here in the womb of the world— here on the tie-ribs of earth
Words, and the words of men, flicker and flutter and beat—
Warning, sorrow and gain, salutation and mirth—
For a Power troubles the Still that has neither voice nor feet.

XV: In the Womb of the World

They have wakened the timeless Things; they have killed their father Time;
Joining hands in the gloom, a league from the last of the sun.
Hush! Men talk to-day o’er the waste of the ultimate slime,
And a new Word runs between: whispering, ‘Let us be one!’


Last revised: 27 January, 2019

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