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But in a little time we shall run out of the portholes as the water runs along the oarblade, and though you tell the others to row after us, you will never catch us till you catch the oar-thresh and tie up the winds in the belly of the sail. Aho! Will you never let us go?"
"H'm. What's oar-thresh, Charlie?"
"The water washed up by the oars. That's the sort of song they might sing in the galley, y'know.

This is from “The Finest Story of the World” by Kipling.
I don’t understand the meaning below. Would you kindly teach me?

and though you tell the others to row after us you will never catch us till you catch the oar-thresh and tie up the winds in the belly of the sail.

  • What particular part is unclear? Please don't say all of it. For instance, can and though you tell the others to row after us you will never catch us be removed from what you don't understand? If so, that would cut out about half of what needs to be analyzed. – Jason Bassford Jun 15 at 8:17
  • Thank you so much! But That is the very part I can not understand. I understand it literally but not visually.What does it mean "row after us" and "catch us" on the galley the water is pouring. I apologize my question is so obscure. kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_galley.htm – Hiroshi Inagaki Jun 15 at 22:37
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This is written in a style and vocabulary from a previous century, which is why it's hard to understand.

and though you tell the others to row after us you will never catch us

'Though' means 'even though'. 'Row after us' is like 'run after us'. It means to row behind us, following us and trying to catch us. He's saying that even if you try to catch us you won't be able to. I don't know who 'the others' are, but they are obviously the people rowing.

till you catch the oar-thresh and tie up the winds in the belly of the sail

'Til' means 'until'. The 'oar-thresh' is the disturbance in the water when the oars are pulled. If you tried to collect it or catch it you wouldn't be able to because it would just be water without the disturbance. The 'belly of the sail' is the part where the sail bulges because of the wind. You also can't tie up the winds in the belly of the sail because if you wrapped the sail around the wind it would just be air. It wouldn't be wind any longer. These two things are impossible to do.

The gist of it is that you won't catch us until you're able to do these impossible things, which is never.

  • dwilli, thank you so much for your detailed answer! It is so helpful.I have clearly understand the meaning of the line! – Hiroshi Inagaki Jun 16 at 6:49

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