Again the big gong beat, and a second time there was the rushing of naked feet on earth and ringing iron; the clatter of tools ceased. In the silence, men heard the dry yawn of water crawling over thirsty sand.”

This is from "The Bridge Builders" by Rudyard Kipling.

I don't understand the meaning of
the dry yawn of water

I am glad if someone would kindly teach me.

  • 1
    It does not really make sense to me either. From the context, I think they hear the sound of water flowing over dry sand in the distance. But it is not clear to me why Kipling refers to this as a "dry yawn of water."
    – mkeith
    Commented Sep 18, 2022 at 3:53
  • @DrMoishePippik why don't you write an answer then?
    – Esther
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 20:54

1 Answer 1


Yawn has multiple meanings, most stemming from the idea of opening, or gaping wide.

  • Lovecraft: "a new abyss yawned indefinitely below the seat of the blast..."
  • Heller: "There are yawning gulfs into which large chunks of me have fallen."
  • thank you very much foryour kind and clear answer! I understand the meanig of "yawn" as a metaphor. Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 1:49

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