I tell this tale, which is stricter true, (25)
Just by way of convincing you
How very little, since things was made,
Things have altered in the shipwright’s trade.

In Blackwall Basin yesterday
A China barque re-fitting lay; (30)
When a fat old man with snow-white hair
Came up to watch us working there.

Now there wasn’t a knot which the riggers knew
But the old man made it---and better too;
Nor there wasn’t a sheet, or a lift, or a brace, (35)
But the old man knew its lead and place.

This is a poem by Kipling.

I do not understand what the last line means.

But the old man knew its lead and place.

What does it mean?

I am glad if some one kindly would teach me.


1 Answer 1


Place is not a specifically nautical usage; it's merely the rope's proper location for the function it serves.

Lead is a nautical term meaning the rope's direction and the path along which it extends. On a complicated sailing vessel with scores of ropes, making each rope follow a lead which would not interfere with other elements of the rigging could be very tricky matter, involving the careful placement of standard and custom-built tackle.


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