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Posts Tagged ‘Rudyard Kipling’

Thus said The Lord in the Vault above the Cherubim
Calling to the Angels and the Souls in their degree:
“Lo! Earth has passed away
On the smoke of Judgment Day.
That Our word may be established shall We gather up the sea?”

Loud sang the souls of the jolly, jolly mariners:
“Plague upon the hurricane that made us furl and flee!
But the war is done between us,
In the deep the Lord hath seen us —
Our bones we’ll leave the barracout’, and God may sink the sea!”

Then said the soul of Judas that betrayed Him:
“Lord, hast Thou forgotten Thy covenant with me?
How once a year I go
To cool me on the floe?
And Ye take my day of mercy if Ye take away the sea!”

Then said the soul of the Angel of the Off-shore Wind:
(He that bits the thunder when the bull-mouthed breakers flee):
“I have watch and ward to keep
O’er Thy wonders on the deep,
And Ye take mine honour from me if Ye take away the sea!”

Loud sang the souls of the jolly, jolly mariners:
“Nay, but we were angry, and a hasty folk are we!
If we worked the ship together
Till she foundered in foul weather,
Are we babes that we should clamour for a vengeance on the sea?”

Then said the souls of the slaves that men threw overboard:
“Kennelled in the picaroon a weary band were we;
But Thy arm was strong to save,
And it touched us on the wave,
And we drowsed the long tides idle till Thy Trumpets tore the sea.”

Then cried the soul of the stout Apostle Paul to God:
“Once we frapped a ship, and she laboured woundily.
There were fourteen score of these,
And they blessed Thee on their knees,
When they learned Thy Grace and Glory under Malta by the sea!”

Loud sang the souls of the jolly, jolly mariners,
Plucking at their harps, and they plucked unhandily:
“Our thumbs are rough and tarred,
And the tune is something hard —
May we lift a Deep-sea Chantey such as seamen use at sea?”

Then said the souls of the gentlemen-adventurers —
Fettered wrist to bar all for red iniquity:
“Ho, we revel in our chains
O’er the sorrow that was Spain’s;
Heave or sink it, leave or drink it, we were masters of the sea!”

Up spake the soul of a gray Gothavn ‘speckshioner —
(He that led the flinching in the fleets of fair Dundee):
“Oh, the ice-blink white and near,
And the bowhead breaching clear!
Will Ye whelm them all for wantonness that wallow in the sea?”

Loud sang the souls of the jolly, jolly mariners,
Crying: “Under Heaven, here is neither lead nor lee!
Must we sing for evermore
On the windless, glassy floor?
Take back your golden fiddles and we’ll beat to open sea!”

Then stooped the Lord, and He called the good sea up to Him,
And ‘stablished his borders unto all eternity,
That such as have no pleasure
For to praise the Lord by measure,
They may enter into galleons and serve Him on the sea.

Sun, wind, and cloud shall fail not from the face of it,
Stinging, ringing spindrift, nor the fulmar flying free;
And the ships shall go abroad
To the Glory of the Lord
Who heard the silly sailor-folk and gave them back their sea!

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Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face,
tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!

Kamal is out with twenty men to raise the Border-side,
And he has lifted the Colonel’s mare that is the Colonel’s pride:
He has lifted her out of the stable-door between the dawn and the day,
And turned the calkins upon her feet, and ridden her far away.
Then up and spoke the Colonel’s son that led a troop of the Guides:
“Is there never a man of all my men can say where Kamal hides?”
Then up and spoke Mahommed Khan, the son of the Ressaldar:
“If ye know the track of the morning-mist, ye know where his pickets are.
At dusk he harries the Abazai — at dawn he is into Bonair,
But he must go by Fort Bukloh to his own place to fare,
So if ye gallop to Fort Bukloh as fast as a bird can fly,
By the favour of God ye may cut him off ere he win to the Tongue of Jagai.
But if he be past the Tongue of Jagai, right swiftly turn ye then,
For the length and the breadth of that grisly plain is sown with Kamal’s men.
There is rock to the left, and rock to the right, and low lean thorn between,
And ye may hear a breech-bolt snick where never a man is seen.”
The Colonel’s son has taken a horse, and a raw rough dun was he,
With the mouth of a bell and the heart of Hell and the head of the gallows-tree.
The Colonel’s son to the Fort has won, they bid him stay to eat —
Who rides at the tail of a Border thief, he sits not long at his meat.
He’s up and away from Fort Bukloh as fast as he can fly,
Till he was aware of his father’s mare in the gut of the Tongue of Jagai,
Till he was aware of his father’s mare with Kamal upon her back,
And when he could spy the white of her eye, he made the pistol crack.
He has fired once, he has fired twice, but the whistling ball went wide.
“Ye shoot like a soldier,” Kamal said. “Show now if ye can ride.”
It’s up and over the Tongue of Jagai, as blown dustdevils go,
The dun he fled like a stag of ten, but the mare like a barren doe.
The dun he leaned against the bit and slugged his head above,
But the red mare played with the snaffle-bars, as a maiden plays with a glove.
There was rock to the left and rock to the right, and low lean thorn between,
And thrice he heard a breech-bolt snick tho’ never a man was seen.
They have ridden the low moon out of the sky, their hoofs drum up the dawn,
The dun he went like a wounded bull, but the mare like a new-roused fawn.
The dun he fell at a water-course — in a woful heap fell he,
And Kamal has turned the red mare back, and pulled the rider free.
He has knocked the pistol out of his hand — small room was there to strive,
“‘Twas only by favour of mine,” quoth he, “ye rode so long alive:
There was not a rock for twenty mile, there was not a clump of tree,
But covered a man of my own men with his rifle cocked on his knee.
If I had raised my bridle-hand, as I have held it low,
The little jackals that flee so fast were feasting all in a row:
If I had bowed my head on my breast, as I have held it high,
The kite that whistles above us now were gorged till she could not fly.”
Lightly answered the Colonel’s son: “Do good to bird and beast,
But count who come for the broken meats before thou makest a feast.
If there should follow a thousand swords to carry my bones away,
Belike the price of a jackal’s meal were more than a thief could pay.
They will feed their horse on the standing crop, their men on the garnered grain,
The thatch of the byres will serve their fires when all the cattle are slain.
But if thou thinkest the price be fair, — thy brethren wait to sup,
The hound is kin to the jackal-spawn, — howl, dog, and call them up!
And if thou thinkest the price be high, in steer and gear and stack,
Give me my father’s mare again, and I’ll fight my own way back!”
Kamal has gripped him by the hand and set him upon his feet.
“No talk shall be of dogs,” said he, “when wolf and gray wolf meet.
May I eat dirt if thou hast hurt of me in deed or breath;
What dam of lances brought thee forth to jest at the dawn with Death?”
Lightly answered the Colonel’s son: “I hold by the blood of my clan:
Take up the mare for my father’s gift — by God, she has carried a man!”
The red mare ran to the Colonel’s son, and nuzzled against his breast;
“We be two strong men,” said Kamal then, “but she loveth the younger best.
So she shall go with a lifter’s dower, my turquoise-studded rein,
My broidered saddle and saddle-cloth, and silver stirrups twain.”
The Colonel’s son a pistol drew and held it muzzle-end,
“Ye have taken the one from a foe,” said he; “will ye take the mate from a friend?”
“A gift for a gift,” said Kamal straight; “a limb for the risk of a limb.
Thy father has sent his son to me, I’ll send my son to him!”
With that he whistled his only son, that dropped from a mountain-crest —
He trod the ling like a buck in spring, and he looked like a lance in rest.
“Now here is thy master,” Kamal said, “who leads a troop of the Guides,
And thou must ride at his left side as shield on shoulder rides.
Till Death or I cut loose the tie, at camp and board and bed,
Thy life is his — thy fate it is to guard him with thy head.
So, thou must eat the White Queen’s meat, and all her foes are thine,
And thou must harry thy father’s hold for the peace of the Border-line,
And thou must make a trooper tough and hack thy way to power —
Belike they will raise thee to Ressaldar when I am hanged in Peshawur.”

They have looked each other between the eyes, and there they found no fault,
They have taken the Oath of the Brother-in-Blood on leavened bread and salt:
They have taken the Oath of the Brother-in-Blood on fire and fresh-cut sod,
On the hilt and the haft of the Khyber knife, and the Wondrous Names of God.
The Colonel’s son he rides the mare and Kamal’s boy the dun,
And two have come back to Fort Bukloh where there went forth but one.
And when they drew to the Quarter-Guard, full twenty swords flew clear —
There was not a man but carried his feud with the blood of the mountaineer.
“Ha’ done! ha’ done!” said the Colonel’s son.  “Put up the steel at your sides!
Last night ye had struck at a Border thief –to-night ’tis a man of the Guides!”

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!

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nrcQGOi

When moderns say that rhythm’s passed,
And rhyming verse is trite,
What would the great Longfellow say
About that arrow’s flight?

Such talk is like an acid rain
That falls on Dickinson,
And kills her bees and Kilmer’s trees;
Coats Kipling’s dawning sun.

That dart is thrown at Shakespeare, too
And all the masters past
By men who pose as poets when
It’s prose their work is classed.

And so I’ll stand as close I can
To Byron, Coleridge, Keats
I’ll hold their hats or open doors
Or drive them through the streets.

And I’ll not care when prose lines up
In stanzas in pretense,
Or critics cough or prosers scorn
And publishers fold tents.

I cannot ever bothered be
When men my verse oppose.
They praise the naked emperor,
And criticize my clothes.

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photo by Jay Simmons at
http://www.rgbstock.com/photo/nrcQGOi/landscape

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© Dennis Allen Lange and thebardonthehill.wordpress.com, 2018.

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mjQp1Bo


(with apologies to Rudyard Kipling)

If you can keep your leaves when all about you
Are losing theirs, though you be doubting too;
If you can trust yourself through their disaster
And hold yours fast while theirs are falling faster;
If you’ll just wait and not be tired of waiting,
Endure the Fall and Winter’s cold berating,
Then in the end the world will see you’ve won –
They’ll know that you’re an evergreen, my son.

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photo by Scott Liddell at
http://www.rgbstock.com/photo/mjQp1Bo/Autumn+Avenue

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© Dennis Allen Lange and thebardonthehill.wordpress.com, 2017.

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………………….(infantry column)

We’re foot-slog-slog-slog-sloggin’ over Africa
Foot-foot-foot-foot-sloggin’ over Africa –
(Boots-boots-boots-boots-movin’ up and down again!)
……..There’s no discharge in the war! 

Seven-six-eleven-five-nine-an’-twenty mile to-day –
Four-eleven-seventeen-thirty-two the day before –
(Boots-boots-boots-boots-movin’ up an’ down again!)
……..There’s no discharge in the war! 

Don’t-don’t-don’t-don’t-look at what’s in front of you.
(Boots-boots-boots-boots-movn’ up an’ down again),
Men-men-men-men-men go mad with watchin’ ’em,
……..An’ there’s no discharge in the war! 

Try-try-try-try-to think o’ something different –
Oh-my-God-keep-me from goin’ lunatic!
(Boots-boots-boots-boots-movin’ up and down again!)
……..There’s no discharge in the war! 

Count-count-count-count-the bullets in the bandoliers.
If-your-eyes-drop-they will get atop o’ you.
(Boots-boots-boots-boots-movin’ up and down again) –
……..An’ there’s no discharge in the war! 

We-can-stick-out-‘unger, thirst, an’ weariness,
But-not-not-not-not the chronic sight of ’em –
Boots-boots-boots-boots-movin’ up an’ down again,
……..An’ there’s no discharge in the war! 

Tain’t-so-bad-by-day because o’ company,
But-night-brings-long-strings-o’ forty thousand million
Boots-boots-boots-boots-movin’ up and down again.
……..There’s no discharge in the war! 

I-‘ave-marched-six-weeks in ‘Ell an’ certify
It-is-not-fire-devils-dark or anything,
But boots-boots-boots-boots-movin’ up and down again,
……..An’ there’s no discharge in the war!

 

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………………………Danny Deever

“What are the bugles blowin’ for?” said Files-on-Parade.
“To turn you out, to turn you out,” the Color-Sergeant said.
“What makes you look so white, so white?” said Files-on-Parade.
“I’m dreadin’ what I’ve got to watch,” the Color-Sergeant said.
For they’re hangin’ Danny Deever, you can hear the Dead March play,
The regiment’s in ‘ollow square – they’re hangin’ him today.
They’ve taken of his buttons off an’ cut his stripes away,
An they’re hangin’ Danny Deever in the mornin’.

“What makes the rear rank breathe so ‘ard?” said Files-on-Parade.
“It’s bitter cold, it’s bitter cold,” the Color-Sergeant said.
“What makes that front-rank man fall down?” said Files-on-Parade.
“A touch o’ sun, a touch o’ sun,” the Color-Sergeant said.
They are hangin’ Danny Deever, they are marchin’ of ‘im round,
They ‘ave ‘alted Danny Deever by ‘is coffin on the ground;
An’ e’ll swing in ‘arf a minute for a sneakin’ shootin’ hound –
O they’re hangin’ Danny Deever in the morning’!

“’Is cot was right-‘and cot to mine,” said Files-on-Parade.
“E’s sleepin’ out an’ far tonight,” the Color-Sergeant said.
“I’ve drunk ‘is beer a score o’ times,” said Files-on-Parade.
“’E’s drinkin’ bitter beer alone,” the Color-Sergeant said.
They are hangin’ Danny Deever, you must mark ‘im to ‘is place,
For ‘e shot a comrade sleepin’ – you must look ‘im in the face,
Nine ‘undred of ‘is county an’ the Regiment’s disgrace,
While they’re hangin’ Danny Deever in the mornin’.

“What’s that so black agin the sun?” said Files-on-Parade.
“It’s Danny fightin’ ‘ard for life,” the Color-Sergeant said.
“What’s that that whimpers over’ead?” said Files-on-Parade.
“It’s Danny’s soul that’s passin’ now,” the Color-Sergeant said.
For they’re done with Danny Deever, you can ‘ear the quickstep play.
The regiment’s in column, an’ they’re marchin’ us away;
Ho! the young recruits are shakin’, an’ they’ll want their beer today,
After hangin’ Danny Deever in the mornin’.

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            The Hyenas

After the burial-parties leave
   And the baffled kites have fled;
The wise hyenas come out at eve
   To take account of our dead. 

How he died and why he died
   Troubles them not a whit.
They snout the bushes and stones aside
   And dig till they come to it. 

They are only resolute they shall eat
   That they and their mates may thrive,
And they know that the dead are safer meat
   Than the weakest thing alive. 

(For a goat may butt, and a worm may sting,
   And a child will sometimes stand;
But a poor dead soldier of the king
   Can never lift a hand.)

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                             A Code Of Morals

Now Jones had left his new-wed bride to keep his house in order,
And hied away to the Hurrum Hills above the Afghan border,
To sit on a rock with a heliograph; but ere he left he taught
His wife the working of the Code that set the miles at naught. 

And Love had made him very sage, as Nature made her fair;
So Cupid and Apollo linked, per heliograph, the pair.
At dawn, across the Hurrum Hills, he flashed her counsel wise-
At e’en, the dying sunset bore her husband’s homilies. 

He warned her ‘gainst seductive youths in scarlet clad and gold,
As much as ‘gainst the blandishments paternal of the old;
But kept his gravest warnings for (hereby the ditty hangs)
That snowy-haired Lothario, Lieutenant-General Bangs. 

‘Twas General Bangs, with Aide and Staff, that tittupped on the
way,
When they beheld a heliograph temptestuously at play;
They thought of Border risings, and of stations sacked and burned
So stopped to take the message down – and this is what they
learned:

“Dash dot dot, dot, dot dash, dot dash dot” twice.  The General
swore.
“Was ever General Officer addressed as ‘dear’ before?
“My Love,’ I’ faith!  ‘My Duck,’ Gadzooks!  ‘My darling
popsywop!’
Spirit of great Lord Wolseley, who is on that mountain top?” 

The artless Aide-de-camp was mute; the gilded Staff were still,
As, dumb with pent-up mirth, they booked that message from the
hill;
For, clear as summer’s lightning flare, the husband’s warning ran:
“Don’t dance or ride with General Bangs – a most immoral man.” 

(At dawn, across the Hurrum Hills, he flashed her counsel wise –
But, howsoever Love be blind, the world at large hath eyes.)
With damnatory dot and dash he heliographed his wife
Some interesting details of the General’s private life. 

The artless Aide-de-camp was mute; the shining Staff were still,
And red and ever redder grew the General’s shaven gill.
And this is what he said at last (his feelings matter not):
“I think we’ve tapped a private line.  Hi! Threes about there!
Trot!”
 

All honor unto Bangs, for ne’er did Jones thereafter know
By word or act official who read off that helio.;
But the tale is on the Frontier, and from Michni to Mooltan
They know the worthy General as “that most immoral man.”

 

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                                Troopin’

Troopin’, troopin’, troopin’ to the sea:
‘Ere’s September come again – the six-year men are free.
O leave the dead be’ind us, for they cannot come away
To where the ship’s a-coalin’ up that takes us ‘ome to-day. 

   We’re goin’ ‘ome, we’re goin’ ‘ome,
   Our ship is at the shore,
   An’ you must pack your ‘aversack,
   For we won’t come back no more.
   Ho, don’t you grieve for me,
   My lovely Mary-Ann,
   For I’ll marry you yit on a fourp’ny bit
   As a time-expired man! 

The Malabar’s in ‘arbor with the Jumner at ‘er tail,
An’ the time-expired’s waitin’ of ‘is orders for to sail,
Ho! the weary waitin’ when on Khyber ‘ills we lay,
But the time-expired’s waitin’ of ‘is orders ‘ome to-day. 

They’ll turn us out at Portsmouth wharf in cold an’ wet an’ rain,
All wearin’ Injian cotton kit, but we will not complain;
They’ll kill us of pneumonia – for that’s their little way –
But damn the chills and fever, men, we’re goin’ ‘ome to-day! 

Troopin’, troopin’, winter’s round again!
See the new draf’s pourin’ in for the old campaign;
Ho, you poor recruities, but you’ve got to earn your pay –
What’s the last from Lunnon, lads? We’re goin’ there to-day. 

Troopin’, troopin’, give another cheer –
‘Ere’s to English women an’ a quart of English beer;
The Colonel an’ the regiment an’ all who’ve got to stay,
Gawd’s mercy strike ‘em gentle – Whoop! we’re goin’ ‘ome to-day. 

   We’re goin’ ‘ome, we’re goin’ ‘ome,
   Our ship is at the shore,
   An’ you must pack your ‘aversack,
   For we won’t come back no more.
   Ho, don’t you grieve for me,
   My lovely Mary-Ann,
   For I’ll marry you yit on a fourp’ny bit
   As a time-expired man!

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              Recessional

God of our fathers, known of old –
   Lord of our far-flung battle line –
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
   Dominion over palm and pine –
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget! 

The tumult and the shouting dies –
   The Captains and the Kings depart –
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
   An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget! 

Far-called our navies melt away –
   On dune and headland sinks the fire –
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
   Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget! 

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
    Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe –
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
   Or lesser breeds without the Law –
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget! 

For heathen heart that puts her trust
   In reeking tube and iron shard –
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
   And guarding calls not Thee to guard.
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!
                                            Amen.

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