Classics  
English    1865 - 1936   
Joseph Rudyard Kipling (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936) was a British author and poet. Born in Bombay, British India, he is best known for his works of fiction The Jungle Book (1894) (a collection of stories which includes Rikki-Tikki-Tavi), Kim (1901) (a tale of adventure), many short stories, ... Read more
Joseph Rudyard Kipling (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936) was a British author and poet. Born in Bombay, British India, he is best known for his works of fiction The Jungle Book (1894) (a collection of stories which includes Rikki-Tikki-Tavi), Kim (1901) (a tale of adventure), many short stories, ... Read more

When the Himalayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride,
He shouts to scare the monster, who will often turn aside.
But the she-bear thus accosted rends the peasant tooth and nail.
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

When Nag the basking cobra hears the careless foot of man,
He will sometimes wriggle sideways and avoid it if he can.
But his mate makes no such motion where she camps beside the trail.
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

When the early Jesuit fathers preached to Hurons and Choctaws,
They prayed to be delivered from the vengeance of the squaws.
’Twas the women, not the warriors, turned those stark enthusiasts pale.
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

Man’s timid heart is bursting with the things he must not say,
For the Woman that God gave him isn’t his to give away;
But when hunter meets with husband, each confirms the other’s tale—
The female of the species is more deadly than the male.

Man, a bear in most relations-worm and savage otherwise,—
Man propounds negotiations, Man accepts the compromise.
Very rarely will he squarely push the logic of a fact
To its ultimate conclusion in unmitigated act.

Fear, or foolishness, impels him, ere he lay the wicked low,
To concede some form of trial even to his fiercest foe.
Mirth obscene diverts his anger—Doubt and Pity oft perplex
Him in dealing with an issue— to the scandal of The Sex!

But the Woman that God gave him, every fibre of her frame
Proves her launched for one sole issue, armed and engined for the same;
And to serve that single issue, lest the generations fail,
The female of the species must be deadlier than the male.

She who faces Death by torture for each life beneath her breast
May not deal in doubt or pity—must not swerve for fact or jest.
These be purely male diversions—not in these her honour dwells.
She the Other Law we live by, is that Law and nothing else.

She can bring no more to living than the powers that make her great
As the Mother of the Infant and the Mistress of the Mate.
And when Babe and Man are lacking and she strides unclaimed to claim
Her right as femme (and baron), her equipment is the same.

She is wedded to convictions—in default of grosser ties;
Her contentions are her children, Heaven help him who denies!—
He will meet no suave discussion, but the instant, white-hot, wild,
Wakened female of the species warring as for spouse and child.

Unprovoked and awful charges— even so the she-bear fights,
Speech that drips, corrodes, and poisons—even so the cobra bites,
Scientific vivisection of one nerve till it is raw
And the victim writhes in anguish—like the Jesuit with the squaw!

So it cames that Man, the coward, when he gathers to confer
With his fellow-braves in council, dare not leave a place for her
Where, at war with Life and Conscience, he uplifts his erring hands
To some God of Abstract Justice—which no woman understands.

And Man knows it! Knows, moreover, that the Woman that God gave him
Must command but may not govern—shall enthral but not enslave him.
And She knows, because She warns him, and Her instincts never fail,
That the Female of Her Species is more deadly than the Male.

If you can keep your head when all about you
  Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
  But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
  Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
  And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
  If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
  And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
  Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
  And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
  And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
  And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
  To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
  Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
  Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
  If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
  With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
  And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

THAT HE SANG AT THE COUNCIL ROCK WHEN HE DANCED ON SHERE KHAN’S HIDE

The Song of Mowgli—I, Mowgli, am singing. Let
      the jungle listen to the things I have done.
Shere Khan said he would kill—would kill! At the
      gates in the twilight he would kill Mowgli, the
      Frog!
He ate and he drank. Drink deep, Shere Khan, for
      when wilt thou drink again? Sleep and dream
      of the kill.
I am alone on the grazing-grounds. Gray Brother,
      come to me! Come to me, Lone Wolf, for there
      is big game afoot.
Bring up the great bull-buffaloes, the blue-skinned
      herd-bulls with the angry eyes. Drive them to
      and fro as I order.
Sleepest thou still, Shere Khan? Wake, O wake!
      Here come I, and the bulls are behind.
Rama, the King of the Buffaloes, stamped with his
      foot. Waters of the Waingunga, whither went
      Shere Khan?
He is not Ikki to dig holes, nor Mao, the Peacock, that
      he should fly. He is not Mang, the Bat, to hang
      in the branches. Little bamboos that creak to-
      gether, tell me where he ran?
Ow! He is there. Ahoo! He is there. Under the
      feet of Rama lies the Lame One! Up, Shere
      Khan! Up and kill! Here is meat; break the
      necks of the bulls!
Hsh! He is asleep. We will not wake him, for his
      strength is very great. The kites have come down
      to see it. The black ants have come up to know
      it. There is a great assembly in his honour.
Alala! I have no cloth to wrap me. The kites will
      see that I am naked. I am ashamed to meet all
      these people.
Lend me thy coat, Shere Khan. Lend me thy gay
      striped coat that I may go to the Council Rock.
By the Bull that bought me I have made a promise—
      a little promise. Only thy coat is lacking before I
      keep my word.
With the knife—with the knife that men use—with
      the knife of the hunter, the man, I will stoop down
      for my gift.
Waters of the Waingunga, bear witness that Shere
      Khan gives me his coat for the love that he bears
      me. Pull, Gray Brother! Pull, Akela! Heavy is
      the hide of Shere Khan.
The Man Pack are angry. They throw stones and talk
      child’s talk. My mouth is bleeding. Let us run
      away.
Through the night, through the hot night, run swiftly
      with me, my brothers. We will leave the lights
      of the village and go to the low moon.
Waters of the Waingunga, the Man Pack have cast me
      out. I did them no harm, but they were afraid of
      me. Why?
Wolf Pack, ye have cast me out too. The jungle is
      shut to me and the village gates are shut. Why?
As Mang flies between the beasts and the birds so fly
      I between the village and the jungle. Why?
I dance on the hide of Shere Khan, but my heart is
      very heavy. My mouth is cut and wounded with
      the stones from the village, but my heart is very
      light because I have come back to the jungle.
      Why?
These two things fight together in me as the snakes
      fight in the spring. The water comes out of my
      eyes; yet I laugh while it falls. Why?
I am two Mowglis, but the hide of Shere Khan is under
      my feet.
All the jungle knows that I have killed Shere Khan.
      Look—look well, O Wolves!
Ahae! My heart is heavy with the things that I do
      not understand.

Oh! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us,
      And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, o’er the combers, looks downward to find us
      At rest in the hollows that rustle between.
Where billow meets billow, there soft be thy pillow;
      Ah, weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
      Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas.

Here come I to my own again,
Fed, forgiven and known again,
Claimed by bone of my bone again
And cheered by flesh of my flesh.
The fatted calf is dressed for me,
But the husks have greater zest for me,
I think my pigs will be best for me,
So I’m off to the Yards afresh.

I never was very refined, you see,
(And it weighs on my brother’s mind, you see)
But there’s no reproach among swine, d’you see,
For being a bit of a swine.
So I’m off with wallet and staff to eat
The bread that is three parts chaff to wheat,
But glory be!—there’s a laugh to it,
Which isn’t the case when we dine.

My father glooms and advises me,
My brother sulks and despises me,
And Mother catechises me
Till I want to go out and swear.
And, in spite of the butler’s gravity,
I know that the servants have it I
Am a monster of moral depravity,
And I’m damned if I think it’s fair!

I wasted my substance, I know I did,
On riotous living, so I did,
But there’s nothing on record to show I did
Worse than my betters have done.
They talk of the money I spent out there—
They hint at the pace that I went out there—
But they all forget I was sent out there
Alone as a rich man’s son.

So I was a mark for plunder at once,
And lost my cash (can you wonder?) at once,
But I didn’t give up and knock under at once,
I worked in the Yards, for a spell,
Where I spent my nights and my days with hogs.
And shared their milk and maize with hogs,
Till, I guess, I have learned what pays with hogs
And—I have that knowledge to sell!

So back I go to my job again,
Not so easy to rob again,
Or quite so ready to sob again
On any neck that’s around.
I’m leaving, Pater.  Good-bye to you!
God bless you, Mater! I’ll write to you!
I wouldn’t be impolite to you,
But, Brother, you are a hound!

Oh! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us,
  And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, o’er the combers, looks downward to find us
  At rest in the hollows that rustle between.

Where billow meets billow, there soft be thy pillow;
  Ah, weary, wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
  Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas.

We knew thee of old,
  Oh divinely restored,
By the light of thine eyes
  And the light of thy Sword.

From the graves of our slain
  Shall thy valour prevail
As we greet thee again—
  Hail, Liberty! Hail!

Long time didst thou dwell
  Mid the peoples that mourn,
Awaiting some voice
  That should bid thee return.

Ah, slow broke that day
  And no man dared call,
For the shadow of tyranny
  Lay over all:

And we saw thee sad-eyed,
  The tears on thy cheeks
While thy raiment was dyed
  In the blood of the Greeks.

Yet, behold now thy sons
  With impetuous breath
Go forth to the fight
  Seeking Freedom or Death.

From the graves of our slain
  Shall thy valour prevail
As we greet thee again—
  Hail, Liberty! Hail!

The Camel’s hump is an ugly lump
  Which well you may see at the Zoo;
But uglier yet is the hump we get
  From having too little to do.

Kiddies and grown-ups too-oo-oo,
If we haven’t enough to do-oo-oo,
  We get the hump—
  Cameelious hump—
The hump that is black and blue!

We climb out of bed with a frouzly head
  And a snarly-yarly voice.
We shiver and scowl and we grunt and we growl
  At our bath and our boots and our toys!

And there ought to be a corner for me
(And I know there is one for you)
  When we get the hump—
  Cameelious hump—
The hump that is black and blue!

The cure for this ill is not to sit still,
  Or frowst with a book by the fire;
But to take a large hoe and a shovel also,
  And dig till you gently perspire.

And then you will find that the sun and the wind
And the Djinn of the Garden too,
  Have lifted the hump—
  The horrible hump—
The hump that is black and blue!

I get it as well as you-oo-oo,
If I haven’t enough to do-oo-oo,
  We all get hump—
  Cameelious hump—
Kiddies and grown-ups too!

Dim dawn behind the tamerisks—the sky is saffron-yellow—
As the women in the village grind the corn,
And the parrots seek the riverside, each calling to his fellow
That the Day, the staring Easter Day is born.
Oh the white dust on the highway! Oh the stenches in the byway!
Oh the clammy fog that hovers
And at Home they’re making merry ’neath the white and scarlet berry—
What part have India’s exiles in their mirth?

Full day begind the tamarisks—the sky is blue and staring—
As the cattle crawl afield beneath the yoke,
And they bear One o’er the field-path, who is past all hope or caring,
To the ghat below the curling wreaths of smoke.
Call on Rama, going slowly, as ye bear a brother lowly—
Call on Rama—he may hear, perhaps, your voice!
With our hymn-books and our psalters we appeal to other altars,
And to-day we bid “good Christian men rejoice!”

High noon behind the tamarisks—the sun is hot above us—
As at Home the Christmas Day is breaking wan.
They will drink our healths at dinner—those who tell us how they love us,
And forget us till another year be gone!
Oh the toil that knows no breaking! Oh the Heimweh, ceaseless, aching!
Oh the black dividing Sea and alien Plain!
Youth was cheap—wherefore we sold it.
Gold was good—we hoped to hold it,
And to-day we know the fulness of our gain.

Grey dusk behind the tamarisks—the parrots fly together—
As the sun is sinking slowly over Home;
And his last ray seems to mock us shackled in a lifelong tether.
That drags us back how’er so far we roam.
Hard her service, poor her payment—she is ancient, tattered raiment—
India, she the grim Stepmother of our kind.
If a year of life be lent her, if her temple’s shrine we enter,
The door is hut—we may not look behind.

Black night behind the tamarisks—the owls begin their chorus—
As the conches from the temple scream and bray.
With the fruitless years behind us, and the hopeless years before us,
Let us honor, O my brother, Christmas Day!
Call a truce, then, to our labors—let us feast with friends and neighbors,
And be merry as the custom of our caste;
For if “faint and forced the laughter,” and if sadness follow after,
We are richer by one mocking Christmas past.

Life’s all getting and giving,
I’ve only myself to give.
What shall I do for a living?
I’ve only one life to live.
End it?  I’ll not find another.
Spend it? But how shall I best?
Sure the wise plan is to live like a man
And Luck may look after the rest!
Largesse! Largesse, Fortune!
Give or hold at your will.
If I’ve no care for Fortune,
Fortune must follow me still.

Bad Luck, she is never a lady
But the commonest wench on the street,
Shuffling, shabby and shady,
Shameless to pass or meet.
Walk with her once—it’s a weakness!
Talk to her twice. It’s a crime!
Thrust her away when she gives you “good day”
And the besom won’t board you next time.
Largesse! Largesse, Fortune!
What is Your Ladyship’s mood?
If I have no care for Fortune,
My Fortune is bound to be good!

Good Luck she is never a lady
But the cursedest quean alive!
Tricksy,  wincing  and  jady,
Kittle to lead or drive.
Greet her—she’s hailing a stranger!
Meet her—she’s busking to leave.
Let her alone for a shrew  to the bone,
And the hussy comes plucking your sleeve!
Largesse!  Largesse, Fortune!
I’ll neither follow nor flee.
If I don’t run after Fortune,
Fortune must run after me!

Father and Mother, and Me,
  Sister and Auntie say
All the people like us are We,
  And every one else is They.
And They live over the sea,
  While We live over the way,
But-would you believe it?—They look upon We
  As only a sort of They!

We eat pork and beef
  With cow-horn-handled knives.
They who gobble Their rice off a leaf,
  Are horrified out of Their lives;
While they who live up a tree,
  And feast on grubs and clay,
(Isn’t it scandalous? ) look upon We
  As a simply disgusting They!

We shoot birds with a gun.
  They stick lions with spears.
Their full-dress is un-.
  We dress up to Our ears.
They like Their friends for tea.
  We like Our friends to stay;
And, after all that, They look upon We
  As an utterly ignorant They!

We eat kitcheny food.
  We have doors that latch.
They drink milk or blood,
  Under an open thatch.
We have Doctors to fee.
  They have Wizards to pay.
And (impudent heathen!) They look upon We
  As a quite impossible They!

All good people agree,
  And all good people say,
All nice people, like Us, are We
  And every one else is They:
But if you cross over the sea,
  Instead of over the way,
You may end by (think of it!) looking on We
  As only a sort of They!

If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse’s feet,
Don’t go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street.
Them that ask no questions isn’t told a lie.
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
  Five and twenty ponies,
  Trotting through the dark—
  Brandy for the Parson,
  ‘Baccy for the Clerk;
  Laces for a lady, letters for a spy,
And watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

Running round the woodlump if you chance to find
Little barrels, roped and tarred, all full of brandy-wine,
Don’t you shout to come and look, nor use ’em for your play.
Put the brishwood back again—and they’ll be gone next day!

If you see the stable-door setting open wide;
If you see a tired horse lying down inside;
If your mother mends a coat cut about and tore;
If the lining’s wet and warm—don’t you ask no more!

If you meet King George’s men, dressed in blue and red,
You be carefull what you say, and mindful what is said.
If they call you “pretty maid,” and chuck you ’neath the chin,
Don’t you tell where no one is, nor yet where no one’s been!

Knocks and footsteps round the house—whistles after dark—
You’ve no call for running out till the house-dogs bark.
Trusty’s here, and Pincher’s here, and see how dumb they lie—
They don’t fret to follow when the Gentlemen go by!

If you do as you’ve been told, ‘likely there’s a chance,
You’ll be given a dainty doll, all the way from France,
With a cap of Valenciennes, and a velvet hood—
A present from the Gentlemen, along o’ being good!
  Five and twenty ponies,
  Trotting through the dark—
  Brandy for the Parson,
  ‘Baccy for the Clerk;
Them that asks no questions isn’t told a lie—
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen bo by!

I am made all things to all men—
    Hebrew, Roman, and Greek—
    In each one’s tongue I speal,
Suiting to each my word,
That some may be drawn to the Lord!

I am made all things to all men—
    In City or Wilderness
    Praising the crafts they profess
That some may be drawn to the Lord—
By any means to my Lord!

Since I was overcome
    By that great Light and Word,
    I have forgot or forgone
The self men call their own
(Being made all things to all men)
    So that I might save some
    At such small price, to the Lord,
As being all things to all men.

I was made all things to all men,
But now my course is done—
And now is my reward…
Ah, Christ, when I stand at Thy Throne
With those I have drawn to the Lord,
Restore me my self again!

Unto whose use the pregnant suns are poised,
With idiot moons and stars retracting stars?
Creep thou between—thy coming’s all unnoised.
Heaven hath her high, as Earth her baser, wars.
Heir to these tumults, this affright, that fray
(By Adam’s, fathers’, own, sin bound alway);
Peer up, draw out thy horoscope and say
Which planet mends thy threadbare fate, or mars.

You may talk o’ gin and beer
When you’re quartered safe out ‘ere,
An’ you’re sent to penny-fights an’ Aldershot it;
But when it comes to slaughter
You will do your work on water,
An’ you’ll lick the bloomin’ boots of ‘im that’s got it.
Now in Injia’s sunny clime,
Where I used to spend my time
A-servin’ of ‘Er Majesty the Queen,
Of all them blackfaced crew
The finest man I knew
Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din.
      He was “Din! Din! Din!
  You limpin’ lump o’ brick-dust, Gunga Din!
      Hi! slippery hitherao!
      Water, get it!  Panee lao!
  You squidgy-nosed old idol, Gunga Din.”

The uniform ‘e wore
Was nothin’ much before,
An’ rather less than ‘arf o’ that be’ind,
For a piece o’ twisty rag
An’ a goatskin water-bag
Was all the field-equipment ‘e could find.
When the sweatin’ troop-train lay
In a sidin’ through the day,
Where the ‘eat would make your bloomin’ eyebrows crawl,
We shouted “Harry By!”
Till our throats were bricky-dry,
Then we wopped ‘im ‘cause ‘e couldn’t serve us all.
      It was “Din! Din! Din!
  You ‘eathen, where the mischief ‘ave you been?
      You put some juldee in it
      Or I’ll marrow you this minute
  If you don’t fill up my helmet, Gunga Din!”

‘E would dot an’ carry one
Till the longest day was done;
An’ ‘e didn’t seem to know the use o’ fear.
If we charged or broke or cut,
You could bet your bloomin’ nut,
‘E’d be waitin’ fifty paces right flank rear.
With ‘is mussick on ‘is back,
‘E would skip with our attack,
An’ watch us till the bugles made “Retire”,
An’ for all ‘is dirty ‘ide
‘E was white, clear white, inside
When ‘e went to tend the wounded under fire!
      It was “Din! Din! Din!”
  With the bullets kickin’ dust-spots on the green.
      When the cartridges ran out,
      You could hear the front-files shout,
  “Hi! ammunition-mules an’ Gunga Din!”

I shan’t forgit the night
When I dropped be’ind the fight
With a bullet where my belt-plate should ‘a’ been.
I was chokin’ mad with thirst,
An’ the man that spied me first
Was our good old grinnin’, gruntin’ Gunga Din.
‘E lifted up my ‘ead,
An’ he plugged me where I bled,
An’ ‘e guv me ‘arf-a-pint o’ water-green:
It was crawlin’ and it stunk,
But of all the drinks I’ve drunk,
I’m gratefullest to one from Gunga Din.
      It was “Din! Din! Din!
  ‘Ere’s a beggar with a bullet through ‘is spleen;
      ‘E’s chawin’ up the ground,
      An’ ‘e’s kickin’ all around:
  For Gawd’s sake git the water, Gunga Din!”

‘E carried me away
To where a dooli lay,
An’ a bullet come an’ drilled the beggar clean.
‘E put me safe inside,
An’ just before ‘e died,
“I ‘ope you liked your drink”, sez Gunga Din.
So I’ll meet ‘im later on
At the place where ‘e is gone—
Where it’s always double drill and no canteen;
‘E’ll be squattin’ on the coals
Givin’ drink to poor damned souls,
An’ I’ll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!
      Yes, Din! Din! Din!
  You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!
      Though I’ve belted you and flayed you,
      By the livin’ Gawd that made you,
  You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

Heh! Walk her round. Heave, ah, heave her short again!
Over, snatch her over, there, and hold her on the pawl.
Loose all sail, and brace your yards aback and full—
Ready jib to pay her off and heave short all!
  Well, ah, fare you well; we can stay no more with you, my love—
   Down, set down your liquor and your girl from off your knee;
         For the wind has come to say:
         “You must take me while you may,
      If you’d go to Mother Carey
      (Walk her down to Mother Carey!),
   Oh, we’re bound to Mother Carey where she feeds her chicks at sea!”

Heh! Walk her round. Break, ah, break it out o’ that!
Break our starboard-bower out, apeak, awash, and clear!
Port—port she casts, with the harbour-mud beneath her foot,
And that’s the last o’ bottom we shall see this year!
  Well, ah, fare you well, for we’ve got to take her out again—
   Take her out in ballast, riding light and cargo-free.
      And it’s time to clear and quit
      When the hawser grips the bitt,
   So we’ll pay you with the foresheet and a promise from the sea!

Heh! Tally on. Aft and walk away with her!
Handsome to the cathead, now; O tally on the fall!
Stop, seize and fish, and easy on the davit-guy.
Up, well up the fluke of her, and inboard haul!
  Well, ah, fare you well, for the Channel wind’s took hold of us,
   Choking down our voices as we snatch the gaskets free.
      And it’s blowing up for night,
      And she’s dropping light on light,
   And she’s snorting under bonnets for a breath of open sea,

Wheel, full and by; but she’ll smell her road alone to-night.
Sick she is and harbour-sick—Oh, sick to clear the land!
Roll down to Brest with the old Red Ensign over us—
Carry on and thrash her out with all she’ll stand!
  Well, ah, fare you well, and it’s Ushant slams the door on us,
   Whirling like a windmill through the dirty scud to lee:
         Till the last, last flicker goes
         From the tumbling water-rows,
      And we’re off to Mother Carey
      (Walk her down to Mother Carey!),
   Oh, we’re bound for Mother Carey where she feeds her chicks at sea!

My new-cut ashlar takes the light
  Where crimson-blank the windows flare;
By my own work, before the night,
  Great Overseer, I make my prayer.

If there be good in that I wrought,
  Thy hand compell’d it, Master, Thine;
Where I have fail’d to meet Thy thought
  I know, through Thee, the blame if mine.

One instant’s toil to Thee denied
  Stands all Eternity’s offence;
Of that I did with Thee to guide
  To Thee, through Thee, be excellence.

Who, lest all thought of Eden fade,
  Bring’st Eden to the craftsman’s brain,
Godlike to muse o’er his own trade
  And manlike stand with God again.

The depth and dream of my desire,
  The bitter paths wherein I stray,
Thou knowest Who hast made the Fire,
  Thou knowest Who hast made the Clay.

One stone the more swings to her place
  In that dread Temple of Thy worth—
It is enough that through Thy grace
  I saw naught common on Thy earth.

Take not that vision from my ken;
  O, whatsoe’er may spoil or speed,
Help me to need no aid from men,
  That I may help such men as need!

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.

After the burial-parties leave
  And the baffled kites have fled;
The wise hyaenas 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.)

They whoop and halloo and scatter the dirt
  Until their tushes white
Take good hold of the army shirt,
  And tug the corpse to light,

And the pitiful face is shewn again
  For an instant ere they close;
But it is not discovered to living men—
  Only to God and to those

Who, being soulless, are free from shame,
  Whatever meat they may find.
Nor do they defile the dead man’s name—
  That is reserved for his kind.

Speakin’ in general, I’ave tried ’em all
The ‘appy roads that take you o’er the world.
Speakin’ in general, I’ave found them good
For such as cannot use one bed too long,
But must get ‘ence, the same as I’ave done,
An’ go observin’ matters till they die.

What do it matter where or ‘ow we die,
So long as we’ve our ‘ealth to watch it all—
The different ways that different things are done,
An’ men an’ women lovin’ in this world;
Takin’ our chances as they come along,
An’ when they ain’t, pretendin’ they are good?

In cash or credit—no, it aren’t no good;
You’ve to ‘ave the ‘abit or you’d die,
Unless you lived your life but one day long,
Nor didn’t prophesy nor fret at all,
But drew your tucker some’ow from the world,
An’ never bothered what you might ha’ done.

But, Gawd, what things are they I’aven’t done?
I’ve turned my ‘and to most, an’ turned it good,
In various situations round the world
For ‘im that doth not work must surely die;
But that’s no reason man should labour all
‘Is life on one same shift—life’s none so long.

Therefore, from job to job I’ve moved along.
Pay couldn’t ‘old me when my time was done,
For something in my ‘ead upset it all,
Till I’ad dropped whatever ’twas for good,
An’, out at sea, be’eld the dock-lights die,
An’ met my mate—the wind that tramps the world!

It’s like a book, I think, this bloomin, world,
Which you can read and care for just so long,
But presently you feel that you will die
Unless you get the page you’re readi’n’ done,
An’ turn another—likely not so good;
But what you’re after is to turn’em all.

Gawd bless this world! Whatever she’oth done—
Excep’ When awful long—I’ve found it good.
So write, before I die, ” ‘E liked it all!”

I have made for you a song
    And it may be right or wrong,
But only you can tell me if it’s true.
    I have tried for to explain
    Both your pleasure and your pain,
And, Thomas, here’s my best respects to you!

    O there’ll surely come a day
    When they’ll give you all your pay,
And treat you as a Christian ought to do;
    So, until that day comes round,
    Heaven keep you safe and sound,
And, Thomas, here’s my best respects to you!

 
To comment on this poem, please log in or create a free account
Log in or register to comment