Poems of Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1936

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01. A Boy Scouts' Patrol Song
02. Blue Roses; The Light that Failed
03. The Broken Men
04. The Children's Song
05. Covenant
06. The Holy War
07. Hymn Before Action
08. from The Elephant's Child
09. The Cat that Walked by Himself
10. A Nativity
11. Our Fathers of Old
12. The Thousandth Man
13. L'Envoi
14. The Way Through the Woods
15. The Explanation
16. If
17. Gunga Din
18. The Overland Mail
19. Seal Lullaby
20. Cold Iron
21. Recessional
22. A Pilgrim's Way
23. Cities and Thrones and Powers
24. "For All We Have and Are"
25. The Power of the Dog
26. The Choice
27. The Gods of the Copybook Headings
28. The Glory of the Garden
29. Mesopotamia
30. Imperious Wool-booted Sage
31. The Dane-Geld
32. from The Female of the Species
33. A Carol

01. A Boy Scouts' Patrol Song from Verse: 1885-1918, 1902

These are our regulations--
There's just one law for the Scout
And the first and the last, and the present and the past,
And the future and the perfect is "Look out!"
      I, thou and he, look out!
      We, ye and they, look out!
      Though you didn't or you wouldn't
      Or you hadn't or you couldn't;
      You jolly well must look out!

Look out, when you start for the day
      That your kit is packed to your mind;
There is no use going away
      With half of it left behind.
Look out that your laces are tight,
      And your boots are easy and stout,
Or you'll end with a blister at night.
      (Chorus) All Patrols look out!

Look out for the birds of the air,
      Look out for the beasts of the field--
They'll tell you how and where
      The other side's concealed.
When the blackbird bolts from the copse,
      Or the cattle are staring about,
The wise commander stops
      And (chorus) All Patrols look out!

Look out when your front is clear,
      And you feel you are bound to win.
Look out for your flank and your rear--
      That's where surprises begin.
For the rustle that isn't a rat,
      For the splash that isn't a trout,
For the boulder that may be a hat
      (Chorus) All Patrols look out!

For the innocent knee-high grass,
      For the ditch that never tells,
Look out! Look out ere you pass--
      And look out for everything else
A sign mis-read as you run
      May turn retreat to a rout--
For all things under the sun
      (Chorus) All Patrols look out!

Look out where your temper goes
      At the end of a losing game;
When your boots too tight for your toes;
      And you answer and argue and blame.
It's the hardest part of the Law,
      But it has to be learnt by the Scout--
For whining and shirking and "jaw"
(Chorus) All Patrols look out!

02. Blue Roses from The Light that Failed, 1890

Roses red and roses white
Plucked I for my love's delight.
She would none of all my posies--
Bade me gather her blue roses.

Half the world I wandered through,
Seeking where such flowers grew.
Half the world unto my quest
Answered me with laugh and jest.

Home I came at wintertide,
But my silly love had died
Seeking with her latest breath
Roses from the arms of Death.

It may be beyond the grave
She shall find what she would have.
Mine was but an idle quest--
Roses white and red are best!

03. The Broken Men from Verse: 1885-1918, 1902

Rather than go to debtor's prison, some Englishmen would start a new life in Peru. In the fifth stanza, "clicking jalousies" are blinds or windows with horizontal slats that can be adjusted to exclude rain or the heat of the sun but allow the breeze.

For things we never mention,
      For Art misunderstood--
For excellent intention
      That did not turn to good;
From ancient tales' renewing,
      From clouds we would not clear--
Beyond the Law's pursuing
      We fled, and settled here.

We took no tearful leaving,
      We bade no long good-byes;
Men talked of crime and thieving,
      Men wrote of fraud and lies.
To save our injured feelings
      'Twas time and time to go--
Behind was dock and Dartmoor,
      Ahead lay Callao!

The widow and the orphan
      That pray for ten per cent,
They clapped their trailers on us
      To spy the road we went.
They watched the foreign sailings
      (They scan the shipping still),
And that's your Christian people
      Returning good for ill!

God bless the thoughtful islands
      Where never warrants come;
God bless the just Republics
      That give a man a home,
That ask no foolish questions,
      But set him on his feet;
And save his wife and daughters
      From the workhouse and the street!

On church and square and market
      The noonday silence falls;
You'll hear the drowsy mutter
      Of the fountain in our halls.
Asleep amid the yuccas
      The city takes her ease--
Till twilight brings the land-wind
      To the clicking jalousies.

Day long the diamond weather,
      The high, unaltered blue--
The smell of goats and incense
      And the mule-bells tinkling through.
Day long the warder ocean
      That keeps us from our kin,
And once a month our levee
      When the English mail comes in.

You'll find us up and waiting
      To treat you at the bar;
You'll find us less exclusive
      Than the average English are.
We'll meet you with a carriage,
      Too glad to show you round,
But--we do not lunch on steamers,
      For they are English ground.

We sail o' nights to England
      And join our smiling Boards--
Our wives go in with Viscounts
      And our daughters dance with Lords,
But behind our princely doings,
      And behind each coup we make,
We feel there's Something Waiting,
      And--we meet It when we wake.

Ah God! One sniff of England--
      To greet our flesh and blood--
To hear the traffic slurring
      Once more through London mud!
Our towns of wasted honour--
      Our streets of lost delight!
How stands the old Lord Warden?
      Are Dover's cliffs still white?

04. The Children's Song from Puck of Pook's Hill, 1906

In 1906, Kipling published a fantasy novel in which Puck, "the oldest Old Thing in England," teaches two children about different periods of British history. As in The Jungle Book, Kipling alternated stories with poetry. This is the closing poem of the book.

Land of our Birth, we pledge to thee
Our love and toil in the years to be;
When we are grown and take our place
As men and women with our race.

Father in Heaven who lovest all,
Oh, help Thy children when they call;
That they may build from age to age
An undefiled heritage.

Teach us to bear the yoke in youth,
With steadfastness and careful truth;
That, in our time, Thy Grace may give
The Truth whereby the Nations live.

Teach us to rule ourselves alway,
Controlled and cleanly night and day;
That we may bring, if need arise,
No maimed or worthless sacrifice.

Teach us to look in all our ends
On Thee for judge, and not our friends;
That we, with Thee, may walk uncowed
By fear or favour of the crowd.

Teach us the Strength that cannot seek,
By deed or thought, to hurt the weak;
That, under Thee, we may possess
Man's strength to comfort man's distress.

Teach us Delight in simple things,
And Mirth that has no bitter springs;
Forgiveness free of evil done,
And Love to all men 'neath the sun!

Land of our Birth, our faith, our pride,
For whose dear sake our fathers died;
Oh, Motherland, we pledge to thee
Head, heart and hand through the years to be!

05. Covenant from Verse: 1885-1918, 1902

We thought we ranked above the chance of ill.
      Others might fall, not we, for we were wise--
Merchants in freedom. So, of our free-will
      We let our servants drug our strength with lies.

The pleasure and the poison had its way
      On us as on the meanest, till we learned
That he who lies will steal, who steals will slay.
      Neither God's judgment nor man's heart was turned.

Yet there remains His Mercy-- to be sought
Through wrath and peril till we cleanse the wrong
By that last right which our forefathers claimed
When their Law failed them and its stewards were bought.
This is our cause. God help us, and make strong
Our will to meet Him later, unashamed!

06. The Holy War from Verse: 1885-1918, 1902

"For here lay the excellent wisdom of him that built Mansoul, that the walls could never be broken down nor hurt by the most mighty adverse potentate unless the townsmen gave consent thereto."-- John Bunyan, The Holy War

A tinker out of Bedford,
      A vagrant oft in quod,
A private under Fairfax,
      A minister of God--
Two hundred years and thirty
      Ere Armageddon came
His single hand portrayed it,
      And Bunyan was his name!

He mapped for those who follow,
      The world in which we are--
"This famous town of Mansoul"
      That takes the Holy War.
Her true and traitor people,
      The gates along her wall,
From Eye Gate unto Feel Gate,
      John Bunyan showed them all.

All enemy divisions,
      Recruits of every class,
And highly-screened positions
      For flame or poison-gas;
The craft that we call modern,
      The crimes that we call new,
John Bunyan had 'em typed and filed
      In Sixteen Eighty-two.

Likewise the Lords of Looseness
      That hamper faith and works,
The Perseverance-Doubters,
      And Present-Comfort shirks,
With brittle intellectuals
      Who crack beneath a strain--
John Bunyan met that helpful set
      In Charles the Second's reign.

Emmanuel's vanguard dying
      For right and not for rights,
My Lord Apollyon lying
      To the State-kept Stockholmites,
The Pope, the swithering Neutrals
      The Kaiser and his Gott--
Their roles, their goals, their naked souls--
      He knew and drew the lot.

Now he hath left his quarters,
      In Bunhill Fields to lie,
The wisdom that he taught us
      Is proven prophecy--
One watchword through our Armies,
      One answer from our Lands:--
"No dealings with Diabolus
      As long as Mansoul stands!"

A pedlar from a hovel,
      The lowest of the low,
The Father of the Novel,
      Salvation's first Defoe,
Eight blinded generations
      Ere Armageddon came,
He showed us how to meet it,
      And Bunyan was his name!

07. Hymn Before Action from Verse: 1885-1918, 1902

The earth is full of anger,
      The seas are dark with wrath,
The Nations in their harness
      Go up against our path:
Ere yet we loose the legions--
      Ere yet we draw the blade,
Jehovah of the Thunders,
      Lord God of Battles, aid!

High lust and froward bearing,
      Proud heart, rebellious brow--
Deaf ear and soul uncaring,
      We seek Thy mercy now!
The sinner that forswore Thee,
      The fool that passed Thee by,
Our times are known before Thee--
      Lord, grant us strength to die!

For those who kneel beside us
      At altars not Thine own,
Who lack the lights that guide us,
      Lord, let their faith atone!
If wrong we did to call them,
      By honour bound they came;
Let not Thy Wrath befall them,
      But deal to us the blame.

From panic, pride, and terror
      Revenge that knows no rein--
Light haste and lawless error,
      Protect us yet again,
Cloak Thou our undeserving,
      Make firm the shuddering breath,
In silence and unswerving
      To taste Thy lesser death.

Ah, Mary pierced with sorrow,
      Remember, reach and save
The soul that comes to-morrow
      Before the God that gave!
Since each was born of woman,
      For each at utter need--
True comrade and true foeman--
      Madonna, intercede!

E'en now their vanguard gathers,
      E'en now we face the fray--
As Thou didst help our fathers,
      Help Thou our host to-day.
Fulfilled of signs and wonders,
      In life, in death made clear--
Jehovah of the Thunders,
      Lord God of Battles, hear!

08. from The Elephant's Child from Just So Stories, 1902

I keep six honest serving-men
      (They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
      And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
      I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
      I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
      For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch and tea,
      For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views.
      I know a person small--
She keeps ten million serving-men,
      Who get no rest at all!

She sends 'em abroad on her own affairs,
      From the second she opens her eyes--
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
      And seven million Whys!

09. The Cat That Walked by Himself from Just So Stories, 1902

Robinson Crusoe is alluded to a few times in this poem. It was one of Kipling's favorite books and solaces during his miserable stay with a cruel foster family from age 5-12.

Pussy can sit by the fire and sing,
      Pussy can climb a tree,
Or play with a silly old cork and string
      To 'muse herself, not me.
But I like Binkie my dog, because
      He knows how to behave;
So, Binkie's the same as the First Friend was,
      And I am the Man in Cave!

Pussy will play Man Friday till
      It's time to wet her paw
And make her walk on the window-sill
      (For the footprint Crusoe saw)
Then she fluffles her tail and mews,
      And scratches and won't attend.
But Binkie will play whatever I choose,
      And he is my true First Friend!

Pussy will rub my knees with her head
      Pretending she loves me hard;
But the very minute I go to my bed
      Pussy runs out in the yard,
And there she stays till the morning-light;
      So I know it is only pretend;
But Binkie, he snores at my feet all night,
      And he is my Firstest Friend!

10. A Nativity from Verse: 1885-1918, 1902

The Babe was laid in the Manger
      Between the gentle kine--
All safe from cold and danger--

      "But it was not so with mine,
                        (With mine! With mine!)
      "Is it well with the child, is it well?"
      The waiting mother prayed.
      "For I know not how he fell,
      And I know not where he is laid."

A Star stood forth in Heaven;
      The Watchers ran to see
The Sign of the Promise given--

      "But there comes no sign to me.
                              (To me! To me!)
      "My child died in the dark.
      Is it well with the child, is it well?
      There was none to tend him or mark,
      And I know not how he fell."

The Cross was raised on high;
      The Mother grieved beside--

"But the Mother saw Him die
      And took Him when He died.
                        (He died! He died!)
      "Seemly and undefiled
      His burial-place was made--
      Is it well, is it well with the child?
      For I know not where he is laid."

On the dawning of Easter Day
      Comes Mary Magdalene;
But the Stone was rolled away,
      And the Body was not within--

                        (Within! Within!)
      "Ah, who will answer my word?
      The broken mother prayed.
      "They have taken away my Lord,
      And I know not where He is laid."

"The Star stands forth in Heaven.
      The watchers watch in vain
For Sign of the Promise given
      Of peace on Earth again--

                        (Again! Again!)
      "But I know for Whom he fell"--
      The steadfast mother smiled,
      "Is it well with the child-- is it well?
      It is well-- it is well with the child!"

11. Our Fathers of Old - from "A Doctor of Medicine" Rewards and Fairies, 1910

Excellent herbs had our fathers of old--
      Excellent herbs to ease their pain--
Alexanders and Marigold,
      Eyebright, Orris, and Elecampane--
Basil, Rocket, Valerian, Rue,
      (Almost singing themselves they run)
Vervain, Dittany, Call-me-to-you--
      Cowslip, Melilot, Rose of the Sun.
            Anything green that grew out of the mould
            Was an excellent herb to our fathers of old.

Wonderful tales had our fathers of old,
      Wonderful tales of the herbs and the stars-
The Sun was Lord of the Marigold,
      Basil and Rocket belonged to Mars.
Pat as a sum in division it goes--
      (Every herb had a planet bespoke)--
Who but Venus should govern the Rose?
      Who but Jupiter own the Oak?
            Simply and gravely the facts are told
            In the wonderful books of our fathers of old.

Wonderful little, when all is said,
      Wonderful little our fathers knew.
Half their remedies cured you dead--
      Most of their teaching was quite untrue--
"Look at the stars when a patient is ill.
      (Dirt has nothing to do with disease),
Bleed and blister as much as you will,
      Blister and bleed him as oft as you please."
            Whence enormous and manifold
            Errors were made by our fathers of old.

Yet when the sickness was sore in the land,
      And neither planets nor herbs assuaged,
They took their lives in their lancet-hand
      And, oh, what a wonderful war they waged!
Yes, when the crosses were chalked on the door-
      (Yes, when the terrible dead-cart rolled! )
      Excellent courage our fathers bore--
            None too learned, but nobly bold
            Into the fight went our fathers of old.

If it be certain, as Galen says--
      And sage Hippocrates holds as much--
"That those afflicted by doubts and dismays
      Are mightily helped by a dead man's touch,"
Then, be good to us, stars above!
      Then, be good to us, herbs below!
We are afflicted by what we can prove,
      We are distracted by what we know.
                        So-ah, so!
            Down from your heaven or up from your mould
            Send us the hearts of our Fathers of old!

12. The Thousandth Man - based on Ecclesiastes 7:28 from Verse: 1885-1918, 1902

One man in a thousand, Solomon says,
Will stick more close than a brother.
And it's worth while seeking him half your days
If you find him before the other.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine depend
On what the world sees in you,
But the Thousandth Man will stand your friend
With the whole round world agin you.

'Tis neither promise nor prayer nor show
Will settle the finding for 'ee,
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of 'em go
By your looks, or your acts, or your glory,
But if he finds you and you find him,
The rest of the world don't matter;
For the Thousandth Man will sink or swim
With you in any water.

You can use his purse with no more talk
Than he uses yours for his spendings,
And laugh and meet in you daily walk
As thought there had been no lendings.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of 'em call
For silver and gold in their dealings;
But the Thousandth Man he's worth 'em all,
Because you can show him your feelings.

His wrong's your wrong, and his right's your right,
In season or out of season.
Stand up and back it in all men's sight-
With that for your only reason!
Nine thousand and ninety-nine can't bide
The shame or mocking or laughter,
But the Thousandth man will stand by your side
To the gallows-foot--and after!

13. L'Envoi from Verse: 1885-1918, 1902

When Earth's last picture is painted, and the tubes are twisted and dried,
When the oldest colors have faded and the youngest critic has died,
We shall rest, and, faith, we shall need it--lie down for an eon or two,
Till the Master of All Good Workmen shall set us to work anew.

And those who were good shall be happy: they shall sit in a golden chair;
They shall splash at a ten-league canvas with brushes of comet's hair;
They shall find real saints to draw from--Magdalene, Peter, and Paul;
They shall work for an age at a sitting and never be tired at all!

And only The Master shall praise us, and only The Master shall blame;
And no one shall work for the money, and no one shall work for fame,
But each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star,
Shall draw the Thing as he sees It for the God of Things as They are!

14. The Way Through the Woods from Verse: 1885-1918, 1902

They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ringdove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.

Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night air cools on the trout-ring'd pools
Where the otter whistles his mate
(They fear not men in the woods
Because they see so few),
You will hear the beat of a horse's feet
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods . . .
But there is no road through the woods.

15. The Explanation from Verse: 1885-1918, 1902

Love and Death once ceased their strife
At the Tavern of Man's Life.
Called for wine, and threw--alas!--
Each his quiver on the grass.
When the bout was o'er they found
Mingled arrows strewed the ground.
Hastily they gathered then
Each the loves and lives of men.
Ah, the fateful dawn deceived!
Mingled arrows each one sheaved;
Death's dread armoury was stored
With the shafts he most abhorred;
Love's light quiver groaned beneath
Venom-headed darts of Death.

Thus it was they wrought our woe
At the Tavern long ago.
Tell me, do our masters know,
Loosing blindly as they fly,
Old men love while young men die?

16. If from Verse: 1885-1918, 1902

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 all 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!

(J. P. McEvoy wrote a version of this for girls.)

17. Gunga Din from Verse: 1885-1918, 1902

The opinions expressed in this poem are not all the opinions of the Advisory, and they are not necessarily the opinions of Rudyard Kipling, either. There is such a thing as "voice" in works of literature, including poetry. Who is really speaking here? Is this the voice of Kipling, or is the voice that of the hard-bitten, guilt-ridden, possibly somewhat drunk common soldier telling us the story?
Kipling's poem includes translations for some Hindi words. A "bhisti" (or "bhishti") is a water-carrier. "Hitherao" means "Come here."
Although many people refer to "Gunga Din" and pronounce "Din" to rhyme with"pin," the rhymes in the poem make it clear that it should be pronounced "deen."
"Dot an' carry one" refers to a limp--Gunga Din probably had a peg leg--he dots the dirt with one leg and then carries the other over.
More notes at kiplingsociety.co.uk

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!       (panee lao - bring water quickly)
      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!"      (Harry by - Oh, brother)
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       (juldee - be quick)
             Or I'll marrow you this minute              (marrow - hit)
      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,              (mussick - water skin)
'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!

18. The Overland Mail from Verse: 1885-1918, 1902

In the name of the Empress of India, make way,
      O Lords of the Jungle wherever you roam,
The woods are astir at the close of the day--
      We exiles are waiting for letters from Home--
Let the robber retreat; let the tiger turn tail,
In the name of the Empress, the Overland Mail!

With a jingle of bells as the dusk gathers in,
      He turns to the foot-path that leads up the hill--
The bags on his back, and a cloth round his chin,
      And, tucked in his waist-belt, the Post Office bill;--
"Despatched on this date, as received by the rail,
Per runner, two bags of the Overland Mail."

Is the torrent in spate? He must ford it or swim.
      Has the rain wrecked the road? He must climb by the cliff.
Does the tempest cry "Halt"? What are tempests to him?
      The service admits not a "but" or an "if";
While the breath's in his mouth, he must bear without fail,
In the Name of the Empress, the Overland Mail.

From aloe to rose-oak, from rose-oak to fir,
      From level to upland, from upland to crest,
From rice-field to rock-ridge, from rock-ridge to spur,
      Fly the soft-sandalled feet, strains the brawny brown chest.
From rail to ravine--to the peak from the vale--
Up, up through the night goes the Overland Mail.

There's a speck on the hillside, a dot on the road--
      A jingle of bells on the foot-path below--
There's a scuffle above in the monkey's abode--
      The world is awake, and the clouds are aglow--
For the great Sun himself must attend to the hail;--
In the Name of the Empress, the Overland Mail.

19. Seal Lullaby
From "The White Seal," The Jungle Book, 1894

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.

20. Cold Iron from Rewards and Fairies, 1910

"Gold is for the mistress--silver for the maid--
Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade."

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,
"But Iron--Cold Iron--is master of them all."

So he made rebellion 'gainst the King his liege,
Camped before his citadel and summoned it to siege.
"Nay!" said the cannoneer on the castle wall,
"But Iron--Cold Iron--shall be master of you all."

Woe for the Baron and his knights so strong,
When the cruel cannon-balls laid 'em all along;
He was taken prisoner, he was cast in thrall,
And Iron--Cold Iron--was master of it all!

Yet his King spake kindly (ah, how kind a Lord!)
"What if I release thee now and give thee back thy sword?"
"Nay!" said the Baron, "mock not at my fall,
For Iron--Cold Iron--is master of men all."

"Tears are for the craven, prayers are for the clown--
Halters for the silly neck that cannot keep a crown."

"As my loss is grievous, so my hope is small,
For Iron--Cold Iron--must be master of men all!"

Yet his King made answer (few such Kings there be!)
"Here is Bread and here is Wine--sit and sup with me.
Eat and drink in Mary's Name, the whiles I do recall
How Iron--Cold Iron--can be master of men all!"

He took the Wine and blessed it. He blessed and brake the Bread.
With His own Hands He served Them, and presently He said:
"See! These Hands they pierced with nails, outside My city wall,
Show Iron--Cold Iron--to be master of men all.

"Wounds are for the desperate, blows are for the strong.
Balm and oil for weary hearts all cut and bruised with wrong.
I forgive thy treason--I redeem thy fall--
For Iron--Cold Iron--must be master of men all!"

"Crowns are for the valiant--sceptres for the bold!
Thrones and powers for mighty men who dare to take and hold!"

"Nay!" said the Baron, kneeling in his hall,
"But Iron--Cold Iron--is master of men all!
Iron out of Calvary is master of men all!"

21. Recessional from Verse: 1885-1918, 1902

Composed for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, 1897

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!

22. A Pilgrim's Way from Verse: 1885-1918, 1902

I do not look for holy saints to guide me on my way,
Or male and female devilkins to lead my feet astray.
If these are added, I rejoice---if not, I shall not mind,
So long as I have leave and choice to meet my fellow-kind.
For as we come and as we go (and deadly-soon go we!)
The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

Thus I will honour pious men whose virtue shines so bright
(Though none are more amazed than I when I by chance do right),
And I will pity foolish men for woe their sins have bred
(Though ninety-nine per cent. of mine I brought on my own head).
      And, Amorite or Eremite, or General Averagee,
      The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

And when they bore me overmuch, I will not shake mine ears,
Recalling many thousand such whom I have bored to tears.
And when they labour to impress, I will not doubt nor scoff;
Since I myself have done no less and---sometimes pulled it off.
      Yea, as we are and we are not, and we pretend to be,
      The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

And when they work me random wrong, as oftentimes hath been,
I will not cherish hate too long (my hands are none too clean).
And when they do me random good I will not feign surprise.
No more than those whom I have cheered with wayside charities.
      But, as we give and as we take---whate'er our takings be---
      The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

But when I meet with frantic folk who sinfully declare
There is no pardon for their sin, the same I will not spare
Till I have proved that Heaven and Hell which in our hearts we have
Show nothing irredeemable on either side of the grave.
      For as we live and as we die---if utter Death there be---
      The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

Deliver me from every pride---the Middle, High, and Low---
That bars me from a brother's side, whatever pride he show.
And purge me from all heresies of thought and speech and pen
That bid me judge him otherwise than I am judged. Amen!
That I may sing of Crowd or King or road-borne company,
That I may labour in my day, vocation and degree,
To prove the same in deed and name, and hold unshakenly
(Where'er I go, whate'er I know, whoe'er my neighbor be)
This single faith in Life and Death and to Eternity:
"The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!''

23. Cities and Thrones and Powers from Verse: 1885-1918, 1902

Cities and Thrones and Powers,
      Stand in Time's eye,
Almost as long as flowers,
      Which daily die:
But, as new buds put forth,
      To glad new men,
Out of the spent and unconsidered Earth,
      The Cities rise again.

This season's Daffodil,
      She never hears
What change, what chance, what chill,
      Cut down last year's:
But with bold countenance,
      And knowledge small,
Esteems her seven days' continuance
      To be perpetual.

So time that is o'er kind,
      To all that be,
Ordains us e'en as blind,
      As bold as she:
That in our very death,
      And burial sure,
Shadow to shadow, well-persuaded, saith,
      "See how our works endure!"

24. "For All We Have and Are" (A War Poem) from Verse: 1885-1918, 1902

The name Hun originally referred to the Asian invaders of Europe led by Attila, who were noted for their cruelty.

For all we have and are,
For all our children's fate,
Stand up and meet the war.
The Hun is at the gate!
Our world has passed away
In wantonness o'erthrown.
There is nothing left to-day
But steel and fire and stone.
      Though all we knew depart,
      The old commandments stand:
      "In courage keep your heart,
      In strength lift up your hand."

Once more we hear the word
That sickened earth of old:
"No law except the sword
Unsheathed and uncontrolled,"
Once more it knits mankind,
Once more the nations go
To meet and break and bind
A crazed and driven foe.

Comfort, content, delight--
The ages' slow-bought gain--
They shrivelled in a night,
Only ourselves remain
To face the naked days
In silent fortitude,
Through perils and dismays
Renewd and re-renewed.
      Though all we made depart,
      The old commandments stand:
      "In patience keep your heart,
      In strength lift up your hand."

No easy hopes or lies
Shall bring us to our goal,
But iron sacrifice
Of body, will, and soul.
There is but one task for all--
For each one life to give.
Who stands if freedom fall?
Who dies if England live?

25. The Power of the Dog from Verse: 1885-1918, 1902

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie--
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find--it's your own affair--
But . . . you've given your heart for a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!);
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone--wherever it goes--for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart for the dog to tear.

We've sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we've kept 'em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long--
So why in Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

26. The Choice from Verse: 1885-1918, 1902

The American Spirit Speaks:

To the Judge of Right and Wrong
     With Whom fulfillment lies
Our purpose and our power belong,
     Our faith and sacrifice.

Let Freedom's land rejoice!
     Our ancient bonds are riven;
Once more to use the eternal choice
     Of good or ill is given.

Not at a little cost,
     Hardly by prayer or tears,
Shall we recover the road we lost
     In the drugged and doubting years.

But after the fires and the wrath,
     But after searching and pain,
His Mercy opens us a path
     To live with ourselves again.

In the Gates of Death rejoice!
     We see and hold the good--
Bear witness, Earth, we have made our choice
     For Freedom's brotherhood.

Then praise the Lord Most High
     Whose Strength hath saved us whole,
Who bade us choose that the Flesh should die
     And not the living Soul!

27. The Gods of the Copybook Headings from Sunday Pictorial, October 1919 and Harper's Magazine, January 1920

As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

28. The Glory of the Garden from Verse: 1885-1918, 1902

Our England is a garden that is full of stately views,
Of borders, beds and shrubberies and lawns and avenues,
With statues on the terraces and peacocks strutting by;
But the Glory of the Garden lies in more than meets the eye.

For where the old thick laurels grow, along the thin red wall,
You'll find the tool- and potting-sheds which are the heart of all,
The cold-frames and the hot-houses, the dungpits and the tanks,
The rollers, carts and drain-pipes, with the barrows and the planks.

And there you'll see the gardeners, the men and 'prentice boys
Told off to do as they are bid and do it without noise;
For, except when seeds are planted and we shout to scare the birds,
The Glory of the Garden it abideth not in words.

And some can pot begonias and some can bud a rose,
And some are hardly fit to trust with anything that grows;
But they can roll and trim the lawns and sift the sand and loam,
For the Glory of the Garden occupieth all who come.

Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
By singing:--"Oh, how beautiful!" and sitting in the shade,
While better men than we go out and start their working lives
At grubbing weeds from gravel-paths with broken dinner-knives.

There's not a pair of legs so thin, there's not a head so thick,
There's not a hand so weak and white, nor yet a heart so sick,
But it can find some needful job that's crying to be done,
For the Glory of the Garden glorifieth every one.

Then seek your job with thankfulness and work till further orders,
If it's only netting strawberries or killing slugs on borders;
And when your back stops aching and your hands begin to harden,
You will find yourself a partner in the Glory of the Garden.

Oh, Adam was a gardener, and God who made him sees
That half a proper gardener's work is done upon his knees,
So when your work is finished, you can wash your hands and pray
For the Glory of the Garden that it may not pass away!
And the Glory of the Garden it shall never pass away!

29. Mesopotamia from Verse: 1885-1918, 1902


They shall not return to us, the resolute, the young,
      The eager and whole-hearted whom we gave:
But the men who left them thriftily to die in their own dung,
      Shall they come with years and honour to the grave?

They shall not return to us; the strong men coldly slain
      In sight of help denied from day to day:
But the men who edged their agonies and chid them in their pain,
      Are they too strong and wise to put away?

Our dead shall not return to us while Day and Night divide–
      Never while the bars of sunset hold.
But the idle-minded overlings who quibbled while they died,
      Shall they thrust for high employments as of old?

Shall we only threaten and be angry for an hour:
      When the storm is ended shall we find
How softly but how swiftly they have sidled back to power
      By the favour and contrivance of their kind?

Even while they soothe us, while they promise large amends,
      Even while they make a show of fear,
Do they call upon their debtors, and take counsel with their friends,
      To confirm and re-establish each career?

Their lives cannot repay us–their death could not undo–
      The shame that they have laid upon our race.
But the slothfulness that wasted and the arrogance that slew,
      Shall we leave it unabated in its place?

30. Imperious Wool-booted Sage

The "imperious wool-booted sage" was Edna Irwin, the god-daughter of Kipling's friends. He wrote this for her third birthday in 1888.

Imperious wool-booted sage
      Though your years as men reckon are Three
You are wiser than ten times your age,
      And your faithfullest servants are we.

Oh fluffy Philosopher small
      You can't read our rhymes it is true,
For dinner and play is your All
      And Creation is--you!

You cry for the moon and--you get it,
      You laugh and our spirits have mirth,
And the least of your orders we set it
      O'er everything else upon earth.

We know we are older--we may be
      More wise than yourself, O my sweet,
But today you are Queen of us, Baby,
      And we come with our gifts to your feet.

31. The Dane-Geld from A School History of England, 1911

A.D. 980-1016

It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
      To call upon a neighbour and to say:--
"We invaded you last night--we are quite prepared to fight,
      Unless you pay us cash to go away."

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
      And the people who ask it explain
That you've only to pay 'em the Dane-geld
      And then you'll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
      To puff and look important and to say:--
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
      We will therefore pay you cash to go away."

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
      But we've proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
      You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
      For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
      You will find it better policy to say:--

"We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
      No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
      And the nation that plays it is lost!"

32. from The Female of the Species from Verse: 1885-1918, 1902

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 wayside 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.

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 others 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 honor 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 cool discussion, but the instant, white-hot wild
Wakened female of the species warring as for spouse and child.

So it comes 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 enthrall 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!

33. A Carol from Verse: 1885-1918, 1902

Our Lord Who did the Ox command
      To kneel to Judah's King,
He binds His frost upon the land
      To ripen it for Spring--
To ripen it for Spring, good sirs,
      According to His Word.
Which well must be as ye can see--
      And who shall judge the Lord?

When we poor fenmen skate the ice
      Or shiver on the wold,
We hear the cry of a single tree
      That breaks her heart in the cold--
That breaks her heart in the cold, good sirs,
      And rendeth by the board.
Which well must be as ye can see--
      And who shall judge the Lord?

Her wood is crazed and little worth
      Excepting as to burn,
That we may warm and make our mirth
      Until the Spring return--
Until the Spring return, good sirs,
      When Christians walk abroad;
Which well must be as ye can see--
      And who shall judge the Lord?

God bless the master of this house,
      And all who sleep therein!
And guard the fens from pirate folk,
      And keep us all from sin,
To walk in honesty, good sirs,
      Of thought and deed and word!
Which shall befriend our latter end . . .
      And who shall judge the Lord?

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