Kipling Friday

As the Bell Clinks

As I left the Halls at Lumley, rose the vision of a comely
Maid last season worshipped dumbly, watched with fervor from afar;
And I wondered idly, blindly, if the maid would greet me kindly.
That was all -- the rest was settled by the clinking tonga-bar.
Yea, my life and hers were coupled by the tonga coupling-bar.

For my misty meditation, at the second changing-station,
Suffered sudden dislocation, fled before the tuneless jar
Of a Wagner obbligato, scherzo, doublehand staccato,
Played on either pony's saddle by the clacking tonga-bar --
Played with human speech, I fancied, by the jigging, jolting bar.

"She was sweet," thought I, "last season, but 'twere surely wild unreason
Such tiny hope to freeze on as was offered by my Star,
When she whispered, something sadly: 'I -- we feel your going badly!'"
"And you let the chance escape you?" rapped the rattling tonga-bar.
"What a chance and what an idiot!" clicked the vicious tonga-bar.

Heart of man -- O heart of putty! Had I gone by Kakahutti,
On the old Hill-road and rutty, I had 'scaped that fatal car.
But his fortune each must bide by, so I watched the milestones slide by,
To "You call on Her to-morrow!" -- no fugue with cymbals by the bar --
You must call on Her to-morrow!" -- post-horn gallop by the bar.

Yet a further stage my goal on -- we were whirling down to Solon,
With a double lurch and roll on, best foot foremost, ganz und gar --
"She was very sweet," I hinted. "If a kiss had been imprinted?" --
"'Would ha' saved a world of trouble!" clashed the busy tonga-bar.
"'Been accepted or rejected!" banged and clanged the tonga-bar.

Then a notion wild and daring, 'spite the income tax's paring,
And a hasty thought of sharing -- less than many incomes are,
Made me put a question private, you can guess what I would drive at.
"You must work the sum to prove it," clanked the careless tonga-bar.
"Simple Rule of Two will prove it," lilted back the tonga-bar.

It was under Khyraghaut I mused. "Suppose the maid be haughty --
There are lovers rich -- and forty -- wait some wealthy Avatar?
Answer, monitor untiring, 'twixt the ponies twain perspiring!"
"Faint heart never won fair lady," creaked the straining tonga-bar.
"Can I tell you ere you ask Her?" pounded slow the tonga-bar.

Last, the Tara Devi turning showed the lights of Simla burning,
Lit my little lazy yearning to a fiercer flame by far.
As below the Mall we jingled, through my very heart it tingled --
Did the iterated order of the threshing tonga-bar --
Try your luck -- you can't do better!" twanged the loosened tongar-bar.

Kipling Friday

The King and the Sea

17TH JULY 1935

After His Realms and States were moved 
To bare their hearts to the King they loved, 
Tendering themselves in homage and devotion, 
The Tide Wave up the Channel spoke
To all those eager, exultant folk:-
"Hear now what Man was given you by the Ocean! 

"There was no thought of Orb or Crown
When the single wooden chest went down
To the steering-flat, and the careless Gunroom haled him 
To learn by ancient and bitter use,
How neither Favour nor Excuse,
Nor aught save his sheer self henceforth availed him. 

"There was no talk of birth or rank
By the slung hammock or scrubbed plank 
In the steel-grated prisons where 1 cast him; 
But niggard hours and a narrow space
For rest-and the naked light on his face-
While the ship's traffic flowed, unceasing, past him. 

"Thus I schooled him to go and come-
To speak at the word-at a sign be dumb; 
To stand to his task, not seeking others to aid him; 
To share in honour what praise might fall
For the task accomplished, and-over all-
To swallow rebuke in silence. Thus I made him. 

"I loosened every mood of the deep
On him, a child and sick for sleep,
Through the long watches that no time can measure, 
When I drove him, deafened and choked and blind, 
At the wave-tops cut and spun by the wind; 
Lashing him, face and eyes, with my displeasure.

"I opened him all the guile of the seas-
Their sullen, swift-sprung treacheries, 
To be fought, or forestalled, or dared, or dismissed with laughter.
I showed him Worth by Folly concealed, 
And the flaw in the soul that a chance revealed 
(Lessons remembered-to bear fruit thereafter). 
"I dealt him Power beneath his hand,
For trial and proof, with his first Command-
Himself alone, and no man to gainsay him. 
On him the End, the Means, and the Word, 
And the harsher judgment if he erred, 
And-outboard-Ocean waiting to betray him. 

"Wherefore, when he came to be crowned, 
Strength in Duty held him bound,
So that not Power misled nor ease ensnared him
Who had spared himself no more than his seas had spared him!"
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
After His Lieges, in all His Lands,
Had laid their hands between His hands,
And His ships thundered service and devotion, 
The Tide Wave, ranging the Planet, spoke 
On all Our foreshores as it broke:-
"Know now what Man 1 gave you-I, the Ocean!"

Kipling Friday

The King’s Pilgrimage

King George V’s Visit to War Semeteries In France

OUR King went forth on pilgrimage
His prayers and vows to pay 
To them that saved our heritage 
And cast their own away.

And there was little show of pride,
Or prows of belted steel,
For the clean-swept oceans every side 
Lay free to every keel.

And the first land he found, it was shoal and banky ground-
Where the broader seas begin,
And a pale tide grieving at the broken harbour-mouth 
Where they worked the death-ships in.

And there was neither gull on the wing, 
Nor wave that could not tell
Of the bodies that were buckled in the life-buoy's ring 
That slid from swell to swell.

All that they had they gave-they gave; and they shall not return, 
For these are those that have no grave where any heart may mourn.

And the next land he found, it was low and hollow ground-
Where once the cities stood,
But the man-high thistle had been master of it all, 
Or the bulrush by the flood.

And there was neither blade of grass, 
Nor lone star in the sky,
But shook to see some spirit pass 
And took its agony.

And the next land he found, it was bare and hilly ground-
Where once the bread-corn grew,
But the fields were cankered and the water was defiled, 
And the trees were riven through.

And there was neither paved highway, 
Nor secret path in the wood,
But had borne its weight of the broken clay 
And darkened 'neath the blood.

Father and mother they put aside, and the nearer love also-
An hundred thousand men that died whose graves shall no man know.

And the last land he found, it was fair and level ground 
About a carven stone,
And a stark Sword brooding on the bosom of the Cross 
Where high and low are one.

And there was grass and the living trees, 
And the flowers of the spring,
And there lay gentlemen from out of all the seas 
That ever called him King.

'Twixt Nieuport sands and the eastward lands where the Four 
Red Rivers spring,
Five hundred thousand gentlemen of those that served their King 

All that they had they gave-they gave-
In sure and single faith.
There can no knowledge reach the grave 
To make them grudge their death 
Save only if they understood
That, after all was done,
We they redeemed denied their blood 
And mocked the gains it won.


Kipling Friday

The Instructor

(Non-commissioned Officers of the Line)

At times when under cover I 'ave said,
To keep my spirits up an' raise a laugh,
'Earin 'im pass so busy over-'ead--
Old Nickel-Neck, 'oo isn't on the Staff --
"There's one above is greater than us all"

Before 'im I 'ave seen my Colonel fall,
An 'watched 'im write my Captain's epitaph,
So that a long way off it could be read--
He 'as the knack o' makin' men feel small--
Old Whistle Tip, 'oo isn't on the Staff.

There is no sense in fleein' (I 'ave fled),
Better go on an' do the belly-crawl,
An' 'ope' 'e'1l 'it some other man instead
Of you 'e seems to 'unt so speshual--
Fitzy van Spitz, 'oo isn't on the Staff.

An' thus in mem'ry's cinematograph,
Now that the show is over, I recall
The peevish voice an' 'oary mushroom 'ead
Of  'im we owned was greater than us all,
'Oo give instruction to the quick an' the dead--
The Shudderin' Beggar--not upon the Staff!

Kipling Friday

In Springtime

My garden blazes brightly with the rose-bush and the peach,
  And the koil sings above it, in the siris by the well,
From the creeper-covered trellis comes the squirrel's chattering speech,
  And the blue jay screams and flutters where the cheery sat-bhai dwell.
But the rose has lost its fragrance, and the koil's note is strange;
  I am sick of endless sunshine, sick of blossom-burdened bough.
Give me back the leafless woodlands where the winds of Springtime range --
  Give me back one day in England, for it's Spring in England now!

Through the pines the gusts are booming, o'er the brown fields blowing chill,
  From the furrow of the ploughshare streams the fragrance of the loam,
And the hawk nests on the cliffside and the jackdaw in the hill,
  And my heart is back in England 'mid the sights and sounds of Home.
But the garland of the sacrifice this wealth of rose and peach is,
  Ah! koil, little koil, singing on the siris bough,
In my ears the knell of exile your ceaseless bell like speech is --
  Can you tell me aught of England or of Spring in England now?

* koil -- Then Indian bell-bird.
  sat-bhai -- Indian starlings.

Kipling Friday

Hymn of the Triumphant Airman



OH, LONG had we paltered
      With bridle and girth
Ere those horses were haltered 
      That gave us the Earth-

Ere the Flame and the Fountain, 
      The Spark and the Wheel,
Sank Ocean and Mountain 
      Alike 'neath our keel.

But the Wind in her blowing, 
      The bird on the wind,
Made naught of our going, 
      And left us behind. 

Till the gale was outdriven,
      The gull overflown,
And there matched us in Heaven 
      The Sun-God alone.

He only the master
      We leagued to o'erthrow,
He only the faster
      And, therefore, our foe! 
.   .   .   .   .
Light steals to uncurtain 
      The dim-shaping skies
That arch and make certain 
      Where he shall arise. 

We lift to the onset.
      We challenge anew. 
>From sunrise to sunset,
      Apollo, pursue! 
.   .   .   .   .
What ails thee, O Golden? 
      Thy Chariot is still? 
What Power has withholden 
      The Way from the Will? 

Lo, Hesper hath paled not, 
      Nor darkness withdrawn. 
The Hours have availed not 
      To lead forth the Dawn! 

Do they flinch from full trial, 
      The Coursers of Day? 
The shade on our dial 
      Moves swifter than they! 

We fleet, but thou stayest 
      A God unreleased;
And still thou delayest
      Low down in the East-

A beacon faint-burning,
      A glare that decays
As the blasts of our spurning 
      Blow backward its blaze. 

The mid-noon grows colder, 
      Night rushes to meet,
And the curve of Earth's shoulder 
      Heaves up thy defeat.

Storm on at that portal,
      We have thee in prison! 
Apollo, immortal,
      Thou hast not arisen!

Kipling Friday

The Flight


When the grey geese heard the Fool’s tread Too near to where they lay, They lifted neither voice nor head, But took themselves away. No water broke, no pinion whirred- There went no warning call. The steely, sheltering rushes stirred A little–that was all. Only the osiers understood, And the drowned meadows spied What else than wreckage of a flood Stole outward on that tide. But the far beaches saw their ranks Gather and greet and grow By myriads on the naked banks Watching their sign to go; Till, with a roar of wings that churned The shivering shoals to foam, Flight after flight took air and turned To find a safer home; And, far below their steadfast wedge, They heard (and hastened on) Men thresh and clamour through the sedge Aghast that they were gone! And, when men prayed them come anew And nest where they were bred, “Nay, fools foretell what knaves will do,” Was all the grey geese said.

Kipling Friday

The Derelict


And reports the derelict Mary Pollock still at sea.

   I was the staunchest of our fleet
   Till the sea rose beneath my feet
Unheralded, in hatred past all measure.
   Into his pits he stamped my crew,
   Buffeted, blinded, bound and threw,
Bidding me eyeless wait upon his pleasure.

   Man made me, and my will
   Is to my maker still,
Whom now the currents con, the rollers steer --
   Lifting forlorn to spy
   Trailed smoke along the sky,
Falling afraid lest any keel come near!

   Wrenched as the lips of thirst,
   Wried, dried, and split and burst,
Bone-bleached my decks, wind-scoured to the graining;
   And, jarred at every roll
   The gear that was my soul
Answers the anguish of my beams' complaining.

   For life that crammed me full,
   Gangs of the prying gull
That shriek and scrabble on the riven hatches.
   For roar that dumbed the gale,
   My hawse-pipes' guttering wail,
Sobbing my heart out through the uncounted watches.

   Blind in the hot blue ring
   Through all my points I swing --
Swing and return to shift the sun anew.
   Blind in my well-known sky
   I hear the stars go by,
Mocking the prow that cannot hold one true.

   White on my wasted path
   Wave after wave in wrath
Frets 'gainst his fellow, warring where to send me.
   Flung forward, heaved aside,
   Witless and dazed I bide
The mercy of the comber that shall end me.

   North where the bergs careen,
   The spray of seas unseen
Smokes round my head and freezes in the falling.
   South where the corals breed,
   The footless, floating weed
Folds me and fouls me, strake on strake upcrawling.

   I that was clean to run
   My race against the sun --
Strength on the deep, am bawd to all disaster;
   Whipped forth by night to meet
   My sister's careless feet,
And with a kiss betray her to my master.

   Man made me, and my will
   Is to my maker still --
To him and his, our peoples at their pier:
   Lifting in hope to spy
   Trailed smoke along the sky,
Falling afraid lest any keel come near!

Kipling Friday

A British-Roman Song

(A. D. 406)

“A Centurion of the Thirtieth” — Puck of Pook’s Hill

My father's father saw it not,
  And I, belike, shall never come 
To look on that so-holy spot --
              That very Rome --

Crowned by all Time, all Art, all Might,
  The equal work of Gods and Man,
City beneath whose oldest height --
               The Race began!

 Soon to send forth again a brood,
   Unshakable, we pray, that clings
 To Rome's thrice-hammered hardihood --
              In arduous things.

 Strong heart with triple armour bound,
   Beat strongly, for thy life-blood runs,
 Age after Age, the Empire round --
              In us thy Sons

 Who, distant from the Seven Hills,
      Loving and serving much, require
 Thee -- thee to guard 'gainst home-born ills
             The  Imperial Fire!


Kipling Friday

The Birthright

“The Propagation of Knowledge”
From “Debits and Credits” (1919-1923)

The miracle of our land's speech--so known
And long received, none marvel when 'tis shown!

We have such wealth as Rome at her most pride
Had not or (having) scattered not so wide;
Nor with such arrant prodigality,
Beneath her any pagan's foot let lie...
Lo! Diamond that cost some half their days
To find and t'other half to bring to blaze:
Rubies of every heat, wherethrough we scan
The fiercer and more fiery heart of man:
Emerald that with the uplifted billow vies,
And Sapphires evening remembered skies:
Pearl perfect, as immortal tears must show,
Bred, in deep waters, of a piercing woe;
And tender Turkis, so with charms y-writ,
Of woven gold, Time dares not bite on it.
Thereafter, in all manners worked and set,
Jade, coral, amber, crystal ivories, jet,--
Showing no more than various fancies, yet
Each a Life's token or Love's amulet
Which things, through timeless arrogance of use,
We neither guard nor garner, but abuse;
So that our scholars--nay, our children-fling
In sport or jest treasure to arm a King;
And the gross crowd, at feast or market, hold
Traffic perforce with dust of gems and gold!

Kipling Friday

Beast and Man in India

Written for John Lockwood Kipling's
They  killed a Child to please the Gods
In Earth's young penitence,
And I have bled in that Babe's stead
Because of innocence.

I bear the sins of sinful men
That have no sin of my own,
They drive me forth to Heaven's wrath
Unpastured and alone.

I am the meat of sacrifice,        
The ransom of man's guilt,
For they give my life to the altar-knife
Wherever shrine is built.
                               The Goat.

Between the waving tufts of jungle-grass,
Up from the river as the twilight falls,
Across the dust-beclouded plain they pass
On to the village walls.

Great is the sword and mighty is the pen,
But over all the labouring ploughman's blade--
For on its oxen and its husbandmen
An Empire's strength is laid.
                            The Oxen.

The torn boughs trailing o'er the tusks aslant,
The saplings reeling in the path he trod,
Declare his might--our lord the Elephant,   
Chief of the ways of God.

The black bulk heaving where the oxen pant,
The bowed head toiling where the guns careen,
Declare our might--our slave the Elephant,
And servant of the Queen.
                            The Elephant.

Dark children of the mere and marsh,
Wallow and waste and lea,
Outcaste they wait at the village gate
With folk of low degree.

Their pasture is in no man's land,
Their food the cattle's scorn;
Their rest is mire and their desire
The thicket and the thorn.

But woe to those that break their sleep,
And woe to those that dare
To rouse the herd-bull from his keep,
The wild boar from his lair!
                                 Pigs and Buffaloes.

The beasts are very wise,
Their mouths are clean of lies,
They talk one to the other,
Bullock to bullock's brother
Resting after their labours,
Each in stall with his neighbours.
But man with goad and whip,
Breaks up their fellowship,
Shouts in their silky ears
Filling their soul with fears.
When he has ploughed the land,
He says:  "They understand."
But the beasts in stall together,
Freed from the yoke and tether,
Say as the torn flanks smoke:
"Nay, 'twas the whip that spoke."

Kipling Friday

A return to my humble roots. Kipling Friday Returns!


The Anvil

Norman Conquest, 1066

ENGLAND'S on the anvil--hear the hammers ring--
      Clanging from the Severn to the Tyne!
Never was a blacksmith like our Norman King--
      England's being hammered, hammered, hammered into line!

England's on the anvil!  Heavy are the blows!
      (But the work will be a marvel when it's done.)
Little bits of Kingdoms cannot stand against their foes.
      England's being   hammered  hammered, hammered into one!

There shall be one people--it shall serve one Lord--
       (Neither Priest nor Baron shall escape!)
It shall have one  speech  and  law,  soul  and  strength  and  sword.
      England's  being  hammered,  hammered,  hammered  into

Tennyson Friday

The Charge of the Light Brigade

by Alfred Lord Tennyson


Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.
‘Forward the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!’ he said.
Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!’
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
    Someone had blunder’d.
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
Into the valley of Death,
    Rode the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
    Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death
Into the mouth of hell
    Rode the six hundred.
Flash’d all their sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turn’d in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
    All the world wonder’d.
Plunged in battery smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke.
Cossack and Russian
Reel’d from the sabre-stroke
    Shatter’d and sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not,
    Not the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
    Volley’d and thundr’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of hell,
All that was left of them,
    Left of six hundred.
When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
    All the world wonder’d.
Honor the charge they made!
Honor the Light Brigade,
    Noble six hundred.

Tennyson Friday

The Captain

A Legend of the Navy

by Alfred Lord Tennyson


He that only rule by terror
    Doeth grievous wrong.
Deep as hell I count his error.
    Let him hear my song.
Brave the Captain was; the seamen
    Made a gallant crew,
Gallant sons of English freemen,
    Sailors bold and true,
But they hated his oppression;
    Stern he was and rash,
So for every light transgression
    Doom’d them to the lash.
Day by day more hard and cruel
    Seem’d the Captain’s mood.
Secret wrath like smother’d fuel
    Burnt in each men’s blood.
Yet he hoped to purchase glory
    Hoped to make the name
Of his vessel great in story,
    Wheresoe’er he came.
So they past by capes and islands,
    Many a harbor-mouth,
Sailing under palmy highlands
    Far within the South.
On a day when they were going
    O’er the lone expanse,
In the north, her canvas flowing,
    Rose a ship of France.
Then the Captain’s color heighten’d,
    Joyful came his speech;
But the cloudy gladness lighten’d
    In the eyes of each.
‘Chase,’ he said; the sheep flew forward,
    And the wind did blow;
Stately, lightly went she northward,
    Till she near’d the foe.
Then they look’d at him they hated,
    Had what they desired;
Mute with folded arms they waited –
    Not a gun was fired.
But they heard the foeman’s thunder
    Roaring out their doom;
All the air was turn in sunder,
    Crashing went the boom,
Spars were splinter’d, decks were shatter’d,
    Bullets fell like rain;
Over mast and deck were scatter’d
    Blood and brains of men.
Spars were splinter’d; decks were broken;
    Every mother’s son –
Down they dropt – nor word were spoken –
    Each behind his gun.
On the decks as they were lying,
    Were their faces grim.
In their blood, as they lay dying,
    Did they smile on him.
Those in whom he had reliance
    For his noble name
With one smile of still defiance
    Sold him into shame.
Shame and wrath his heart confounded,
    Pale he turn’d and red,
Till himself was deadly wounded
    Falling on the dead.
Dismal error! fearful slaughter!
    Years have wander’d by;
Side by side beneath the water
    Crew and Captain lie;
There the sunlit ocean tosses
    O’er them the mouldering,
And the lonely seabird crosses
    With one waft of the wing.

Tennyson Friday

The Sailor Boy

by Alfred Lord Tennyson


He rose at dawn and fired with hope,
    Shot o’er the seething harbor-bar,
And reach’d the ship and caught the rope,
    And whistled to the morning star.

And while he whistled long and loud 
    He heard a fierce mermaiden cry,
‘O boy, tho’ thou are young and proud,
    I see the place where thou wilt lie.

‘The sands and yeasty surges mix
    In cave s about the dreary bay,
And on thy ribs the limpet sticks,
    And in thy heart the scrawl shall play.’

‘Fool,’ he answer’d , ‘death is sure
    To those that stay and those that roam,
But I will nevermore endure  
    To sit with empty hands at home.

‘My mother clings about my neck,
    My sisters crying,  :”Stay for shame;”
My father raves of death and wreck,- 
    They are all to blame, they are all to blame.

‘God help me! save I take my part 
    Of danger on the roaring sea,
A devil rises in my heart,
    Far worse than any death to me.’