Kipling Friday

Ford o’ Kabul River

Kabul town's by Kabul river --
 Blow the trumpet, draw the sword --
There I lef' my mate for ever,
 Wet an' drippin' by the ford.
    Ford, ford, ford o' Kabul river,
     Ford o' Kabul river in the dark!
    There's the river up and brimmin', an' there's 'arf a squadron swimmin'
     'Cross the ford o' Kabul river in the dark.

Kabul town's a blasted place --
 Blow the trumpet, draw the sword --
'Strewth I shan't forget 'is face
 Wet an' drippin' by the ford!
    Ford, ford, ford o' Kabul river,
     Ford o' Kabul river in the dark!
    Keep the crossing-stakes beside you, an' they will surely guide you
     'Cross the ford o' Kabul river in the dark.

Kabul town is sun and dust --
 Blow the trumpet, draw the sword --
I'd ha' sooner drownded fust
 'Stead of 'im beside the ford.
    Ford, ford, ford o' Kabul river,
     Ford o' Kabul river in the dark!
    You can 'ear the 'orses threshin', you can 'ear the men a-splashin',
     'Cross the ford o' Kabul river in the dark.

Kabul town was ours to take --
 Blow the trumpet, draw the sword --
I'd ha' left it for 'is sake --
 'Im that left me by the ford.
    Ford, ford, ford o' Kabul river,
     Ford o' Kabul river in the dark!
    It's none so bloomin' dry there; ain't you never comin' nigh there,
     'Cross the ford o' Kabul river in the dark?

Kabul town'll go to hell --
 Blow the trumpet, draw the sword --
'Fore I see him 'live an' well --
 'Im the best beside the ford.
    Ford, ford, ford o' Kabul river,
     Ford o' Kabul river in the dark!
    Gawd 'elp 'em if they blunder, for their boots'll pull 'em under,
     By the ford o' Kabul river in the dark.

Turn your 'orse from Kabul town --
 Blow the trumpet, draw the sword --
'Im an' 'arf my troop is down,
 Down an' drownded by the ford.
    Ford, ford, ford o' Kabul river,
     Ford o' Kabul river in the dark!
    There's the river low an' fallin', but it ain't no use o' callin'
     'Cross the ford o' Kabul river in the dark.

Kipling Friday

Butterflies

Wireless” — Traffic and Discoveries


Eyes aloft, over dangerous places,
The children follow the butterflies,
And, in the sweat of their upturned faces,
Slash with a net at the empty skies.

So it goes they fall amid brambles,
And sting their toes on the nettle-tops,
Till, after a thousand scratches and scrambles,
They wipe their brows and the hunting stops.

Then to quiet them comes their father
And stills the riot of pain and grief,
Saying,  "Little ones,  go and gather
Out of my garden a cabbage-leaf.

"You will find on it whorls and clots of
Dull grey eggs that, properly fed,
Turn, by way of the worm, to lots of
Glorious butterflies raised from the dead."  .  .  .

"Heaven is beautiful, Earth is ugly,"
The three-dimensioned preacher saith;
So we must not look where the snail and the slug lie
For Psyche's birth.  .  .  .  And that is our death!

Kipling Friday

Dane-Geld

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 pays it is lost!"

Kipling Friday

For To Admire

The Injian Ocean sets an' smiles
 So sof', so bright, so bloomin' blue;
There aren't a wave for miles an' miles
 Excep' the jiggle from the screw.
The ship is swep', the day is done,
 The bugle's gone for smoke and play;
An' black ag'in the settin' sun
 The Lascar sings, "Hum deckty hai!"                 ["I'm looking out."]

For to admire an' for to see,
 For to be'old this world so wide --
It never done no good to me,
 But I can't drop it if I tried!

I see the sergeants pitchin' quoits,
 I 'ear the women laugh an' talk,
I spy upon the quarter-deck
 The orficers an' lydies walk.
I thinks about the things that was,
 An' leans an' looks acrost the sea,
Till, spite of all the crowded ship
 There's no one lef' alive but me.

The things that was which I 'ave seen,
 In barrick, camp, an' action too,
I tells them over by myself,
 An' sometimes wonders if they're true;
For they was odd -- most awful odd --
 But all the same, now they are o'er,
There must be 'eaps o' plenty such,
 An' if I wait I'll see some more.

Oh, I 'ave come upon the books,
 An' frequent broke a barrick-rule,
An' stood beside an' watched myself
 Be'avin' like a bloomin' fool.
I paid my price for findin' out,
 Nor never grutched the price I paid,
But sat in Clink without my boots,
 Admirin' 'ow the world was made.

Be'old a crowd upon the beam,
 An' 'umped above the sea appears
Old Aden, like a barrick-stove
 That no one's lit for years an' years!
I passed by that when I began,
 An' I go 'ome the road I came,
A time-expired soldier-man
 With six years' service to 'is name.

My girl she said, "Oh, stay with me!"
 My mother 'eld me to 'er breast.
They've never written none, an' so
 They must 'ave gone with all the rest --
With all the rest which I 'ave seen
 An' found an' known an' met along.
I cannot say the things I feel,
 And so I sing my evenin' song:

For to admire an' for to see,
 For to be'old this world so wide --
It never done no good to me,
 But I can't drop it if I tried!

Kipling Friday

Hunting-Song of the Seeonee Pack

(From The Jungle Book)

As the dawn was breaking the Sambhur belled --
         Once, twice and again!
And a doe leaped up, and a doe leaped up
From the pond in the wood where the wild deer sup.
This I, scouting alone, beheld,
         Once, twice, and again!

As the dawn was breaking the Sambhur belled --
         Once, twice and again!
And a wolf stole back, and a wolf stole back
To carry the word to the waiting Pack,
And we sought and we found and we bayed on his track
         Once, twice and again!

As the dawn was breaking the Wolf-Pack yelled
         Once, twice and again!
Feet in the jungle that leave no mark!
Eyes that can see in the dark -- the dark!
Tongue -- give tongue to it! Hark! O Hark!
         Once, twice and again!

His spots are the joy of the Leopard: his horns are the Buffalo's pride,
Be clean, for the strength of the hunter is known by the gloss of his hide.

If ye find that the bullock can toss you, or the heavy-browed Sambhur can gore;
Ye need not stop work to inform us; we knew it ten seasons before.

Oppress not the cubs of the stranger, but hail them as Sister and Brother,
For though they are little and fubsy, it may be the Bear is their mother.

"There is none like to me!" says the Cub in the pride of his earliest kill;
But the Jungle is large and the Cub he is small. Let him think and be still.

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

1922
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

1929

FLYING EAST TO WEST AT 1000 M.P.H.

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

1930

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

1894

And reports the derelict Mary Pollock still at sea.

SHIPPING NEWS.
   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!