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Rudyard Kipling's poetry
The Mother Lodge
My new-cut Ashlar
The Palace
A Pilgrim’s Way
The Widow of Windsor
Other prose references
Born at Bombay, India, December 30, 1865, Rudyard Kipling, the author of a dozen contemporary classics, was educated in England. He returned, however, to India and took a position on the staff of "The Lahore Civil and Military Gazette," writing for the Indian press until about 1890, when he went to England, where he has lived ever since, with the exception of a short sojourn in America.
Even while he was still in India he achieved a popular as well as a literary success with his dramatic and skillful tales, sketches and ballads of Anglo-Indian life.
Soldiers Three (1888) was the first of six collections of short stories brought out in "Wheeler’s Railway Library." They were followed by the far more sensitive and searching Plain Tales from the Hills, Under the Deodars and The Phantom 'Rikshaw, which contains two of the best and most convincing ghost-stories in recent literature.
Oak Bay Hotel
Kipling is claimed to have written a short poem, A night out, in 1907 in Victoria, BC.
These tales, however, display only one side of Kipling’s extraordinary talents. As a writer of children’s stories, he has few living equals. Wee Willie Winkie, which contains that stirring and heroic fragment "Drums of the Fore and Aft," is only a trifle less notable than his more obviously juvenile collections. Just-So Stories and the two Jungle Books (prose interspersed with lively rhymes) are classics for young people of all ages. Kim, the novel of a super-Mowgli grown up, is a more mature masterpiece.
Considered solely as a poet he is one of the most vigorous and unique figures of his time. The spirit of romance surges under his realities. His brisk lines conjure up the tang of a countryside in autumn, the tingle of salt spray, the rude sentiment of ruder natures, the snapping of a banner, the lurch and rumble of the sea. His poetry is woven of the stuff of myths; but it never loses its hold on actualities. Kipling himself in his poem "The Benefactors" (from The Years Between [1919]) writes:
Ah! What avails the classic bent
  And what the cultured word,
Against the undoctored incident
  That actually occurred?
Kipling won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907. His varied poems have finally been collected in a remarkable one-volume Inclusive Edition (1885-1918), an indispensable part of any student’s library. This gifted and prolific creator, whose work was affected by the war, has frequently lapsed into bombast and a journalistic imperialism. At his best he is unforgettable, standing mountain-high above his host of imitators. His home is at Burwash, Sussex. 9

Gunga Din
You may talk o' gin an' beer
When you're quartered safe out 'ere,
An' you're sent to penny-fights an' Aldershot it;
But if 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 black-faced crew
The finest man I knew
Was our regimental bhisti, 1 Gunga Din.
    It was "Din! Din! Din!
    You limping lump o' brick-dust, Gunga Din!
    Hi! slippy hitherao!
    Water, get it! Panee lao! 2
    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 twisty piece o' 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!" 3
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 4 in it,
    Or I'll marrow 5 you this minute,
    If you don't fill up my helmet, Gunga Din!"
'E would dot an' carry one
Till the longest day was done,
An' 'e didn't seem to know the use o' fear.
If we charged or broke or cut,
You could bet your bloomin' nut,
'E'd be waitin' fifty paces right flank rear.
With 'is mussick 6 on 'is back,
'E would skip with our attack,
An' watch us till the bugles made "Retire."
An' for all 'is dirty 'ide,
'E was white, clear white, inside
When 'e went to tend the wounded under fire!
    It was "Din! Din! Din!"
    With the bullets kickin' dust-spots on the green.
    When the cartridges ran out,
    You could 'ear the front-files shout:
    "Hi! ammunition-mules an' Gunga Din!"
I sha'n'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' 'e plugged me where I bled,
An' 'e guv me 'arf-a-pint o' water--green;
It was crawlin' an' 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
In 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 pore damned souls,
An' I'll get a swig in Hell from Gunga Din!
    Din! Din! Din!
    You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!
    Tho' I've belted you an' flayed you,
    By the livin' Gawd that made you,
    You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

The Return 7
Peace is declared, and I return
  To 'Ackneystadt, but not the same;
Things 'ave transpired which made me learn
  The size and meanin' of the game.
I did no more than others did,
  I don't know where the change began;
I started as a average kid,
  I finished as a thinkin' man.
If England was what England seems
  An' not the England of our dreams,
But only putty, brass, an' paint,
  'Ow quick we'd drop 'er! But she ain't!
Before my gappin' mouth could speak
  I 'eard it in my comrade’s tone;
I saw it on my neighbour’s cheek
  Before I felt it flush my own.
An' last it come to me--not pride,
  Nor yet conceit, but on the 'ole
(If such a term may be applied),
  The makin’s of a bloomin' soul.
Rivers at night that cluck an' jeer,
  Plains which the moonshine turns to sea,
Mountains that never let you near,
  An' stars to all eternity;
An' the quick-breathin' dark that fills
  The 'ollows of the wilderness,
When the wind worries through the 'ills--
  These may 'ave taught me more or less.
Towns without people, ten times took,
  An' ten times left an' burned at last;
An' starvin' dogs that come to look
  For owners when a column passed;
An' quiet, 'omesick talks between
  Men, met by night, you never knew
Until--'is face--by shellfire seen--
  Once--an' struck off. They taught me, too.
The day’s lay-out--the mornin' sun
  Beneath your 'at-brim as you sight;
The dinner-'ush from noon till one,
  An' the full roar that lasts till night;
An' the pore dead that look so old
  An' was so young an hour ago,
An' legs tied down before they're cold--
  These are the things which make you know.
Also Time runnin' into years--
  A thousand Places left be'ind--
An' Men from both two 'emispheres
  Discussin' things of every kind;
So much more near than I 'ad known,
  So much more great than I 'ad guessed--
An' me, like all the rest, alone--
  But reachin' out to all the rest!
So 'ath it come to me--not pride,
  Nor yet conceit, but on the 'ole
(If such a term may be applied),
  The makin’s of a bloomin' soul.
But now, discharged, I fall away
  To do with little things again....
Gawd, 'oo knows all I cannot say,
  Look after me in Thamesfontein!
If England was what England seems
  An' not the England of our dreams,
But only putty, brass, an' paint,
  'Ow quick we'd chuck 'er! But she ain't!

The Conundrum of the Workshops
When the flush of a newborn sun fell first on Eden’s green and gold,
Our father Adam sat under the Tree and scratched with a stick in the mold;
And the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart,
Till the Devil whispered behind the leaves: "It’s pretty, but is it Art?"
Wherefore he called to his wife and fled to fashion his work anew--
The first of his race who cared a fig for the first, most dread review;
And he left his lore to the use of his sons--and that was a glorious gain
When the Devil chuckled: "Is it Art?" in the ear of the branded Cain.
They builded a tower to shiver the sky and wrench the stars apart,
Till the Devil grunted behind the bricks: "It’s striking, but is it Art?"
The stone was dropped by the quarry-side, and the idle derrick swung,
While each man talked of the aims of art, and each in an alien tongue.
They fought and they talked in the north and the south, they talked and they fought in the west,
Till the waters rose on the jabbering land, and the poor Red Clay had rest--
Had rest till the dank blank-canvas dawn when the dove was preened to start,
And the Devil bubbled below the keel: "It’s human, but is it Art?"
The tale is old as the Eden Tree--as new as the new-cut tooth--
For each man knows ere his lip-thatch grows he is master of Art and Truth;
And each man hears as the twilight nears, to the beat of his dying heart,
The Devil drum on the darkened pane: "You did it, but was it Art?"
We have learned to whittle the Eden Tree to the shape of a surplice-peg,
We have learned to bottle our parents twain in the yolk of an addled egg,
We know that the tail must wag the dog, as the horse is drawn by the cart;
But the Devil whoops, as he whooped of old: "It’s clever, but is it Art?"
When the flicker of London’s sun falls faint on the club-room’s green and gold,
The sons of Adam sit them down and scratch with their pens in the mold--
They scratch with their pens in the mold of their graves, and the ink and the anguish start
When the Devil mutters behind the leaves: "It’s pretty, but is it art?"
Now, if we could win to the Eden Tree where the four great rivers flow,
And the wreath of Eve is red on the turf as she left it long ago,
And if we could come when the sentry slept, and softly scurry through,
By the favor of God we might know as much--as our father Adam knew.

An Astrologer’s Song 8
To the Heavens above us
  O look and behold
The Planets that love us
  All harnessed in gold!
What chariots, what horses
  Against us shall bide
While the Stars in their courses
  Do fight on our side?
All thought, all desires,
  That are under the sun,
Are one with their fires,
  As we also are one:
All matter, all spirit,
  All fashion, all frame,
Receive and inherit
  Their strength from the same.
(Oh, man that deniest
  All power save thine own,
Their power in the highest
  Is mightily shown.
Not less in the lowest
  That power is made clear.
Oh, man, if thou knowest,
  What treasure is here!)
Earth quakes in her throes
  And we wonder for why!
But the blind planet knows
  When her ruler is nigh;
And, attuned since Creation
  To perfect accord,
She thrills in her station
  And yearns to her Lord.
The waters have risen,
  The springs are unbound--
The floods break their prison,
  And ravin around.
No rampart withstands 'em,
  Their fury will last,
Till the Sign that commands 'em
  Sinks low or swings past.
Through abysses unproven
  And gulfs beyond thought,
Our portion is woven,
  Our burden is brought.
Yet They that prepare it,
  Whose Nature we share,
Make us who must bear it
  Well able to bear.
Though terrors o'ertake us
  We'll not be afraid.
No power can unmake us
  Save that which has made.
Nor yet beyond reason
  Or hope shall we fall--
All things have their season,
  And Mercy crowns all!
Then, doubt not, ye fearful--
  The Eternal is King--
Up, heart, and be cheerful,
  And lustily sing:--
What chariots, what horses
  Against us shall bide
While the Stars in their courses
  Do fight on our side?

1. The bhisti, or water-carrier, attached to regiments in India, is often one of the most devoted of the Queen’s servants. He is also appreciated by the men. [back]
2. Bring water swiftly. [back]
3. Tommy Atkins' equivalent for "O Brother!" [back]
4. Speed. [back]
5. Hit you. [back]
6. Water-skin. [back]
7. From The Five Nations by Rudyard Kipling. Copyright by Doubleday, Page & Co. and A. P. Watt & Son. [back]
8. From Rewards and Fairies by Rudyard Kipling. Copyright by Doubleday, Page and Co. and A. P. Watt & Son. [back]
9. Text excerpted from Louis Untermeyer, ed. Modern British Poetry. New York : Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1920. [back]
Cf.: Harry Carr, "Kipling and the Craft." Ars Quatuor Coronatorum. vol. 77, London: 1964. pp. 213-253. Also see: vol. 77, pp. 207-8.


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