Labors in the Afternoon

Labors in the Afternoon

The height of a Man’s Labor comes in the Afternoon.
Morning’s running gait gives way
to the slow, sure steps of diligence.
He wipes his brow, feeling the waning sun,
its waxing heat, and brilliant light.
Morning’s promises are burned away
forging what tasks remain, chosen and unchosen.
Stooping and sighing, (while no one is looking), his eyes
gaze West, and he feels the Truth of Evening:
Many tasks of Morning will go unfinished ere the failing of the light.
Standing straight, he lays aside tools unneeded and
takes ones not touched since sunrise.
In the Afternoon, he will do what can be done,
accepting Wisdoms not seen in the Dawn.
His chores are not less; he will yet sweat and strain.
But a song escapes his lips, and he feels alive again,
as he Labors in the Afternoon.

 

Bryan G. Stephens 2015

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To Love is to Wait

The stages of development of spousal love are described in our literature, sometimes one stage at a time, sometimes in consideration of all the stages.

Andrew Klavan, who does not join us here and is therefore ultimately foolish, made in a recent podcast a wise recommendation on this subject. He recommended the poem Wordsworth wrote about his own spouse: She was a phantom of delight. It recounts the progression of the poet’s understanding of his lady, from initial sensory impact, to appreciation of manners, ultimately to respect for her transcendent humanity: a Being breathing thoughtful breath.

In a similar vein is a poem that starts off Love is waiting  . . .  

It does not mean Love is waiting for you,  or any such stuff.  It means that loving constitutes waiting.  Look; you will see.

Miłość

Jest czekaniem
na niebieski mrok
na zieloność traw
na piesczczotę rzęs.

Love

Is waiting
for the blue dusk
for the green grass
for the embrace of eyelids.

(As the Italians say:  amore fulmineo!  thunderbolt love!)

But we continue:

Czekaniem
na kroki

szelesty
listy
na pukanie do drzwi

Waiting
for footsteps
rustling
letters
for the knock on the door

Czekaniem
na sełnienie

trwanie
zrozumienie

Waiting
for fulfillment
constancy
understanding

Czekaniem
na potwierdzenie

na kryzk protestu

Waiting
for confirmation
for cry of protest

(Mutual trust gives us the freedom to be mutually, and non-fatally, candid.)

Czekaniem
na sen
na świt
na koniec świata

Waiting
for sleep
for dawn
for the end of the world

(And so we can be constant through the life we are given.)

The poet is Małgorzata Hillar (1930-1995.)  The translator is Morosław Lipiński. My editorial interruptions are in parentheses. Nice clean layout is here or here.

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“The Apple-Tree, the Singing, and the Gold”

In the Hippolytus of Euripides, matters proceed as the usual unstoppable train-wreck: swiftly at times and slowly at other times; hopeful for a few moments but dreadful mostly.  Goddess makes Queen fall in love with own stepson; Queen tries to shake it off, but fails; humans and deities all clamor about, baffling progress and escalating strife; Queen starts gearing up to do something not only stupid but also evil; Chorus gets a whiff of it and just wishes to get the heck out of there.

Here is Gilbert Murray’s translation of the Chorus as they fantasize escape destinations:  a cave, a cloud, the beach, a riverbank, and then hit on the ideal place: the Garden of the Hesperides, of course.

Could I take me to some cavern for mine hiding,
In the hill-tops where the Sun scarce hath trod;
Or a cloud make the home of mine abiding,
As a bird among the bird-droves of God!
Could I wing me to my rest amid the roar
Of the deep Adriatic on the shore,

Where the waters of Eridanus are clear,
And Phaëthon’s sad sisters by his grave
Weep into the river, and each tear
Gleams, a drop of amber, in the wave.

To the Strand of the Daughters of the Sunset,
The Apple-tree, the singing, and the gold;
Where the Mariner must stay him from his onset,
And the red wave is tranquil as of old;
Yea, beyond that Pillar of the End
That Atlas guarded, would I wend;
Where a voice of living waters never ceaseth
In God’s quiet garden by the sea,
And Earth, the ancient life-giver, increaseth
Joy among the meadows, like a tree.

(The Mariner must stay him from his onset because past Gibraltar is the Atlantic Ocean, where it is rare to sail and survive.)

Men dream of place of rest and escape from strife.  Sometimes they do so to survive, as for example a prisoner in a place of death, closing his eyes for an interior playing of some Beethoven or Brahms, of which he knows every note because he performed in the symphony orchestra before his arrest.

Sometimes they do so to keep up their own courage as they act as they can within the strife to fight the bad guys. Hippolytus came up in the course of Rosemary Sutcliff’s Eagle of the Ninth trilogy of young-adult historical novels, of which I was reading the second while comfortably tucked into my electric lap robe the other day.  In The Silver Branch, Allectus has murdered Carausius, Emperor of Britain in the 290s, and usurped his throne.  Legionaries and former legionaries and their friends who disapprove of the murder form a covert network to smuggle men over to Gaul to join the ranks of Constantius there.  The leader of this network keeps an apple tree, the best little apple-tree in all Britain, in his closed courtyard, to remind him of the place, or the existence, of rest and peace.  He will not enjoy either until justice is reestablished, so he continues with his work.  He hides a couple of young soldiers in his attic and lends them his copy of Hippolytus to read, so that they can dream of the apple-tree, the singing, and the gold.

But then there are those who think of this place as an escape from responsibility.  Galsworthy, in The Apple Tree, conjured up a character who used an innocent young woman that way on a trip through the countryside.  The grander-scale utopians conceive an idea for public policy, call it good, urge everyone to support it, and care not how many bodies they have to trample in order to make their way toward it.  Every day these people are in the news.  The Garden has different guises: a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, a World Without Countries, the Family of New York.  But I doubt that the people urging their countrymen to such places truly believe the places exist.  It is more likely that most of them see human problems and react in one, or both, of two ways. Either they figure out a con game by which to profit from the strife, or they just make noise about their Garden in order to avoid their responsibility actually to try to assist the people whom they see are having trouble.  That being the case, as I think it is, it is a grave error in public discourse to cede to them a single atom of benevolent intent.

Here is Gilbert Murray (1866-1957) – bless his heart.  If you decide you need to read one of the plays, go for one of his translations, I say.  He will give you beauty.

Here is Rosemary Sutcliff (1920-1992) who as a child invalid found her Garden of the Hesperides in the history and literature of the Classical West and of England.  She found, and she made for us, beauty and joy and hope.

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Today’s Kipling – The Song of the Old Guard

Reading yet another posting going into weird conspiracy theories about Donald Trump on “another” site brought this poem to mind. It seems some people believe all we have to do is remove Trump and the Good Old Days for GOPe will return . . .

The Song of the Old Guard

Rudyard Kipling

Army Reform- After Boer war “The Army of a Dream”-Traffics and Discoveries

Know this, my brethren, Heaven is clear
And all the clouds are gone–
The Proper Sort shall flourish now,
Good times are coming on”–
The evil that was threatened late
To all of our degree
Hath passed in discord and debate,
And, Hey then up go we!

A common people strove in vain
To shame us unto toil,
But they are spent and we remain,
And we shall share the spoil
According to our several needs
As Beauty shall decree,
As Age ordains or Birth concedes,
And, Hey then up go we!

And they that with accursed zeal
Our Service would amend,
Shall own the odds and come to heel
Ere worse befall their end:
For though no naked word be wrote
Yet plainly shall they see
What pinneth Orders on their coat,
And, Hey then up go we!

Our doorways that, in time of fear,
We opened overwide
Shall softly close from year to year
Till all be purified;
For though no fluttering fan be heard .
Nor chaff be seen to flee–
The Lord shall winnow the Lord’s Preferred–
And, Hey then up go we!

Our altars which the heathen brake
Shall rankly smoke anew,
And anise, mint and cummin take
Their dread and sovereign due,
Whereby the buttons of our trade
Shall soon restored be
With curious work in gilt and braid,
And, Hey then up go we!

Then come, my brethren, and prepare
The candlesticks and bells,
The scarlet, brass, and badger’s hair
Wherein our Honour dwells,
And straitly fence and strictly keep
The Ark’s integrity
Till Armageddon break our sleep . . .
And, Hey then go we!

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Today’s Kipling – The Jacket

It is New Year’s Day, the arrival of which and the day of which is celebrated with drink. (In some cases and appropriately, with strong drink.) So what better way to mark the day with a Kipling poem that celebrates drink and mentions champagne?

(For those wondering, the Arabi they are chasing is Colonel Ahmed ‘Urabi (also spelled Orabi and Arabi) who led a rebellion against Egypt’s Khedive. It started in 1879 and ran until 1882. Foreign troops, including British soldiers were “invited” in. The invitation was accepted by Britain and France in order to protect their investment in the Suez Canal. More about the background of the poem can be found here.)

The Jacket

Rudyard Kipling

Through the Plagues of Egyp’ we was chasin’ Arabi,
Gettin’ down an’ shovin’ in the sun;
An’ you might ‘ave called us dirty, an’ you might ha’ called us dry,
An’ you might ‘ave ‘eard us talkin’ at the gun.
But the Captain ‘ad ‘is jacket, an’ the jacket it was new —
(‘Orse Gunners, listen to my song!)
An’ the wettin’ of the jacket is the proper thing to do,
Nor we didn’t keep ‘im waiting very long.

One day they gave us orders for to shell a sand redoubt,
Loadin’ down the axle-arms with case;
But the Captain knew ‘is dooty, an’ he took the crackers out
An’ he put some proper liquor in its place.
An’ the Captain saw the shrapnel, which is six-an’-thirty clear.
(‘Orse Gunners, listen to my song!)
“Will you draw the weight,” sez ‘e, “or will you draw the beer?”
An’ we didn’t keep ‘im waitin’ very long.
For the Captain, etc.

Then we trotted gentle, not to break the bloomin’ glass,
Though the Arabites ‘ad all their ranges marked;
But we dursn’t ‘ardly gallop, for the most was bottled Bass,
An’ we’d dreamed of it since we was disembarked,
So we fired economic with the shells we ‘ad in ‘and,
(‘Orse Gunners, listen to my song!)
But the beggars under cover ‘ad the impidence to stand,
An’ we couldn’t keep ’em waitin’ very long.
And the Captain, etc.

So we finished ‘arf the liquor (an’ the Captain took champagne),
An’ the Arabites was shootin’ all the while;
An’ we left our wounded ‘appy with the empties on the plain,
An’ we used the bloomin’ guns for projectile!
We limbered up an’ galloped — there were nothin’ else to do —
(‘Orse Gunners, listen to my song!)
An’ the Battery came a-boundin’ like a boundin’ kangaroo,
But they didn’t watch us comin’ very long.
As the Captain, etc.

We was goin’ most extended — we was drivin’ very fine,
An’ the Arabites were loosin’ ‘igh an’ wide,
Till the Captain took the glacis with a rattlin’ “right incline,”
An’ we dropped upon their ‘eads the other side.
Then we give ’em quarter — such as ‘adn’t up and cut,
(‘Orse Gunners, listen to my song!)
An’ the Captain stood a limberful of fizzy somethin’ Brutt,
But we didn’t leave it fizzing very long.
For the Captain, etc.

We might ha’ been court-martialled, but it all come out all right
When they signalled us to join the main command.
There was every round expended, there was every gunner tight,
An’ the Captain waved a corkscrew in ‘is ‘and.
But the Captain ‘ad ‘is jacket, etc.

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This Week’s Kipling – The Thousandth Man

Your thousandth man does not necessarily have to be a man. My late wife, Janet was my “thousandth man. I hope I was hers.

The Thousandth Man

by Rudyard Kipling

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 your daily walk
As though 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 hundred 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!

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Knowledge Base: Verse, Line Breaks, and White Space

When including poetry or other kinds of text in which line breaks are significant, you’ll want to keep WordPress from flowing the text from line to line based upon the width of the window, but instead place the line breaks yourself.  Simply pressing the “Enter” key at the end of each line, however, makes each line its own paragraph, which adds white space between the lines and looks ugly.  For example, here is one of my favourite Dorothy Parker poems formatted this way.

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,

A medley of extemporania;

And love is a thing that can never go wrong;

And I am Marie of Roumania.

— Dorothy Parker

Ugly, isn’t it?  To indicate a line break without starting a new paragraph, hold down the “Shift” key while you press “Enter”.  This will result in single-spaced text within a single paragraph.  Here is the poem re-set using Shift-Enter.

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporania;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Roumania.
— Dorothy Parker

Much better!  If a poem contains multiple stanzas, use Shift-Enter between lines of a stanza and the regular Enter between stanzas.

Now, how did I indent the poet’s name at the end?  This involves a somewhat sneakier bit of skulduggery.  When entering the poem, I switched to the “Text” editor tab in the composition window and entered the author’s name as:

<span style="margin-left: 6em;">— Dorothy Parker</span>

This inserts white space with a width of 6 “M” characters to the left of the text enclosed in the span.  You can use this gimmick anywhere you’d like to insert white space, for example in poems by E. E. Cummings that use eccentric spacing for effect.

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Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

Two hundred years ago, halfway around the planet from where I sit, Constable painted someone fishing, or perhaps just messing around, in some little English stream I shall never see.  “Tree Trunks” is the name it goes by, and the trunks are all right, as are the shadows and sun on the grassy bank.  What touch me most are the browned leaves of autumn and the shimmering gold light created by those increasingly slanting sunbeams.

This is what we have now; we have it every year; amazing.  Further, after the last couple of weeks we deserve it more than ever.

To go with that, here is John Keats:  Ode to Autumn.

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimmed their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring?  Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too, –
While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

 

No more have we thatched roofs, thankfully, and no more standing there winnowing grain for hours by throwing basket after basket after basket – full up into the air so that the chaff can blow away.  Nor do we dose our babies with poppy juice, as my ancestors did, and lay them to snooze at the edge of the field while we go out to bend down and reap, hours by hours.

Aside from those things, Keats details all the loveliness still to be enjoyed in autumn. Our season is prolonged this year.  How goes it with you all? Have you a favorite painting or poem for autumn?

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Today’s Kipling: The Old Issue

Somehow, recent statements by  Democrats on the impossibility of civility in the political sphere and their calls for their constituents to commit acts of violence brought this poem to mind. It is one of my favorites. Back in the day when FreeRepublic was just starting (and before it began becoming a little nuts), my handle was taken from this poem: No Truce With Kings.

The Old Issue

Rudyard Kipling

October 9, 1899
(Outbreak of Boer War)

Here is nothing new nor aught unproven,” say the Trumpets,
“Many feet have worn it and the road is old indeed.
“It is the King–the King we schooled aforetime! “
(Trumpets in the marshes -in the eyot at Runnymede!)

“Here is neither haste, nor hate, nor anger,” peal the Trumpets,
“Pardon for his penitence or pity for his fall.
“It is the King!”–inexorable Trumpets–
(Trumpets round the scaffold af the dawning by Whitehall!)

. . . . . . .

“He hath veiled the Crown And hid the Scepter,” warn the Trumpets,
“He hath changed the fashion of the lies that cloak his will.
“Hard die the Kings–ah hard–dooms hard!” declare the Trumpets,
Trumpets at the gang-plank where the brawling troop-decks fill!

Ancient and Unteachable, abide–abide the Trumpets!
Once again the Trumpets, for the shuddering ground-swell brings
Clamour over ocean of the harsh, pursuing Trumpets–
Trumpets of the Vanguard that have sworn no truce with Kings!

All we have of freedom, all we use or know–
This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.

Ancient Right unnoticed as the breath we draw–
Leave to live by no man’s leave, underneath the Law.

Lance and torch and tumult, steel and grey-goose wing
Wrenched it, inch and ell and all, slowly from the king.

Till our fathers ‘stablished, after bloody years,
How our King is one with us, first among his peers.

So they bought us freedom-not at little cost–
Wherefore must we watch the King, lest our gain be lost.

Over all things certain, this is sure indeed,
Suffer not the old King: for we know the breed.

Give no ear to bondsmen bidding us endure.
Whining “He is weak and far”; crying “Time will cure.”

(Time himself is witness, till the battle joins,
Deeper strikes the rottenness in the people’s loins.)

Give no heed to bondsmen masking war with peace.
Suffer not the old King here or overseas.

They that beg us barter–wait his yielding mood–
Pledge the years we hold in trust-pawn our brother’s blood–

Howso’ great their clamour, whatsoe’er their claim,
Suffer not the old King under any name!

Here is naught unproven–here is naught to learn.
It is written what shall fall if the King return.

He shall mark our goings, question whence we came,
Set his guards about us, as in Freedom’s name.

He shall take a tribute, toll of all our ware;
He shall change our gold for arms–arms we may not bear.

He shall break his Judges if they cross his word;
He shall rule above the Law calling on the Lord.

He shall peep and mutter; and the night shall bring
Watchers ‘neath our window, lest we mock the King —

Hate and all division; hosts of hurrying spies;
Money poured in secret, carrion breeding flies.

Strangers of his counsel, hirelings of his pay,
These shall deal our Justice: sell-deny-delay.

We shall drink dishonour, we shall eat abuse
For the Land we look to–for the Tongue we use.

We shall take our station, dirt beneath his feet,
While his hired captains jeer us in the street.

Cruel in the shadow, crafty in the sun,
Far beyond his borders shall his teachings run.

Sloven, sullen, savage, secret, uncontrolled,
Laying on a new land evil of the old–

Long-forgotten bondage, dwarfing heart and brain–
All our fathers died to loose he shall bind again.

Here is nought at venture, random nor untrue
Swings the wheel full-circle, brims the cup anew.

Here is naught unproven, here is nothing hid:
Step for step and word for word–so the old Kings did!

Step by step, and word by word: who is ruled may read.
Suffer not the old Kings: for we know the breed–

All the right they promise–all the wrong they bring.
Stewards of the Judgment, suffer not this King !

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Today’s Kipling – A Pict Song

For some reason the Kavanaugh confirmation brought this poem to mind. Especially since you could slip in “Democrats” for Little Folks” without disturbing the rhythm . . .

It just seems to fit.

A Pict Song

Rudyard Kipling

(‘The Winged Hats’ — Puck of Pook’s Hill)

Rome never looks where she treads.
Always her heavy hooves fall
On our stomachs, our hearts or our heads;
And Rome never heeds when we bawl.
Her sentries pass on—that is all,
And we gather behind them in hordes,
And plot to reconquer the Wall,
With only our tongues for our swords.

We are the Little Folk—we!
Too little to love or to hate.
Leave us alone and you’ll see
How we can drag down the State!
We are the worm in the wood!
We are the rot at the root!
We are the taint in the blood!
We are the thorn in the foot!

Mistletoe killing an oak—
Rats gnawing cables in two—
Moths making holes in a cloak—
How they must love what they do!
Yes—and we Little Folk too,
We are busy as they—
Working our works out of view—
Watch, and you’ll see it some day!

No indeed! We are not strong,
But we know Peoples that are.
Yes, and we’ll guide them along
To smash and destroy you in War!
We shall be slaves just the same?
Yes, we have always been slaves,
But you—you will die of the shame,
And then we shall dance on your graves!

       We are the Little Folk, we, etc.

 

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Today’s Kipling – Gunga Din

Is there a more famous poem by Kipling than Gunga Din? Possibly the Ballad of East and West – possibly. Even poems more frequently quoted today (The Gods of the Copybook Headings or Recessional) are not as recognizable.

The poem is frequently mocked today – and easy to mock.  Yet at its core it is a refutation of racial superiority. Its ultimate message is each individual must be measured by their actions – not the condition of their birth or the color of their skin.

Gunga Din

Rudyard Kipling

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! Slippy hitherao!
Water, get it! Panee lao!      [Bring water swiftly.]
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!”           [Mr. Atkins’s equivalent for “O 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          [Be quick.]
Or I’ll marrow you this minute           [Hit you.]
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,           [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-ranks 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!

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Today’s Kipling – The Gods of the Copybook Headings

This is one of Kipling’s better known poems – likely because of the truth it contains. It will hit its century mark next year.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

1919

Rudyard Kipling

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 Heading 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!

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Today’s Kipling – Dane-Geld

It is the oldest game in history – shaking down a neighbor for tribute. Kipling wrote about it in this short poem. Which certain Presidents (Democrats all) never read.

Dane-Geld

A.D. 980-1016

Rudyard Kipling

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!

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