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Poetry and Prose
Thursday, 15 June 2006
The Hour of the Angels: Rudyard Kipling
Mood:  lyrical
Now Playing: Jazz: Doug Riley
Topic: Kipling: Rudyard
The Hour of the Angel
"Stalky"
From "Land and Sea Tales" (1919-1923)
Sooner or late--in earnest or in jest --
(But the stakes are no jest) Ithuriel's Hour
Will spring on us, for the first time, the test
Of our sole unbacked competence and power
Up to the limit of our years and dower
Of judgment--or beyond. But here we have
Prepared long since our garland or our grave.

For, at that hour, the sum of all our past,
Act, habit, thought, and passion, shall be cast
In one addition, be it more or less,
And as that reading runs so shall we do;
Meeting, astounded, victory at the last,
Or, first and last, our own unworthiness.
And none can change us though they die to save!


Posted by ladymaggic at 9:16 AM EDT
The Glory of the Garden: Rudyard Kipling
Mood:  lyrical
Now Playing: Jazz: Doug Riley
Topic: Kipling: Rudyard
The Glory of the Garden
Our England is a garden that is full of stately views,
Of borders, beds and shrubberies and lawns and avenues,
With statues on the terraces and peacocks strutting by;
But the Glory of the Garden lies in more than meets the eye.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted by ladymaggic at 9:15 AM EDT
Gift of the Sea: Rudyard Kipling
Mood:  lyrical
Now Playing: Jazz: Doug Riley
Topic: Kipling: Rudyard
The Gift of the Sea
The dead child lay in the shroud,
And the widow watched beside;
And her mother slept, and the Channel swept
The gale in the teeth of the tide.

But the mother laughed at all.
"I have lost my man in the sea,
And the child is dead. Be still," she said,
"What more can ye do to me?"

The widow watched the dead,
And the candle guttered low,
And she tried to sing the Passing Song
That bids the poor soul go.

And "Mary take you now," she sang,
"That lay against my heart."
And "Mary smooth your crib to-night,"
But she could not say "Depart."

Then came a cry from the sea,
But the sea-rime blinded the glass,
And "Heard ye nothing, mother?" she said,
"'Tis the child that waits to pass."

And the nodding mother sighed:
"'Tis a lambing ewe in the whin,
For why should the christened soul cry out
That never knew of sin?"

"O feet I have held in my hand,
O hands at my heart to catch,
How should they know the road to go,
And how should they lift the latch?"

They laid a sheet to the door,
With the little quilt atop,
That it might not hurt from the cold or the dirt,
But the crying would not stop.

The widow lifted the latch
And strained her eyes to see,
And opened the door on the bitter shore
To let the soul go free.

There was neither glimmer nor ghost,
There was neither spirit nor spark,
And "Heard ye nothing, mother?" she said,
"'Tis crying for me in the dark."

And the nodding mother sighed:
"'Tis sorrow makes ye dull;
Have ye yet to learn the cry of the tern,
Or the wail of the wind-blown gull?"

"The terns are blown inland,
The grey gull follows the plough.
'Twas never a bird, the voice I heard,
O mother, I hear it now!"

"Lie still, dear lamb, lie still;
The child is passed from harm,
'Tis the ache in your breast that broke your rest,
And the feel of an empty arm."

She put her mother aside,
"In Mary's name let be!
For the peace of my soul I must go," she said,
And she went to the calling sea.

In the heel of the wind-bit pier,
Where the twisted weed was piled,
She came to the life she had missed by an hour,
For she came to a little child.

She laid it into her breast,
And back to her mother she came,
But it would not feed and it would not heed,
Though she gave it her own child's name.

And the dead child dripped on her breast,
And her own in the shroud lay stark;
And "God forgive us, mother," she said,
"We let it die in the dark!"


Posted by ladymaggic at 9:13 AM EDT
City of Sleep: Rudyard Kipling
Mood:  lyrical
Now Playing: Jazz: Doug Riley
Topic: Kipling: Rudyard
The City of Sleep
("The Brushwood Boy" -- The Day's Work)
Over the edge of the purple down,
Where the single lamplight gleams,
Know ye the road to the Merciful Town
That is hard by the Sea of Dreams --
Where the poor may lay their wrongs away,
And the sick may forget to weep?
But we -- pity us! Oh, pity us!
We wakeful; ah, pity us! --
We must go back with Policeman Day --
Back from the City of Sleep!

Weary they turn from the scroll and crown,
Fetter and prayer and plough --
They that go up to the Merciful Town,
For her gates are closing now.
It is their right in the Baths of Night
Body and soul to steep,
But we -- pity us! ah, pity us!
We wakeful; ah, pity us! --
We must go back with Policeman Day --
Back from the City of Sleep!

Over the edge of the purple down,
Ere the tender dreams begin,
Look -- we may look -- at the Merciful Town,
But we may not enter in!
Outcasts all, from her guarded wall
Back to our watch we creep:
We -- pity us! ah, pity us!
We wakeful; ah, pity us! --
We that go back with Policeman Day --
Back from the City of Sleep!


Posted by ladymaggic at 9:09 AM EDT
The Broken Men: Rudyard Kipling
Mood:  lyrical
Now Playing: Jazz: Doug Riley
Topic: Kipling: Rudyard
The Broken Men
1902
For things we never mention,
For Art misunderstood --
For excellent intention
That did not turn to good;
From ancient tales' renewing,
From clouds we would not clear --
Beyond the Law's pursuing
We fled, and settled here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted by ladymaggic at 9:05 AM EDT
Blue Roses : Rudyard Kipling
Mood:  lyrical
Topic: Kipling: Rudyard
Blue Roses
The Light that Failed
Roses red and roses white
Plucked I for my love's delight.
She would none of all my posies--
Bade me gather her blue roses.

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

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

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


Posted by ladymaggic at 9:01 AM EDT
Before a Midnight Breaks in Storm: Rudard Kipling
Mood:  lyrical
Now Playing: Jazz
Topic: Kipling: Rudyard
"Before a Midnight Breaks in Storm"
1903
Before a midnight breaks in storm,
Or herded sea in wrath,
Ye know what wavering gusts inform
The greater tempest's path;
Till the loosed wind
Drive all from mind,
Except Distress, which, so will prophets cry,
O'ercame them, houseless, from the unhinting sky.

Ere rivers league against the land
In piratry of flood,
Ye know what waters steal and stand
Where seldom water stood.
Yet who will note,
Till fields afloat,
And washen carcass and the returning well,
Trumpet what these poor heralds strove to tell?

Ye know who use the Crystal Ball
(To peer by stealth on Doom),
The Shade that, shaping first of all,
Prepares an empty room.
Then doth It pass
Like breath from glass,
But, on the extorted Vision bowed intent,
No man considers why It came or went.

Before the years reborn behold
Themselves with stranger eye,
And the sport-making Gods of old,
Like Samson slaying, die,
Many shall hear
The all-pregnant sphere,
Bow to the birth and sweat, but--speech denied--
Sit dumb or--dealt in part--fall weak and wide.

Yet instant to fore-shadowed need
The eternal balance swings;
That winged men, the Fates may breed
So soon as Fate hath wings.
These shall possess
Our littleness,
And in the imperial task (as worthy) lay
Up our lives' all to piece one giant Day.

Posted by ladymaggic at 8:59 AM EDT
Beast and Man in India: Rudyard Kipling
Mood:  lyrical
Now Playing: Jazz: Doug Riley
Topic: Kipling: Rudyard
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."


Posted by ladymaggic at 8:54 AM EDT
If I have given you delight: Rudyard Kipling
Mood:  lyrical
Topic: Kipling: Rudyard
If I have given you delight
By aught that I have done,
Let me lie quiet in that night
Which shall be yours anon:

And for the little, little, span
The dead are born in mind,
Seek not to question other than
The books I leave behind.

Posted by ladymaggic at 8:51 AM EDT
The Epitaph: Thomas Gray
Mood:  lyrical
Now Playing: Jazz: Doug Riley
Topic: Thomas Gray
The Epitaph
Here rests his head upon the lap of earth,
A youth, to fortune and to fame unknown;
Fair science frown'd not on his humble birth,
And melancholy mark'd him for her own.


Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere;
Heav'n did a recompense as largely send:
He gave to mis'ry all he had, a tear,
He gain'd from heav'n ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.


No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
(There they alike in trembling hope repose),
The bosom of his father, and his God.


Posted by ladymaggic at 8:47 AM EDT

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