Saturday, June 20, 2009

What the People Said

(June 21st, 1887)

By the well, where the bullocks go
Silent and blind and slow --
By the field where the young corn dies
In the face of the sultry skies,
They have heard, as the dull Earth hears
The voice of the wind of an hour,
The sound of the Great Queen's voice:
"My God hath given me years,
Hath granted dominion and power:
And I bid you, O Land, rejoice."

And the ploughman settles the share
More deep in the grudging clod;
For he saith: "The wheat is my care,
And the rest is the will of God.
He sent the Mahratta spear
As He sendeth the rain,
And the Mlech, in the fated year,
Broke the spear in twain.
And was broken in turn. Who knows
How our Lords make strife?
It is good that the young wheat grows,
For the bread is Life."

Then, far and near, as the twilight drew,
Hissed up to the scornful dark
Great serpents, blazing, of red and blue,
That rose and faded, and rose anew.
That the Land might wonder and mark
"To-day is a day of days," they said,
"Make merry, O People, all!"
And the Ploughman listened and bowed his head:
"To-day and to-morrow God's will," he said,
As he trimmed the lamps on the wall.

"He sendeth us years that are good,
As He sendeth the dearth,
He giveth to each man his food,
Or Her food to the Earth.
Our Kings and our Queens are afar --
On their peoples be peace --
God bringeth the rain to the Bar,
That our cattle increase."

And the Ploughman settled the share
More deep in the sun-dried clod:
"Mogul Mahratta, and Mlech from the North,
And White Queen over the Seas --
God raiseth them up and driveth them forth
As the dust of the ploughshare flies in the breeze;
But the wheat and the cattle are all my care,
And the rest is the will of God."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The White Man's Burden



Take up the White man's burden --
Send forth the best ye breed --
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness
On fluttered folk and wild --
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.

Take up the White Man's burden --
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times mad plain.
To seek another's profit,
And work another's gain.

Take up the White Man's burden --
The savage wars of peace --
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch Sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hope to nought.

Take up the White Man's burden --
No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper --
The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread,
Go make them with your living,
And mark them with your dead!

Take up the White man's burden --
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard --
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light: --
"Why brought ye us from bondage,
"Our loved Egyptian night?"

Take up the White Man's burden --
Ye dare not stoop to less --
Nor call too loud on freedom
To cloak your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your Gods and you.

Take up the White Man's burden --
Have done with childish days --
The lightly proffered laurel,
The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years,
Cold-edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Return of the Children

Neither the harps nor the crowns amused, nor the cherubs' dove-winged races--
Holding hands forlornly the Children wandered beneath the Dome,
Plucking the splendid robes of the passers-by, and with pitiful! faces
Begging what Princes and Powers refused:--"Ah, please will you let us go home?"

Over the jewelled floor, nigh weeping, ran to them Mary the Mother,
Kneeled and caressed and made promise with kisses, and drew them along to the gateway--
Yea, the all-iron unbribeable Door which Peter must guard and none other.
Straightway She took the Keys from his keeping, and opened and freed them straightway.

Then, to Her Son, Who had seen and smiled, She said: "On the night that I bore Thee,
What didst Thou care for a love beyond mine or a heaven that was not my arm?
Didst Thou push from the nipple, 0 Child, to hear the angels adore Thee
When we two lay in the breath of the kine?" And He said -- "Thou hast done no harm."

So through the Void the Children ran homeward merrily hand in hand,
Looking neither to left nor right where the breathless Heavens stood still.
And the Guards of the Void resheathed their swords, for they heard the Command:
"Shall I that have suffered the Children to come to Me hold them against their will? "

Russia To The Pacifists


God rest you, peaceful gentlemen, let nothing you dismay,
But--leave your sports a little while--the dead are borne this way!
Armies dead and Cities dead, past all count or care.
God rest you, merry gentlemen, what portent see you there?
Singing:--Break ground for a wearied host
That have no ground to keep.
Give them the rest that they covet most . . .
And who shall next to sleep, good sirs,
In such a trench to sleep?

God rest you, peaceful gentlemen, but give us leave to pass.
We go to dig a nation's grave as great as England was.
For this Kingdom and this Glory and this Power and this Pride
Three hundred years it flourished--in three hundred days it died.
Singing:--Pour oil for a frozen throng,
That lie about the ways.
Give them the warmth they have lacked so long . . .
And what shall be next to blaze, good sirs,
On such a pyre to blaze?

God rest you, thoughtful gentlemen, and send your sleep is light!
Remains of this dominion no shadow, sound, or sight,
Except the sound of weeping and the sight of burning fire,
And the shadow of a people that is trampled into mire.
Singing:--Break bread for a starving folk
That perish in the field.
Give them their food as they take the yoke . . .
And who shall be next to yield, good sirs,
For such a bribe to yield?

God rest you merry gentlemen, and keep you in your mirth!
Was ever Kingdom turned so soon to ashes, blood and earth?
'Twixt the summer and the snow-seeding-time and frost--
Arms and victual, hope and counsel, name and country lost!
Singing:--Let down by the foot and the head--
Shovel and smooth it all !
So do we bury a Nation dead . . .
And who shall be next to fall, good sirs,
With your good help to fall?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Press

The Soldier may forget his Sword,
The Sailorman the Sea,
The Mason may forget the Word
And the Priest his Litany:
The Maid may forget both jewel and gem,
And the Bride her wedding-dress--
But the Jew shall forget Jerusalem
Ere we forget the Press!

Who once hath stood through the loaded hour
Ere, roaring like the gale,
The Harrild and the Hoe devour
Their league-long paper-bale,
And has lit his pipe in the morning calm
That follows the midnight stress--
He hath sold his heart to the old Black Art
We call the daily Press.

Who once hath dealt in the widest game
That all of a man can play,
No later love, no larger fame
Will lure him long away.
As the war-horse snuffeth the battle afar,
The entered Soul, no less,
He saith: "Ha! Ha!" where the trumpets are
And the thunders of the Press!

Canst thou number the days that we fulfill,
Or the Times that we bring forth?
Canst thou send the lightnings to do thy will,
And cause them reign on earth?
Hast thou given a peacock goodly wings,
To please his foolishness?
Sit down at the heart of men and things,
Companion of the Press!

The Pope may launch his Interdict,
The Union its decree,
But the bubble is blown and the bubble is pricked
By Us and such as We.
Remember the battle and stand aside
While Thrones and Powers confess
That King over all the children of pride
Is the Press--the Press--the Press!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Buddha at Kamakura


"And there is a Japanese idol at Kamakura"

O ye who tread the Narrow Way
By Tophet-flare to Judgment Day,
Be gentle when "the heathen" pray
To Buddha at Kamakura!

To him the Way, the Law, apart,
Whom Maya held beneath her heart,
Ananda's Lord, the Bodhisat,
The Buddha of Kamakura.

For though he neither burns nor sees,
Nor hears ye thank your Deities,
Ye have not sinned with such as these,
His children at Kamakura,

Yet spare us still the Western joke
When joss-sticks turn to scented smoke
The little sins of little folk
That worship at Kamakura --

The grey-robed, gay-sashed butterflies
That flit beneath the Master's eyes.
He is beyond the Mysteries
But loves them at Kamakura.

And whoso will, from Pride released,
Contemning neither creed nor priest,
May feel the Soul of all the East
About him at Kamakura.

Yea, every tale Ananda heard,
Of birth as fish or beast or bird,
While yet in lives the Master stirred,
The warm wind brings Kamakura.

Till drowsy eyelids seem to see
A-flower 'neath her golden htee
The Shwe-Dagon flare easterly
From Burmah to Kamakura,

And down the loaded air there comes
The thunder of Thibetan drums,
And droned -- "Om mane padme hums" --
A world's-width from Kamakura.

Yet Brahmans rule Benares still,
Buddh-Gaya's ruins pit the hill,
And beef-fed zealots threaten ill
To Buddha and Kamakura.

A tourist-show, a legend told,
A rusting bulk of bronze and gold,
So much, and scarce so much, ye hold
The meaning of Kamakura?

But when the morning prayer is prayed,
Think, ere ye pass to strife and trade,
Is God in human image made
No nearer than Kamakura?

Arithmetic on the Frontier

A great and glorious thing it is
To learn, for seven years or so,
The Lord knows what of that and this,
Ere reckoned fit to face the foe --
The flying bullet down the Pass,
That whistles clear: "All flesh is grass."

Three hundred pounds per annum spent
On making brain and body meeter
For all the murderous intent
Comprised in "villanous saltpetre!"
And after -- ask the Yusufzaies
What comes of all our 'ologies.

A scrimmage in a Border Station --
A canter down some dark defile --
Two thousand pounds of education
Drops to a ten-rupee jezail --
The Crammer's boast, the Squadron's pride,
Shot like a rabbit in a ride!

No proposition Euclid wrote,
No formulae the text-books know,
Will turn the bullet from your coat,
Or ward the tulwar's downward blow
Strike hard who cares -- shoot straight who can --
The odds are on the cheaper man.

One sword-knot stolen from the camp
Will pay for all the school expenses
Of any Kurrum Valley scamp
Who knows no word of moods and tenses,
But, being blessed with perfect sight,
Picks off our messmates left and right.

With home-bred hordes the hillsides teem,
The troopships bring us one by one,
At vast expense of time and steam,
To slay Afridis where they run.
The "captives of our bow and spear"
Are cheap, alas! as we are dear.