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A Tale of Two Cities

Written by: Rudyard Kipling | Biography
 | Quotes (67) |
 Where the sober-colored cultivator smiles
 On his byles;
Where the cholera, the cyclone, and the crow
 Come and go;
Where the merchant deals in indigo and tea,
 Hides and ghi;
Where the Babu drops inflammatory hints
 In his prints;
Stands a City -- Charnock chose it -- packed away
 Near a Bay --
By the Sewage rendered fetid, by the sewer
 Made impure,
By the Sunderbunds unwholesome, by the swamp
 Moist and damp;
And the City and the Viceroy, as we see,
 Don't agree.
Once, two hundered years ago, the trader came
 Meek and tame.
Where his timid foot first halted, there he stayed,
 Till mere trade
Grew to Empire, and he sent his armies forth
 South and North
Till the country from Peshawur to Ceylon
 Was his own.
Thus the midday halt of Charnock -- more's the pity!
 Grew a City.
As the fungus sprouts chaotic from its bed,
 So it spread --
Chance-directed, chance-erected, laid and built
 On the silt --
Palace, byre, hovel -- poverty and pride --
 Side by side;
And, above the packed and pestilential town,
 Death looked down.
But the Rulers in that City by the Sea
 Turned to flee --
Fled, with each returning spring-tide from its ills
 To the Hills.
From the clammy fogs of morning, from the blaze
 Of old days,
From the sickness of the noontide, from the heat,
 Beat retreat;
For the country from Peshawur to Ceylon
 Was their own.
But the Merchant risked the perils of the Plain
 For his gain.
Now the resting-place of Charnock, 'neath the palms,
 Asks an alms,
And the burden of its lamentation is, Briefly, this:
"Because for certain months, we boil and stew,
 So should you.
Cast the Viceroy and his Council, to perspire
 In our fire!"
And for answer to the argument, in vain
 We explain
That an amateur Saint Lawrence cannot fry:
 "All must fry!"
That the Merchant risks the perils of the Plain
 For gain.
Nor can Rulers rule a house that men grow rich in,
 From its kitchen.
Let the Babu drop inflammatory hints
 In his prints;
And mature -- consistent soul -- his plan for stealing
 To Darjeeling:
Let the Merchant seek, who makes his silver pile,
 England's isle;
Let the City Charnock pitched on -- evil day!
 Go Her way.
Though the argosies of Asia at Her doors
 Heap their stores,
Though Her enterprise and energy secure
 Income sure,
Though "out-station orders punctually obeyed"
 Swell Her trade --
Still, for rule, administration, and the rest,
 Simla's best.