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In the Neolithic Age

Written by: Rudyard Kipling | Biography
 | Quotes (67) |
 1895

I the Neolithic Age savage warfare did I wage
 For food and fame and woolly horses' pelt.
I was singer to my clan in that dim, red Dawn of Man,
 And I sang of all we fought and feared and felt.

Yea, I sang as now I sing, when the Prehistoric spring
 Made the piled Biscayan ice-pack split and shove;
And the troll and gnome and dwerg, and the Gods of Cliff and
 Berg
 Were about me and beneath me and above.

But a rival, of Solutre, told the tribe my style was outre--
 'Neath a tomahawk, of diorite, he fell
And I left my views on Art, barbed and tanged below the heart
 Of a mammothistic etcher at Grenelle.


Then I stripped them, scalp from skull, and my hunting-dogs
 fed full, 
 And their teeth I threaded neatly on a thong;
And I wiped my mouth and said, "It is well that they are dead,
 For I know my work is right and theirs was wrong."

But my Totem saw the shame; from his ridgepole-shrine he came,
 And he told me in a vision of the night: --
"There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays,
 "And every single one of them is right!"

 . . . . . . .

Then the silence closed upon me till They put new clothing on me
 Of whiter, weaker fresh and bone more frail; .
And I stepped beneath Time's finger, once again a tribal singer,
 And a minor poet certified by Traill!

Still they skirmish to and fro, men my messmates on the snow
 When we headed off the aurochs turn for turn;
When the rich Allobrogenses never kept amanuenses,
 And our only plots were piled in lakes at Berne.

Still a cultured Christian age sees us scuffle, squeak, and rage,
 Still we pinch and slap and jabber, scratch and dirk;
Still we let our business slide--as we dropped the half-dressed
 hide--
 To show a fellow-savage how to work.

Still the world is wondrous large,--seven seas from marge to 
 marge--
 And it holds a vast of various kinds of man;
And the wildest dreams of Kew are the facts of Khatmandhu
 And the crimes of Clapham chaste in Martaban.

Here's my wisdom for your use, as I learned it when the moose
 And the reindeer roared where Paris roars to-night:--
"There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays,
 "And--every--single--one--of--them--is--right!"



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