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Best Famous Rudyard Kipling Poems

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Written by Rudyard Kipling | |

If

If you can keep your head when all about you 
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you; 
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, 
But make allowance for their doubting too: 
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, 
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies, 
Or being hated don't give way to hating, 
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise; 

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master; 
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim, 
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster 
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools; If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings, And never breathe a word about your loss: If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!" If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch, If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, If all men count with you, but none too much: If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds' worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!


Written by Rudyard Kipling | |

Recessional

1897


God of our fathers, known of old,
   Lord of our far-flung battle-line,
Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
   Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies;
   The Captains and the Kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
   An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget—lest we forget! Far-called, our navies melt away; On dune and headland sinks the fire: Lo, all our pomp of yesterday Is one with Nineveh and Tyre! Judge of the Nations, spare us yet, Lest we forget—lest we forget! If, drunk with sight of power, we loose Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe, Such boastings as the Gentiles use, Or lesser breeds without the Law— Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget—lest we forget! For heathen heart that puts her trust In reeking tube and iron shard, All valiant dust that builds on dust, And guarding, calls not Thee to guard, For frantic boast and foolish word— Thy mercy on Thy People, Lord!


Written by William Topaz McGonagall | |

Lines in Praise of Tommy Atkins

 Success to Tommy Atkins, he's a very brave man,
And to deny it there's few people can;
And to face his foreign foes he's never afraid,
Therefore he's not a beggar, as Rudyard Kipling has said.
No, he's paid by our Government, and is worthy of his hire; And from our shores in time of war he makes our foes retire, He doesn't need to beg; no, nothing so low; No, he considers it more honourable to face a foreign foe.
No, he's not a beggar, he's a more useful man, And, as Shakespeare has said, his life's but a span; And at the cannon's mouth he seeks for reputation, He doesn't go from door to door seeking a donation.
Oh, think of Tommy Atkins when from home far away, Lying on the battlefield, earth's cold clay; And a stone or his knapsack pillowing his head, And his comrades lying near by him wounded and dead.
And while lying there, poor fellow, he thinks of his wife at home, And his heart bleeds at the thought, and he does moan; And down his cheek flows many a silent tear, When he thinks of his friends and children dear.
Kind Christians, think of him when far, far away, Fighting for his Queen and Country without dismay; May God protect him wherever he goes, And give him strength to conqner his foes.
To call a soldier a beggar is a very degrading name, And in my opinion it's a very great shame; And the man that calls him a beggar is not the soldier's friend, And no sensible soldier should on him depend.
A soldier is a man that ought to be respected, And by his country shouldn't be neglected; For he fights our foreign foes, and in danger of his life, Leaving behind him his relatives and his dear wife.
Then hurrah for Tommy Atkins, he's the people's friend, Because when foreign foes assail us he does us defend; He is not a beggar, as Rudyard Kipling has said, No, he doesn't need to beg, he lives by his trade.
And in conclusion I will say, Don't forget his wife and children when he's far away; But try and help them all you can, For remember Tommy Atkins is a very useful man.


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Written by Rudyard Kipling | |

By the Hoof of the Wild Goat

 By the Hoof of the Wild Goat uptossed
 From the cliff where she lay in the Sun
 Fell the Stone
 To the Tarn where the daylight is lost,
 So she fell from the light of the Sun
 And alone!

 Now the fall was ordained from the first
 With the Goat and the Cliff and the Tarn,
 But the Stone
 Knows only her life is accursed
 As she sinks from the light of the Sun
 And alone!

 Oh Thou Who hast builded the World,
 Oh Thou Who hast lighted the Sun,
 Oh Thou Who hast darkened the Tarn,
 Judge Thou
 The sin of the Stone that was hurled
 By the goat from the light of the Sun,
 As she sinks in the mire of the Tarn,
 Even now--even now--even now!


Written by Rudyard Kipling | |

Recessional (A Victorian Ode)

 God of our fathers, known of old --
 Lord of our far-flung battle line --
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
 Dominion over palm and pine --
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget -- lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies --
 The Captains and the Kings depart --
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
 An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget -- lest we forget! Far-called our navies melt away -- On dune and headland sinks the fire -- Lo, all our pomp of yesterday Is one with Nineveh and Tyre! Judge of the Nations, spare us yet, Lest we forget -- lest we forget! If, drunk with sight of power, we loose Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe -- Such boastings as the Gentiles use, Or lesser breeds without the Law -- Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget -- lest we forget! For heathen heart that puts her trust In reeking tube and iron shard -- All valiant dust that builds on dust, And guarding calls not Thee to guard.
For frantic boast and foolish word, Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord! Amen.


Written by Rudyard Kipling | |

The Prodigal Son

 Here come I to my own again, 
Fed, forgiven and known again, 
Claimed by bone of my bone again 
And cheered by flesh of my flesh.
The fatted calf is dressed for me, But the husks have greater zest for me, I think my pigs will be best for me, So I'm off to the Yards afresh.
I never was very refined, you see, (And it weighs on my brother's mind, you see) But there's no reproach among swine, d'you see, For being a bit of a swine.
So I'm off with wallet and staff to eat The bread that is three parts chaff to wheat, But glory be! - there's a laugh to it, Which isn't the case when we dine.
My father glooms and advises me, My brother sulks and despises me, And Mother catechises me Till I want to go out and swear.
And, in spite of the butler's gravity, I know that the servants have it I Am a monster of moral depravity, And I'm damned if I think it's fair! I wasted my substance, I know I did, On riotous living, so I did, But there's nothing on record to show I did Worse than my betters have done.
They talk of the money I spent out there - They hint at the pace that I went out there - But they all forget I was sent out there Alone as a rich man's son.
So I was a mark for plunder at once, And lost my cash (can you wonder?) at once, But I didn't give up and knock under at once, I worked in the Yards, for a spell, Where I spent my nights and my days with hogs.
And shared their milk and maize with hogs, Till, I guess, I have learned what pays with hogs And - I have that knowledge to sell! So back I go to my job again, Not so easy to rob again, Or quite so ready to sob again On any neck that's around.
I'm leaving, Pater.
Good-bye to you! God bless you, Mater! I'll write to you! I wouldn't be impolite to you, But, Brother, you are a hound!


Written by Rudyard Kipling | |

Gunga Din

 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! slippery hitherao! Water, get it! Panee lao! 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!" 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 Or I'll marrow you this minute 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, '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-files 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!


Written by Rudyard Kipling | |

Sestina Of The Tramp-Royal

 Speakin' in general, I'ave tried 'em all 
The 'appy roads that take you o'er the world.
Speakin' in general, I'ave found them good For such as cannot use one bed too long, But must get 'ence, the same as I'ave done, An' go observin' matters till they die.
What do it matter where or 'ow we die, So long as we've our 'ealth to watch it all— The different ways that different things are done, An' men an' women lovin' in this world; Takin' our chances as they come along, An' when they ain't, pretendin' they are good? In cash or credit—no, it aren't no good; You've to 'ave the 'abit or you'd die, Unless you lived your life but one day long, Nor didn't prophesy nor fret at all, But drew your tucker some'ow from the world, An' never bothered what you might ha' done.
But, Gawd, what things are they I'aven't done? I've turned my 'and to most, an' turned it good, In various situations round the world For 'im that doth not work must surely die; But that's no reason man should labour all 'Is life on one same shift—life's none so long.
Therefore, from job to job I've moved along.
Pay couldn't 'old me when my time was done, For something in my 'ead upset it all, Till I'ad dropped whatever 'twas for good, An', out at sea, be'eld the dock-lights die, An' met my mate—the wind that tramps the world! It's like a book, I think, this bloomin, world, Which you can read and care for just so long, But presently you feel that you will die Unless you get the page you're readi'n' done, An' turn another—likely not so good; But what you're after is to turn'em all.
Gawd bless this world! Whatever she'oth done— Excep' When awful long—I've found it good.
So write, before I die, "'E liked it all!"


Written by Rudyard Kipling | |

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 troop-ships 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.


Written by Rudyard Kipling | |

An American

 If the Led Striker call it a strike,
 Or the papers call it a war,
They know not much what I am like,
 Nor what he is, My Avatar.
Throuh many roads, by me possessed, He shambles forth in cosmic guise; He is the Jester and the Jest, And he the Text himself applies.
The Celt is in his heart and hand, The Gaul is in his brain and nerve; Where, cosmopolitanly planned, He guards the Redskin's dry reserve His easy unswept hearth he lends From Labrador to Guadeloupe; Till, elbowed out by sloven friends, He camps, at sufferance, on the stoop.
Calm-eyed he scoffs at Sword and Crown, Or, panic-blinded, stabs and slays: Blatant he bids the world bow down, Or cringing begs a crust of praise; Or, sombre-drunk, at mine and mart, He dubs his dreary breathren Kings.
His hands are black with blood -- his heart Leaps, as a babe's, at little things.
But, through the shift of mood and mood, Mine ancient humour saves him whole -- The cynic devil in his blood That bids him mock his hurrying soul; That bids him flout the Law he makes, That bids him make the Law he flouts, Till, dazed by many doubts, he wakes The drumming guns that -- have no doubts; That checks him foolish-hot and fond, That chuckles through his deepest ire, That gilds the slough of his despond But dims the goal of his desire; Inopportune, shrill-accented, The acrid Asiatic mirth That leaves him, careless 'mid his dead, The scandal of the elder earth.
How shall he clear himself, how reach Your bar or weighed defence prefer -- A brother hedged with alien speech And lacking all interpreter? Which knowledge vexes him a space; But, while Reproof around him rings, He turns a keen untroubled face Home, to the instant need of things.
Enslaved, illogical, elate, He greets the embarrassed Gods, nor fears To shake the iron hand of Fate Or match with Destiny for beers.
Lo, imperturbable he rules, Unkempt, desreputable, vast -- And, in the teeth of all the schools, I -- I shall save him at the last!


Written by Rudyard Kipling | |

Anchor Song

 Heh! Walk her round.
Heave, ah heave her short again! Over, snatch her over, there, and hold her on the pawl.
Loose all sail, and brace your yards back and full -- Ready jib to pay her off and heave short all! Well, ah fare you well; we can stay no more with you, my love -- Down, set down your liquor and your girl from off your knee; For the wind has come to say: "You must take me while you may, If you'd go to Mother Carey (Walk her down to Mother Carey!), Oh, we're bound to Mother Carey where she feeds her chicks at sea!" Heh! Walk her round.
Break, ah break it out o' that! Break our starboard-bower out, apeak, awash, and clear.
Port -- port she casts, with the harbour-mud beneath her foot, And that's the last o' bottom we shall see this year! Well, ah fare you well, for we've got to take her out again -- Take her out in ballast, riding light and cargo-free.
And it's time to clear and quit When the hawser grips the bitt, So we'll pay you with the foresheet and a promise from the sea! Heh! Tally on.
Aft and walk away with her! Handsome to the cathead, now; O tally on the fall! Stop, seize and fish, and easy on the davit-guy.
Up, well up the fluke of her, and inboard haul! Well, ah fare you well, for the Channel wind's took hold of us, Choking down our voices as we snatch the gaskets free.
And it's blowing up for night, And she's dropping Light on Light, And she's snorting under bonnets for a breath of open sea, Wheel, full and by; but she'll smell her road alone to-night.
Sick she is and harbour-sick -- O sick to clear the land! Roll down to Brest with the old Red Ensign over us -- Carry on and thrash her out with all she'll stand! Well, ah fare you well, and it's Ushant slams the door on us, Whirling like a windmill through the dirty scud to lee: Till the last, last flicker goes From the tumbling water-rows, And we're off to Mother Carey (Walk her down to Mother Carey!), Oh, we're bound for Mother Carey where she feeds her chicks at sea!


Written by Rudyard Kipling | |

The Answer

 A Rose, in tatters on the garden path,
Cried out to God and murmured 'gainst His Wrath,
Because a sudden wind at twilight's hush
Had snapped her stem alone of all the bush.
And God, Who hears both sun-dried dust and sun, Had pity, whispering to that luckless one, "Sister, in that thou sayest We did not well -- What voices heardst thou when thy petals fell?" And the Rose answered, "In that evil hour A voice said, `Father, wherefore falls the flower? For lo, the very gossamers are still.
' And a voice answered, `Son, by Allah's will!'" Then softly as a rain-mist on the sward, Came to the Rose the Answer of the Lord: "Sister, before We smote the dark in twain, Ere yet the stars saw one another plain, Time, Tide, and Space, We bound unto the task That thou shouldst fall, and such an one should ask.
" Whereat the withered flower, all content, Died as they die whose days are innocent; While he who questioned why the flower fell Caught hold of God and saved his soul from Hell.


Written by Rudyard Kipling | |

Army Headquarters

 Ahasuerus Jenkins of the "Operatic Own,"
Was dowered with a tenor voice of super-Santley tone.
His views on equitation were, perhaps, a trifle queer.
He had no seat worth mentioning, but oh! he had an ear.
He clubbed his wretched company a dozen times a day; He used to quit his charger in a parabolic way; His method of saluting was the joy of all beholders, But Ahasuerus Jenkins had a head upon his shoulders.
He took two months at Simla when the year was at the spring, And underneath the deodars eternally did sing.
He warbled like a bul-bul but particularly at Cornelia Agrippina, who was musical and fat.
She controlled a humble husband, who, in turn, controlled a Dept.
Where Cornelia Agrippina's human singing-birds were kept From April to October on a plump retaining-fee, Supplied, of course, per mensem, by the Indian Treasury.
Cornelia used to sing with him, and Jenkins used to play; He praised unblushingly her notes, for he was false as they; So when the winds of April turned the budding roses brown, Cornelia told her husband: -- "Tom, you mustn't send him down.
" They haled him from his regiment, which didn't much regret him; They found for him an office-stool, and on that stool they set him To play with maps and catalogues three idle hours a day, And draw his plump retaining-fee -- which means his double pay.
Now, ever after dinnger, when the coffee-cups are brought, Ahasuerus waileth o'er the grand pianoforte; And, thanks to fair Cornelia, his fame hath waxen great, And Ahasuerus Jenkins is a Power in the State!


Written by Rudyard Kipling | |

An Astrologers Song

 To the Heavens above us
O look and behold
The Planets that love us
All harnessed in gold!
What chariots, what horses
Against us shall bide
While the Stars in their courses
Do fight on our side?

All thought, all desires,
That are under the sun,
Are one with their fires,
As we also are one:
All matter, all spirit,
All fashion, all frame,
Receive and inherit
Their strength from the same.
(Oh, man that deniest All power save thine own, Their power in the highest Is mightily shown.
Not less in the lowest That power is made clear.
Oh, man, if thou knowest, What treasure is here!) Earth quakes in her throes And we wonder for why! But the blind planet knows When her ruler is nigh; And, attuned since Creation To perfect accord, She thrills in her station And yearns to her Lord.
The waters have risen, The springs are unbound-- The floods break their prison, And ravin around.
No rampart withstands 'em, Their fury will last, Till the Sign that commands 'em Sinks low or swings past.
Through abysses unproven And gulfs beyond thought, Our portion is woven, Our burden is brought.
Yet They that prepare it, Whose Nature we share, Make us who must bear it Well able to bear.
Though terrors o'ertake us We'll not be afraid.
No power can unmake us Save that which has made.
Nor yet beyond reason Or hope shall we fall-- All things have their season, And Mercy crowns all! Then, doubt not, ye fearful-- The Eternal is King-- Up, heart, and be cheerful, And lustily sing:-- What chariots, what horses Against us shall bide While the Stars in their courses Do fight on our side?


Written by Rudyard Kipling | |

As the Bell Clinks

 As I left the Halls at Lumley, rose the vision of a comely
Maid last season worshipped dumbly, watched with fervor from afar;
And I wondered idly, blindly, if the maid would greet me kindly.
That was all -- the rest was settled by the clinking tonga-bar.
Yea, my life and hers were coupled by the tonga coupling-bar.
For my misty meditation, at the second changin-station, Suffered sudden dislocation, fled before the tuneless jar Of a Wagner obbligato, scherzo, doublehand staccato, Played on either pony's saddle by the clacking tonga-bar -- Played with human speech, I fancied, by the jigging, jolting bar.
"She was sweet," thought I, "last season, but 'twere surely wild unreason Such tiny hope to freeze on as was offered by my Star, When she whispered, something sadly: 'I -- we feel your going badly!'" "And you let the chance escape you?" rapped the rattling tonga-bar.
"What a chance and what an idiot!" clicked the vicious tonga-bar.
Heart of man -- oh, heart of putty! Had I gone by Kakahutti, On the old Hill-road and rutty, I had 'scaped that fatal car.
But his fortune each must bide by, so I watched the milestones slide by, To "You call on Her to-morrow!" -- fugue with cymbals by the bar -- You must call on Her to-morrow!" -- post-horn gallop by the bar.
Yet a further stage my goal on -- we were whirling down to Solon, With a double lurch and roll on, best foot foremost, ganz und gar -- "She was very sweet," I hinted.
"If a kiss had been imprinted?" -- "'Would ha' saved a world of trouble!" clashed the busy tonga-bar.
"'Been accepted or rejected!" banged and clanged the tonga-bar.
Then a notion wild and daring, 'spite the income tax's paring, And a hasty thought of sharing -- less than many incomes are, Made me put a question private, you can guess what I would drive at.
"You must work the sum to prove it," clanked the careless tonga-bar.
"Simple Rule of Two will prove it," litled back the tonga-bar.
It was under Khyraghaut I muse.
"Suppose the maid be haughty -- (There are lovers rich -- and roty) -- wait some wealthy Avatar? Answer monitor untiring, 'twixt the ponies twain perspiring!" "Faint heart never won fair lady," creaked the straining tonga-bar.
"Can I tell you ere you ask Her?" pounded slow the tonga-bar.
Last, the Tara Devi turning showed the lights of Simla burning, Lit my little lazy yearning to a fiercer flame by far.
As below the Mall we jingled, through my very heart it tingled -- Did the iterated order of the threshing tonga-bar -- Truy your luck -- you can't do better!" twanged the loosened tongar-bar.