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Happy Birthday, Rudyard Kipling
Posted by: Chesil (192.168.128.---)
Date: December 30, 2005 11:30PM

The Conundrum of the Workshops
When the flush of a new-born sun fell first on Eden's green and gold,
Our father Adam sat under the Tree and scratched with a stick in the mould;
And the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart,
Till the Devil whispered behind the leaves, "It's pretty, but is it Art?"

Wherefore he called to his wife, and fled to fashion his work anew --
The first of his race who cared a fig for the first, most dread review;
And he left his lore to the use of his sons -- and that was a glorious gain
When the Devil chuckled "Is it Art?" in the ear of the branded Cain.

They fought and they talked in the North and the South, they talked and they fought in the West,
Till the waters rose on the pitiful land, and the poor Red Clay had rest --
Had rest till that dank blank-canvas dawn when the dove was preened to start,
And the Devil bubbled below the keel: "It's human, but is it Art?"

They builded a tower to shiver the sky and wrench the stars apart,
Till the Devil grunted behind the bricks: "It's striking, but is it Art?"
The stone was dropped at the quarry-side and the idle derrick swung,
While each man talked of the aims of Art, and each in an alien tongue.

The tale is as old as the Eden Tree -- and new as the new-cut tooth --
For each man knows ere his lip-thatch grows he is master of Art and Truth;
And each man hears as the twilight nears, to the beat of his dying heart,
The Devil drum on the darkened pane: "You did it, but was it Art?"

We have learned to whittle the Eden Tree to the shape of a surplice-peg,
We have learned to bottle our parents twain in the yelk of an addled egg,
We know that the tail must wag the dog, for the horse is drawn by the cart;
But the Devil whoops, as he whooped of old: "It's clever, but is it Art?"

When the flicker of London sun falls faint on the Club-room's green and gold,
The sons of Adam sit them down and scratch with their pens in the mould --
They scratch with their pens in the mould of their graves, and the ink and the anguish start,
For the Devil mutters behind the leaves: "It's pretty, but is it Art?"

Now, if we could win to the Eden Tree where the Four Great Rivers flow,
And the Wreath of Eve is red on the turf as she left it long ago,
And if we could come when the sentry slept and softly scurry through,
By the favour of God we might know as much -- as our father Adam knew!



Re: Happy Birthday, Rudyard Kipling
Posted by: Marty (192.168.128.---)
Date: December 31, 2005 10:53AM

A Counting-Out Song
"An English School"
From "Land and Sea Tales" (1919-1923)
Rudyard Kipling

What is the song the children sing,
When doorway lilacs bloom in Spring,
And the Schools are loosed, and the games are played
That were deadly earnest when Earth was made?
Hear them chattering, shrill and hard,
After dinner-time, out in the yard,
As the sides are chosen and all submit
To the chance of the lot that shall make them "It."
(Singing) "Eenee, Meenee, Mainee, Mo!
Catch a nigger by the toe!
(If he hollers let him go!
Eenee, Meenee. Mainee, Mo!
You-are-It!"

Eenee, Meenee, Mainee, and Mo
Were the First Big Four of the Long Ago,
When the Pole of the Earth sloped thirty degrees,
And Central Europe began to freeze,
And they needed Ambassadors staunch and stark
To steady the Tribes in the gathering dark:
But the frost was fierce and flesh was frail,
So they launched a Magic that could not fail.
(Singing) "Eenee, Meenee, Mainee, Mo!
Hear the wolves across the snow!
Some one has to kill 'em--so
Eenee, Meenee, Mainee, Mo
Make--you--It!"

Slowly the Glacial Epoch passed,
Central Europe thawed out at last;
And, under the slush of the melting snows
The first dim shapes of the Nations rose.
Rome, Britannia, Belgium, Gaul--
Flood and avalanche fathered them all;
And the First Big Four, as they watched the mess,
Pitied Man in his helplessness.
(Singing) "Eenee, Meenee, Mainee, Mo!
Trouble starts When Nations grow,
Some one has to stop it--so
Eenee, Meenee, Mainee, Mo!
Make-you-It!"

Thus it happened, but none can tell
What was the Power behind the spell--
Fear, or Duty, or Pride, or Faith--
That sent men shuddering out to death--
To cold and watching, and, worse than these,
Work, more work, when they looked for ease--
To the days discomfort, the nights despair,
In the hope of a prize that they never could share,
(Singing) "Eenee, Meenee, Mainee, Mo!
Man is born to Toil and Woe.
One will cure another--so
Eenee, Meenee, Mainee, Mo
Make--you--It!"

Once and again, as the Ice went North
The grass crept up to the Firth of Forth.
Once and again, as the Ice came South
The glaciers ground over Lossiemouth.
But, grass or glacier, cold or hot,
The men went out who would rather not,
And fought with the Tiger, the Pig and the Ape,
To hammer the world into decent shape.
(Singing) "Eenee, Meenee, Mainee, Mo!
What's the use of doing so?
Ask the Gods, for we don't know;
But Eenee, Meenee, Mainee, Mo
Make-us-It!"

Nothing is left of that terrible rune
But a tag of gibberish tacked to a tune
That ends the waiting and settles the claims
Of children arguing over their games;
For never yet has a boy been found
To shirk his turn when the turn came round;
Nor even a girl has been known to say
"If you laugh at me I shan't play."
For-- "Eenee, Meenee, Mainee, Mo,
(Don't you let the grown-ups know! )
You may hate it ever so,
But if you're chose you're bound to go,
When Eenee, Meenee, Mainee, Mo
Make-you-It!"


Re: Happy Birthday, Rudyard Kipling
Posted by: Hugh Clary (192.168.128.---)
Date: December 31, 2005 03:15PM

And possibly the finest sestina ever composed:


Sestina of the Tramp-Royal - 1896 - Rudyard Kipling


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 ’ave 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 me 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 readin’ done,
An’ turn another—likely not so good;
But what you’re after is to turn ’em all.

Gawd bless this world! Whatever she ’ath done—
Excep’ when awful long—I’ve found it good.
So write, before I die, “’E liked it all!”



Re: Happy Birthday, Rudyard Kipling
Posted by: lg (Moderator)
Date: December 31, 2005 03:31PM

One for my fellow e-mulers, any donkeys onboard?


The Legend Of Evil
--Rudyard Kipling

I

This is the sorrowful story
Told when the twilight fails
And the monkeys walk together
Holding their neighbours' tails: --

"Our fathers lived in the forest,
Foolish people were they,
They went down to the cornland
To teach the farmers to play.

"Our fathers frisked in the millet,
Our fathers skipped in the wheat,
Our fathers hung from the branches,
Our fathers danced in the street.

"Then came the terrible farmers,
Nothing of play they knew,
Only. . .they caught our fathers
And set them to labour too!

"Set them to work in the cornland
With ploughs and sickles and flails,
Put them in mud-walled prisons
And -- cut off their beautiful tails!

"Now, we can watch our fathers,
Sullen and bowed and old,
Stooping over the millet,
Sharing the silly mould,

"Driving a foolish furrow,
Mending a muddy yoke,
Sleeping in mud-walled prisons,
Steeping their food in smoke.

"We may not speak to our fathers,
For if the farmers knew
They would come up to the forest
And set us to labour too."

This is the horrible story
Told as the twilight fails
And the monkeys walk together
Holding their kinsmen's tails.


II

'Twas when the rain fell steady an' the Ark was pitched an' ready,
That Noah got his orders for to take the bastes below;
He dragged them all together by the horn an' hide an' feather,
An' all excipt the Donkey was agreeable to go.

Thin Noah spoke him fairly, thin talked to him sevarely,
An' thin he cursed him squarely to the glory av the Lord: --
"Divil take the ass that bred you, and the greater ass that fed you --
Divil go wid you, ye spalpeen!" an' the Donkey went aboard.

But the wind was always failin', an' 'twas most onaisy sailin',
An' the ladies in the cabin couldn't stand the stable air;
An' the bastes betwuxt the hatches, they tuk an' died in batches,
Till Noah said: -- "There's wan av us that hasn't paid his fare!"

For he heard a flusteration 'mid the bastes av all creation --
The trumpetin' av elephints an' bellowin' av whales;
An' he saw forninst the windy whin he wint to stop the shindy
The Divil wid a stable-fork bedivillin' their tails.

The Divil cursed outrageous, but Noah said umbrageous: --
"To what am I indebted for this tenant-right invasion?"
An' the Divil gave for answer: -- "Evict me if you can, sir,
For I came in wid the Donkey -- on Your Honour's invitation."

Les

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/31/2005 03:36PM by lg.


Re: Happy Birthday, Rudyard Kipling
Posted by: Marty (192.168.128.---)
Date: December 31, 2005 09:15PM

Pan in Vermont
1893
About the 15th of this month you may expectour Mr. -- , with the usual Spring Seed, etc., Catalogues.– Florist’s Announcement.


It’s forty in the shade to-day, the spouting eaves declare;
The boulders nose above the drift, the southern slopes are bare;
Hub-deep in slush Apollo’s car swings north along the Zod-
iac. Good luck, the Spring is back, and Pan is on the road!

His house is Gee & Tellus’ Sons, – so goes his jest with men –
He sold us Zeus knows what last year; he’ll take us in again.
Disguised behind the livery-team, fur-coated, rubber-shod –
Yet Apis from the bull-pen lows – he knows his brother God!

Now down the lines of tasseled pines the yearning whispers wake –
Pithys of old thy love behold! Come in for Hermes’s sake!
How long since that so-Boston boot with reeling Maenads ran!
Numen adest! Let be the rest. Pipe and we pay, O Pan.

(What though his phlox and hollyhocks ere half a month demised?
What though his ampelopsis clambered not as advertised?
Though every seed was guaranteed and every standard true –
Forget, forgive they did not live! Believe, and buy anew!)

Now o’er a careless knee he flings the painted page abroad –
Such bloom hath never eye beheld this side of Eden Sword;
Such fruit Pomona marks her own, yea, Liber oversees,
That we may reach (one dollar each) the Lost Hesperides!

Serene, assenting, unabashed, he writes our orders down: –
Blue Asphodel on all our paths – a few true bays for crown –
Uncankered bud, immoral flower, and leaves that never fall –
Apples of Gold, of Youth, of Health – and – thank you, Pan, that’s all….

He’s off along the drifted pent to catch the Windsor train,
And swindle every citizen from Keene to Lake Champlain.
But where his goat’s-hoof cut the crust – beloved, look below –
He’s left us (I’ll forgive him all) the may-flower ‘neath her snow!





Re: Happy Birthday, Rudyard Kipling
Posted by: Marty (192.168.128.---)
Date: January 01, 2006 12:15AM

The Last Ode
Nov. 27, 8 B.C.
Horace, BK. V. Ode 31
"The Eye of Allah"
"From "Debits and Credits"(1919-1923)

As WATCHERS couched beneath a Bantine oak,
Hearing the dawn-wind stir,
Know that the present strength of night is broke
Though no dawn threaten her
Till dawn's appointed hour--so Virgil died,
Aware of change at hand, and prophesied

Change upon all the Eternal Gods had made
And on the Gods alike--
Fated as dawn but, as the dawn, delayed
Till the just hour should strike--

A Star new-risen above the living and dead;
And the lost shades that were our loves restored
As lovers, and for ever. So he said;
Having received the word...

Maecenas waits me on the Esquiline:
Thither to-night go I....
And shall this dawn restore us, Virgil mine
To dawn? Beneath what sky?


Re: Happy Birthday, Rudyard Kipling
Posted by: IanB (192.168.128.---)
Date: January 01, 2006 09:52PM

Thanks for the thread Chesil. Rudyard Kipling, one of the all time great poetic word-wielders.

In his Conundrum poem I'm fairly sure he ordered the stanzas so as to make the talking and fighting a consequence of the Tower of Babel. You have evidently cut and pasted from a version in which stanzas 3 and 4 are the other way round. There are some Internet sites presenting it like that.

When occasionally reciting this poem to gatherings of artists, for whom its message obviously still resonates, I don't tell them the rather clumsy title, which IMO falls short of RK's standard. For one thing, artists nowadays don't like to be categorised as working in 'workshops'. They have 'studios'! I'm undecided what better title he might have used. My artist friends just call it 'the Is it Art poem'.

A characteristic of orally transmitted poetry is that it evolves to smooth out any awkward bits and ensure that what remains works best for audiences. The same applies to recitation. I confess that I deliberately 'improve' the last line of the penultimate stanza of this poem to 'The Devil mutters behind the drapes "It's modern, but is it Art?"', thus avoiding unnecessary repetitions from the first stanza as well as providing an updated reference, which is always received well enough to prove its worth. Sacrilege perhaps, but I believe wordsmith RK would have approved. Reading again the original wording posted by you, I see I have unconsciously made other minor changes in my memorised version. For instance, saying 'first fell' instead of 'fell first' in the opening line, and 'o'er [instead of 'on'] the pitiful land', and 'a [instead of 'the'] new-cut tooth', and 'yolk' instead of 'yelk'. But I don't think there's yet any respectable home in the written poetry canon for poem revisions not made by the original poet !

Ian

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/01/2006 11:16PM by IanB.


Re: Happy Birthday, Rudyard Kipling
Posted by: lg (Moderator)
Date: January 02, 2006 12:13AM





The Benefactors
--Rudyard Kipling

Ah! What avails the classic bent
And what the cultured word,
Against the undoctored incident
That actually occurred?

And what is Art whereto we press
Through paint and prose and rhyme--
When Nature in her nakedness
Defeats us every time?


It is not learning, grace nor gear,
Nor easy meat and drink,
But bitter pinch of pain and fear
That makes creation think.


When in this world's unpleasing youth
Our godlike race began,
The longest arm, the sharpest tooth,
Gave man control of man;


Till, bruised and bitten to the bone
And taught by pain and fear,
He learned to deal the far-off stone,
And poke the long, safe spear.

So tooth and nail were obsolete
As means against a foe,
Till, bored by uniform defeat,
Some genius built the bow.

Then stone and javelin proved as vain
As old-time tooth and nail;
Till, spurred anew by fear and pain,
Man fashioned coats of mail.

Then was there safety for the rich
And danger for the poor,
Till someone mixed a powder which
Redressed the scale once more.

Helmet and armour disappeared
With sword and bow and pike,
And, when the smoke of battle cleared,
All men were armed alike. . . .

And when ten million such were slain
To please one crazy king,
Man, schooled in bulk by fear and pain,
Grew weary of the thing;

And, at the very hour designed,
To enslave him past recall,
His tooth-stone-arrow-gun-shy mind
Turned and abolished all.

All Power, each Tyrant, every Mob
Whose head has grown too large,
Ends by destroying its own job
And works its own discharge;

And Man, whose mere necessities
Move all things from his path,
Trembles meanwhile at their decrees,
And deprecates their wrath!


Les

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/02/2006 12:15AM by lg.




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