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Title: Rhymes of the East and Re-collected Verses
Author: Kendall, John (AKA Dum-Dum)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                          Rhymes of the East


                         Re-collected Verses

                            BY D U M-D U M

                              AUTHOR OF
                           'AT ODD MOMENTS'
                            'IN THE HILLS'

                         ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE
                          AND COMPANY, LTD.

       *       *       *       *       *



       *       *       *       *       *


Nearly all the verses that now make their first appearance in book
form are reprinted from _Punch_, by kind permission of Messrs.
Bradbury and Agnew. The rest I have taken from two little books that
were published in Bombay during my last (and, I suppose, final) tour
of service in India. They contained a good deal of work that was too
local or topical in interest to stand reproduction, and--especially
the elder, which is out of print--some that I would sooner bury than
perpetuate. The rest I have overhauled, and included in this

Readers in, or of, India have been kind enough to regard my previous
efforts with favour. I hope that this little volume will find them no
less benevolently disposed, and that at the same time it may not be
without interest to those whose knowledge of the Shiny East is derived
from hearsay.

       *       *       *       *       *



































       *       *       *       *       *


                'Where ignorance is bliss,
    'Tis folly to be wise.'

    The time-gun rolls his nerve-destroying bray;
      The toiling moon rides slowly o'er the trees;
    The weary diners cast their cares away,
      And seek the lawn for coolness and for ease.

    Now spreads the gathering stillness like a pall,
      And melancholy silence rules the scene,
    Save where the bugler sounds his homing call,
      And thirsty THOMAS leaves the wet canteen;

    Save that from yonder lines in deepest gloom
      Th' ambiguous mule does of the stick[1] bewail,
    Whose _dunder_ craft forbids him to consume
      His proper blanket, or his neighbour's tail.

[Footnote 1: The _dunder-stick_--an ingenious instrument devised to
defeat this extraordinary appetite.]

    Beneath those jagged tiles, that low-built roof
      (Whose inmost secret deeps let none divine!),
    Each to his master's cry supremely proof,
      The Aryan Brothers of our household dine.

    Let not Presumption mock their joyless pile,--
      The cold boiled rice, in native butter greased;
    Nor scorn, with rising gorge and painful smile,
      The cheap but filling flapjacks of the East.

    Full many a gem of highest Art-cuisine
      Those dark unfathomed dogmatists eschew;
    Full many a 'dish to set before the Queen'
      Would waste its sweetness on the mild Hindoo.

    Nor you, their lords, expect of these the toil,
      When o'er their minds a soft oblivion steals,
    And through the long-drawn hookah's pliant coil
      They soothe their senses, and digest their meals.

    For Knowledge to their ears her ample store,
      Rich with the latest news, does then impart,
    Whose source, when known, shall chill you to the core,
      And freeze the genial cockles of the heart.

    For once, to dumb Neglectfulness a prey,
      Resentment led me undetected near,
    To know the reason of this cool delay,
      And teach my trusty pluralist to hear.

    There to my vassals' ruminating throng
      Some total stranger, seated on a pail,
    Perused, translating as he went along,
      My private letters by the current mail.

    One moment, horror baulked my strong intent;
      Next o'er the compound wall we saw him go,
    While uncouth moan, with hapless gesture blent,
      Deplored the pressing tribute of the toe.


    To you, fresh youths, with round unblushing cheeks,
      Some moral tag this closing verse applies;
    E'en from the old the voice of Wisdom speaks--
      Even the youngest are not always wise!

    No further seek to probe the Best Unknown,
      From Exploration's curious arts refrain;
    Lest Melancholy mark you for her own,
      And you should learn--nor ever smile again.


_After R. H._

    A strong discomfort in the dress
    Dwindling the clothes to nothingness
    Saving, for due decorum placed,
    A huckaback about the waist,
    Or wanton towel-et, whose touch
    Haply may spare to chafe o'ermuch:
    A languid frame, from head to feet
    Prankt in the arduous prickle-heat:
    An erring fly, that here and there
    Enwraths the crimsoned sufferèr:
    An upward toe, whose skill enjoys
    The slipper's curious equipoise:
    A punkah wantoning, whereby
    Papers do flow confoundedly:
    By such comportment, and th' offence
    Of thy fantastic eloquence,
    Dost thou, my WILLIAM, make it known
    That thou art warm, and best alone.



    Now the busy screw is churning,
      Now the horrid sirens blow;
    Now are India's guests returning
      Home from India's Greatest Show;
    Now the gleeful Asiatic
      Speeds them on their wild career,
    And, though normally phlegmatic,
      Gives a half-unconscious cheer.

    India's years were years of leanness,
      Till the Late Performance drew
    These, whose confidential greenness
      She has run for all she knew.
    Gladly rose the land to bid them
      Welcome for a fleeting spell--
    Nobly took them in and did them--
      And has done extremely well.

    Peace be theirs, important Packet,
      Genial skies and happy calms--
    No derogatory racket,
      No humiliating qualms!
    Gales, I charge you, shun to rouse and
      Lash the seas to angry foam,
    While Britannia's Great Ten Thousand
      Sweep, with huge enjoyment, home!

    Let the spiced and salty zephyr
      Build them up in frame and mind,
    Till they feel as fresh and effer-
      vescent as their hearts are kind,
    And in triumph close their Indian
      Tour on far Massilia's quay,
    Never having known too windy an
      Offing, too disturbed a sea.

    So, when English snows are falling,
      When the fogs are growing dense,
    They shall hear the East a-calling,
      And shall come, and blow expense.
    Every year shall bring his Argo;
      Every year a grateful East
    Shall receive her golden Cargo,
      And restore the Gilded--Fleeced!


    In the dim and distant ages, in the half-forgotten days,
    Ere the East became the fashion and an Indian tour the craze,
    Lived a certain Major-General, renowned throughout the State
    As a soldier of distinction and considerable weight.

    But though weightiness of mind is an invaluable trait,
    When applied to adiposity it's all the other way;
    And our hero was confronted with an ever-growing lack
    Of the necessary charger and the hygienic hack.

    He had bought them by the dozen, he had tried them by the score,
    But not one of them was equal to the burden that he bore;
    They were conscious of the honour, they were sound in wind and limb,
    They could carry a cathedral, but they drew the line at _him_.

    But he stuck to it, till finally his pressing needs were filled
    By the mammoth of his species, a Leviathan in build,
    A superb upstanding brown, of unexceptionable bone,
    And phenomenally qualified to carry twenty stone.

    And the General was happy; for the noble creature showed
    An unruffled acquiescence with the nature of his load;
    Till without the slightest warning, that superb upstanding brown
    Thought it time to make a protest, which he did by lying down.

    They appealed to him, reproached him, gave him sugar, cut his feed,
    But in vain; for almost daily that inexorable steed,
    When he heard his master coming, looked insultingly around,
    And with cool deliberation laid him down upon the ground.

    But they fought it out between them, till the undefeated brute
    Made a humorous obeisance at the General Salute!
    Then his owner kicked him wildly in the stomach for his pranks,
    Said he'd stand the beast no longer, and returned him to the ranks.

(_An interval of about three years._)

    Time has dulled our hero's anguish; time has raised our man of weight
    To an even higher office in the service of the State;
    And we find him at his yearly tour, inspecting at his ease
    A distinguished corps of cavalry, the Someone's Own D. G.'s.

    And our fat but famous man of war, accoutred to the nines,
    Was engaged in making rude remarks, and going round the lines,
    When he suddenly beheld across an intervening space
    A Leviathan of horseflesh, the Behemoth of his race.

    'Colonel Robinson,' he shouted, with enthusiastic force,
    'A remarkably fine horse, sir!' The remarkably fine horse
    Gave a reminiscent shudder, looked insultingly around,
    And with cold deliberation laid him down upon the ground!


    [Time-guns are of invariable pattern and extreme antiquity.
    Other species come and go; their ancestor remains always. One
    is to be found in each cantonment: he generally occupies a
    position of unsheltered and pathetic loneliness in a corner
    of the local parade-ground. The writer has never seen one
    herded in the Gun-park with his kind.]

    Strong scion of the sturdy past
      When simpler methods ruled the fray,
    At whose demoralising blast
    The stoutest foe recoiled aghast,
        How fall'n art thou to-day!

    Thy power the little children mock;
      Thy voice, that shook the serried line,
    But supplements the morning cock
    At--roughly speaking--one o'clock,
        And--broadly--half-past nine.

    (Saving when THOMAS' deep employ
      Th' attendant closing hour postpones,
    And he, the undefeated boy,
    To gain a temporary joy,
        Hath stuffed thee up with stones.)

    Thy kindred of a mushroom 'Mark,'
      Young guns, intolerably spruce,
    Have cast thee from the social 'park';
    Which, to their humbled patriarch,
        Must be the very deuce.

    Their little toils with leisure crowned,
      They, in their turn, will seek the Vale
    Of Rest that thou hast never found;
    What wonder if thy daily Round
        Is very like a Wail?

    Yet many love thee. Though his clutch
      Be heavy, Time doth still afford
    That fine consolatory touch--
    It hardly seems to go for much,
        But cannot be ignored.

    For him that braves the midday fare
      Thou hast the immemorial task
    Of booming forth at one--or there-
    abouts--which saves the wear and tear
        Of yelling out to ask.

    So, when athwart the glooming flats
      Thy hoarse, nocturnal whispers stray--
    Much to the horror of the bats--
    We're one day nearer home, and that's
        A comfort, anyway!

    Then courage! Guns may come and go,
      But him alone we hold divine
    Whose task it is to let us know
    The hours of one o'clock--or so--
        And--roundly--half-past nine.



    Wake! for Reveillée scatters into flight
    The flagging Rearguard of a ruined Night,
        And hark! the meagre Champion of the Roost
    Has flung a matins to the Throne of Light.

    Here, while the first beam smites the sullen Sky,
    With silent feet Hajâm comes stealing nigh,
        Bearing the Brush, the Vessel, and the Blade,
    These sallow cheeks of mine to scarify.

    How often, oh, how often have I sworn
    Myself myself to shave th' ensuing Morn!
        And then--and then comes Guest-night, and Hajâm
    Appears unbidden, and is gladly borne.

    Come, fill the Cup! The nerve-restoring Ti
    Shall woo me with the Leaf of far Bohi;
        What matter that to some the Koko makes
    Appeal, to some the Cingalese Kofi?

    For in a minute Toil, that ever thrives,
    Awaits me with her Shackles and her Gyves,
        And ever crieth Folly in the streets:
    'To work! for needs ye must when Shaitân drives.'

    Alas! that I did yesternight disport
    With certain fellows of the baser Sort,
        Unheedful of the living consequence
    When Drinks are long, and Pockets all too short!

    With them the game of Poka did I play,
    And in wild session turned the Night to Day;
        And many a Chip I dropped upon the Board,
    And many a Moistener poured upon the Clay.

    I put my Pile against th' Improbable,
    And with a Full Hand thought to make it swell;
        And this was all the Profit that I reaped:
    A Full of Kings is Heaven--and Fours are Hell!

    Then to the Mountain Dew I turned to seek
        New courage for the Vengeance I should wreak;
    And once again came Fours, again the Flesh
    Was willing, and the Spirits far from weak.

       *       *       *       *       *

    _O Friend of pseudo-philosophic Calm,
    Who found within the Cup a life's Aram,
        Thy counsel, howsoever fair to read,
    Were passing bad to follow, friend Khayyam!_

    _Was it not Suleiman the Wise that said:
    Look not upon the Wine when it is red?
        And Suleiman the Wise knew What was Which,
    Though that great Heart of his outmatched his Head!_

       *       *       *       *       *

    Ah! with the Pledge a Door of Refuge ope
    To wean my footsteps from the facile Slope,
        And write me down, fulfilled of Self-esteem,
    A Prop and Pillar of the Band of Hope;

    That in the Club, should whilom Comrades try
    To lure me to a Roister on the sly,
        The necessary Zeal I may not lack
    To turn away, nor wink the Other Eye!



_After T. G._

    Ye distant Hills, ye smiling glades,
        In decent foliage drest,
    Where green Sylvanus proudly shades
        The Sirkar's haughty crest,
    And ye, that in your wider reign
    Like bold adventurers disdain
        The limit set for common clay,
    Whose luck, whose pen, whose power of song,
    Distinguish from the vulgar throng
        To walk the flowery way:

    Ah happy Hills! Ah genial sky!
        Ah Goal where all would end!
    Where once, and only once, did I
        Go largely on the bend;
    E'en now the tales that from ye flow
    A fragmentary bliss bestow,
        Till, once again a doedal boy,
    In dreaming dimly of the first
    I seem to take a second burst,
        And snatch a tearful joy.

    But tell me, Jakko, dost thou see
        The same old sprightly crew
    Disport with unembarrassed glee,
        As we were wont to do?
    What youth, in brazen armour cased,
    With pliant arm the yielding waist
        To arduous dalliance ensnares?
    Who, foremost of his peers, exalts
    The labours of the devious waltz
        By sitting out the squares?

    Does Prudence, gentle Matron, force
        On Folly in her 'teens
    The value of a stalking-horse
        When hunting Rank and Means?
    And is the Summer Widow's mind
    Aggrieved and horrified to find
        That, as her male acquaintance grows,
    Her female circle pass her by
    With Innuendo's outraged eye,
        And Virtue's injured nose?

    Lo, in the Vale of Tears beneath
        A grilling troop is seen
    Whom Failure gnaws with rankling teeth,
        While Envy turns them green.
    This racks the head, that scars the pelt,
    These bore beneath the ample belt,
        Those in the deeper vitals burn:
    Lo, Want of Leave, to fill the cup,
    Hath drunken all our juices up,
        And topped the whole concern.

    To each his billet; some succeed,
        And some are left to groan;
    The latter serve their country's need,
        The former serve their own.
    Then let the maiden try her wing,
    The youth enjoy his roomy fling,
        The Single Matron dry her eyes!
    As Fate is blind, and Life is short,
    If Ignorance can give them sport,
        'Twere folly to be wise.


    Long, long ago, in that heroic time
      When I, a coy and modest youth, was shot
    Out on this dust-heap of careers and crime
        To try and learn what's what,

    I had a servitor, a swarthy knave,
      Who showed an almost irreligious taste
    For wearing nothing but a turban, save
        A rag about the waist.

    This apparition gave me such a start,
      That I endowed him with a cast-off pair
    Of inexpressibles, and said, 'Depart,
        And be no longer bare.'

    He took the offering with broken thanks;
      But day succeeded day, and still revealed
    Those sombre and attenuated shanks
        Intensely unconcealed;

    Until at last the climax came when I
      Resolved to bring this matter to an end,
    And when I saw him passing, shouted, 'Hi!
        Where are your trousers, friend?'

    Halting, he gave a deferential bow;
      Then, to my horror, beamingly replied,
    'Master not see? I wearing trousers _now_!'
        I would have said he lied,

    But could not. As I shaped the glowing phrase,
      I looked upon his turban--looked again--
    Mine own familiar pattern met my gaze,
        And all the truth was plain!

    Th' unhappy creature, Eastern to the core,
      Holding my gift in superstitious dread,
    Had made a turban out of it, and wore
        His trousers--_on his head_!




    A song of Mandalay!
    Allons, Camerados, Desperadoes, Amontillados!
    Hear my Recitative, my Romanza, my Spring Onion!


    You three-striped sergeants, you corporals, non-commissioned officers,
        and men with one or more good-conduct badges,
    You indifferent and bad characters, am I not also one with you?
    And will you not then hear my song?
    This for prelude.


    You, O Mandalay, I sing!
    For I see the pagoda, the Moulmein and essentially wotto pagoda,
    And the pagoda is above the trees,
    But the trees are below the pagoda.


    I see the flying-fish sitting on the branches, I hear them sing,
        and they fly and mate and build their nests in the branches;
    I see a dun-coloured aboriginal she-female, mongolianée, petite,
    And she has a cast in her sinister optic and a snub nose but her
        heart is true;
    And I gaze into her heart (which is true), and I find that she is
        musing (as indeed I often muse) on ME,
    Me Prononcè, Me Imperturbe, Me Inconscionabilamente.


    I see [_a page or so unavoidably omitted for lack of space,--refer
        to guide-book_] and ... the wind, and the palm-trees idly swaying
        to and fro in the wind (now to, now fro), and I hear the bells of
        a temple, and I know that they are singing, and what it is that
        they would say.


    What is it that they would say do you ask Me?


    How shall I tell you, how shall I make you understand?
    For I know that you do not love Me, you do not comprehend Me, you
        say that this sort of thing does you harm;
    But I will even now do my darndest (as indeed I always do more or
        less), and if you do not like it,
    Waal, Soldados?


    Behold, I will write it as a song and put it in italics, so that
        even _you_ will know that it _is_ a song;
    So listen, listen, Camerados! for I am about to spout and my song
        shall be masculine and virile. _A bas_ your metre, _à la lanterne_
        your rhyme, _conspuez_ your punctuation,
    I say pooh-pooh!


    _Allons! Allons! Tra-la-la! Hear my Bellata!
    Why do you not return to Mandalay O soldier?
    Do you not remember the boats, and the paddles as they chunked
        outside the boats?
    Do you not remember the elephants, the mighty elephants, strong,
        mysterious, impalpable (no, not impalpable), pachydermatous, and
        the extraordinary accuracy with which they succeeded in balancing
        trees or parts of trees, branches, logs, beams, planks, ...
        etc., ... with their trunks (the beams carefully supported at their
        centre of gravity, the logs carefully supported at their centre of
        gravity, the elephants without a smile at_ their _centre of
    From Rangoon to Mandalay?_


    _On the road to Mandalay the flying-fishes play,
      But there are no omnibuses to ply.
    Is there not a thirst here, and are there any ten commandments?
    O you commandments! you first, second, third ... and tenth
        What has Mandalay to do with you, and what have you to do with

_Ha! What is that?_

    _Is it a sound, is it the thunder, the sudden thunder, strepitant,
    Is it the midday (twelve o'clock) cannon?_

_ No!_

    _Is it not then the ocean, the storm of the ocean?_

_ Divil a bit!_

    _Return, return then O soldiers,
    Return, you that have been discharged with pensions, as time-expired
        men, or as incorrigible and worthless,
    Return, for it is the dawn, and it is calling to you as it comes up
        from China,
    Though why from China do you ask me?
    Then ask me another!_


    _Clothes and the Man I sing._ Reformers, note
    These of the Subaltern who owned a Coat.

    He was what veterans miscall, for short,
    By that objectionable term, a wart:[2]

    The Coat an item of the 'sealed' attire
    Wrung from his helpless but reluctant sire;

    Also the tails were long; and, for the pride
    Thereof, were buttons on the after-side;

    Majestic orbs, whose gilded obverse bore
    The bossy symbol of his future corps.

    The youth, ere sailing for a distant land,
    Did, in the interval, receive command

[Footnote 2: A last-joined young officer.--_Military Definitions._]

    To join a 'Course,' where men of grave repute
    Instruct the young idea how to shoot.

    Thither he sped, and on the opening day
    Rose, and, empanoplied in brave array,

    (Ample of flowing skirt, and with great craft
    And pomp of blazoned buttonry abaft)

    Won to the mess, and preened his fledgling plumes
    Both in the breakfast and the ante-rooms.

    Awhile he moved in rapture, and awhile
    Thrilled in the old, inevitable style

    To that stern joy which youthful warriors feel
    In wearing garments worthy of their zeal;

    Then came the seneschal upon the scenes,
    And knocked his infant pride to smithereens.

    For out, alack! the Fathers of the mess
    Strictly prohibited that form of dress,

    Being by sad experience led to find
    Disaster in the buttonry behind,

    Which tore and scratched the leather-cushioned chairs,
    And cost a perfect fortune in repairs!

    It was a crushing blow. That Subaltern
    Discovered that he had a lot to learn;

    Removed his Coat, and laid it, weeping, in
    Its long sarcophagus of beaten tin:

    Buried it deep, and drew it thence no more;
    Finished his Course, and sought an alien shore.

       *       *       *       *       *

    So runs the tale. I had it from the youth
    Himself, and I suppose he told the truth.

    (The words alone are mine; I need but hint
    That his were too emotional for print.)

    And as in India, though the chairs are hard,
    His Coat--delicious irony--is barred;

    Being designed for cooler zones, and not
    For one inadequately known as 'hot';

    And, furthermore, as bold Sir Fashion brings
    Changes, yea, even to the soldier's things:

    He questions if the Coat were worth the price,
    Seeing that he will hardly wear it twice.


     'The Government of India _has been pleased_ to sanction the
     infliction of a fine of ..., etc.'

    To him that reads with careless eyes
        My present theme affords
    But little scope for enterprise
        In buttering one's lords:
    Fines, he would urge, have always bulked
        Largely to Those that rule,
    For, plainly, every man They mulct
        Contributes to the pool.

    But when in ages dead and gone
        Our fathers fought with Sin,
    However hard they laid it on,
        They didn't rub it in;
    While These not only bring to bear
        Their dark prerogatives,
    But diabolically air
        The pleasure that it gives!

    Here is the Iron Hand that builds
        Our realms beyond the sea;
    No _suaviter in modo_ gilds
        Their _fortiter in re_;
    Here is no washy velvet glove
        To pad the Fist of Fear--
    None of your guiding charms of Love--
        None of your hogwash here!

    No. From Their thrones amid the stars
        They glower athwart the land
    Implacable, with 'eye like Mars
        To threaten and command.'
    Too cold, too truculent, to stay
        The awful bolt They fling,
    They make no bones about it--They
        Are _pleased_ to do this thing!

    Blind to the victim's mask of woe,
        Deaf to his poignant howls,
    No pity stirs Their bosoms, no
        Reluctance wrings Their bow'ls!
    By prompt and ready cash alone
        Their wrath shall be appeased
    Who pile it on like gods, and own,
        Like men, to being pleased.


_After R. B._

    Tummas Katt cam' roun' to woo,
        Ha, ha, the wooin' o't;
    Lichtly sang ta lang nicht thro',
        Ha, ha, the mewin' o't;
    Tabbie, winsome, tim'rous beast,
    Speakit: 'Tummas, hand tha' weist!
    Girt auld Tummas 'gan inseest;
        Ha, ha, the doin' o't!

    Tabbie laucht, an' brawly fleired,
        Ha, ha, the fleirin' o't;
    Tummas,--ech! but Tummas speired
        Ha, ha, the speirin' o't;
    Sic an awesome, fearfu' screep,
    Wakin' a' aroun' frae sleep;
    Fegs, it gar'd the Gudeman weep!
        Ha, ha, the hearin' o't!

    Quoth the Gudeman: 'Dairm his een!'
        Ha, ha, the swearin' o't;
    'Muckle fasht was I yestreen,
        A' thro' the bearin' o't!
    Ere the sonsie moon was bricht,
    Clean awa' till mornin' licht,
    Mickle sleep was mine the nicht;
        Ha, ha, the wearin' o't!'

    'Where are noo ma booties twa?
        Ha, ha, the stoppin' o't;
    'Tis mysel' shall gar him fa';
        Ha, ha, the coppin' o't!
    'Gin a bootie, strang an' stoot,
    Sneckit Tummas roun' ta snoot,
    Winna Tummas gang frae oot?
        Ha, ha, the droppin' o't!'

    Swuft the pawky booties came,
        Ha, ha, the flittin' o't:
    Tummas scraught, an' lit for hame,
        Ha, ha, the spittin' o't;
    Lauchit Tabbs to see him fa';
    Leapit frae ta gairden wa';
    Quoth the Gudeman: 'Dairm it a'!
        What price the hittin' o't?'


    Christmas comes but once a year.
      Though by nature snappy,
    Let us, as we may, appear
      Merry, friend, and happy!
    Buckle to; and when you meet your
    Thunderstricken fellow-creature,
      Show the broad, indulgent smile
      Of th' ingenuous crocodile!
    Look as if you'd backed a winner!
    Laugh, you miserable sinner!

    Brother, Christmas Day has come.
      Can't you seek for inspi-
    ration in the turkey, plum-
      pudding, beef, and mince-pie?
    Brave it out, and tho' you sit on
    Tenterhooks, remain a Briton;
      You can only do your best;
      Boxing Day's a day of rest!
    Throw aside your small digestive
    Eccentricities. Be festive!

    Christmas Day is on the wing.
      Are you feeling wroth with
    Any one for anything?
      Beg his pardon _forth_with!
    Though the right is all on _your_ side,
    Say it isn't; say 'Of course I'd
      No intention--very rude--
      Shocking taste--but misconstrued'--
    Then (while I admit it's horri-
    fying) tell the man you're sorry!

    Christmas Day will soon have flown.
      If, despite persuasion,
    You resolve to be alone
      On the glad occasion,
    Better (do as I have done!)
    Vanish with a scatter-gun;
      If you have to see it through,
      (Better do what I shall do!)
    Dining quietly at the Club'll
    Save us from a world of trouble!



     ['Never do To-day what can be postponed till To-morrow, save
     at the dictates of your personal convenience.'--_Maxims of
     the Wicked_, No. 3.]

    Sweet Word, by whose unwearying assistance
      We of the Ruling Race, when sorely tried,
    Can keep intrusive persons at a distance,
      And let unseasonable matters slide;
    Thou at whose blast the powers of irritation
      Yield to a soft and gentlemanly lull
    Of solid peace and flat Procrastination,
      These to thy praise and honour, good old Kal!

    For we are greatly plagued by sacrilegious
      Monsters in human form, who care for naught
    Save with incessant papers to besiege us,
      E'en to the solemn hour of silent thought;
    They draw no line; the frightful joy of giving
      Pain is their guerdon; but for Thee alone,
    Life would be hardly worth the bore of living,
      No one could call his very soul his own.

    But in thy Name th' importunate besetter
      Meets a repelling force that none can stem;
    Varlets may come (they do) and go (they'd better!),
      Kal is the word that always does for them!
    _To-morrow_ they may join the usual muster;
      To-day shall pass inviolably by;
    BEELZEBUB Himself, for all his bluster,
      Would get the same old sickening reply.

    And, for thine aid in baffling the malignant,
      Who, with unholy art, conspire to see
    Our ease dis-eased, our dignity indignant,
      We do Thee homage on the bended knee.
    And I would add a word of common gratitude
      To those thy coadjutors, _ao_ and _lao_,[3]
    Who take, with Thee, th' uncompromising attitude
      From which the dullest mind deduces _jao_.

[Footnote 3: _Kal-ao_='return to-morrow'; _kal-lao_='bring it back
to-morrow.' Each of these phrases is the euphemistic equivalent of
_jao_, that is, 'go away, (and stay there).']



    Solace of mine hours of anguish,
      Peace-imparting View, when I,
    Sick of Hindo-Sturm-und-Drang, wish
      I could lay me down and die,

    Very present help in trouble,
      Never-failing anodyne
    For the blows that knock us double,
      Here's towards thee, Hathi mine!

    As, 'tis said, the dolorous Jack Tar
      Turns to view the watery Vast,
    When he mourns his frail charàc-tar,
      Or deplores his jagged Past,

    Climbs a cliff, and breathes his sighs on
      That appalling breast until,
    Borne from off the far horizon,
      Voices whisper, 'Cheer up, Bill!'

    So when evil chance or dark as-
      persions crush the bosom's lord,
    When discomfort rends the car-cass,
      When we're sorry, sick, or bored,

    When the year is at its hottest,
      And our life with sorrow crowned,
    Gazing thee-wards, where thou blottest
      Out the landscape, pulls us round,

    Gives us peace, some nameless modi-
      cum of cheer to mind and eye:
    Something that can soothe a body
      Like a blessed lullaby.

    Sweet it is to watch thee, Hathi,
      Through the stertorous afternoons,
    Wond'ring why so stout a party
      Wears such baggy pantaloons:

    Sweet, again, to steal a-nigh and
      Watch thee, ere thy meals begin,
    Deftly weigh th' unleavened viand,
      Lest thou be deceived therein:

    Sweet to mark thee gravely dining:
      Grand, when day has nearly gone,
    'Tis to view yon Orb declining
      Down behind thee, broadside on:

    Ay! and when thy vassals tub thee,
      And thou writhest 'neath the brick
    Wherewithal they take and scrub thee,
      'Twere a sight to heal the sick!

    Not a pose but serves to ward off
      Pangs that had of yore prevailed;
    E'en the stab of being scored off
      Owns the charm, old Double-Tailed!

    But, O Thou that giv'st the flabby
      Strength, and stingo'st up the weak:-
    Restful as a grand old Abbey--
      Bracing as a Mountain Peak:--

    All the bonds of Age were slackened,
      And my years were out of sight,
    When I burst upon thy back end
      As thou kneeled'st yesternight!

    Head and frame were hidden. Only
      Loomed a black, colossal Seat,
    Taut, magnificent, and lonely,
      O'er a pair of suppliant feet

    To th' astounded mind conveying
      Dreams from which my manhood shrank,
    Of a very fat man praying,
      Whom a boy would love to spank.

    And I felt my fingers twitching,
      And my sinews turned to wire,
    And my palm was itching, itching,
      With the old, unhallowed fire.

    While the twofold voice within me
      Urged their long-forgotten feud,
    One to do thee shame would win me,--
      One that whispered, 'Don't be rude!'

    Till, by heaven! thy pleading beauty
      Drove those carnal thoughts away,
    And the friend that came to scruti-
      nise was left behind to pray:--

    For I shamed thee not, nor spanked thee;
      But to rearward, on the plain,
    Hathi, on my knees I thanked thee
      That I felt a boy again!



    It is told, in Buddhi-theosophic Schools
                    There are rules
    By observing which when mundane matter irks,
        Or the world has gone amiss, you
        Can incontinently issue
        From the circumscribing tissue
                    Of your Works.

    That the body and the gentleman inside
                    Can divide,
    And the latter, if acquainted with the plan,
        Can alleviate the tension
        By remaining 'in suspension'
        As a kind of fourth dimension
                    Bogie man.

    And to such as mourn an Indian Solar Crime
                    At its prime,
    'Twere a stratagem so luminously fit,
        That tho' doctrinaires deny it,
        And Academicians guy it,
        I, for one, would like to try it
                    For a bit.

    Just to leave one's earthly tenement asleep
                    In a heap,
    And detachedly to watch it as it lies,
        With an epidermis pickled
        Where the prickly heat has prickled,
        And a sense of being tickled
                    By the flies.

    And to sit and loaf and idle till the day
                    Dies away,
    In a duplicate ethereally cool,
        Or around the place to potter,
        (Tho' the flesh could hardly totter,)
        As contented as an otter
                    In a pool!

    'Let the pestilent mosquito do his worst
                    Till he burst,
    Let him bore and burrow, morning, noon, and night,
        If he finds the diet sweet, oh,
        Who am _I_ to place a veto
        On the pestilent mosquito?--
                    _Let_ him bite!'

    O my cumbersome misfit of bone and skin,
                    Could I win
    To the wisdom that would render me exempt
        From the grosser bonds that tether
        You and Astral Me together,
        I should simply treat the weather
                    With contempt;

    I should contemplate its horrors with entire
                    Lack of ire,
    And pursuant to my comfortable aim,
        With a snap at every shackle
        I should quit my tabernacle,
        And serenely sit and cackle
                    At the game!

    But, alas! the 'mystic glory swims away,'
                    And the clay
    Is as vulgarly persistent as of yore,
        And the cuticle is pickled
        Where the prickly heat has prickled,
        And the nose and ears are tickled
                    As before;

    And until the Buddhi-theosophic Schools
                    Print the rules
    That will bring our tale of sorrows to a close,
        Body mine, though others chide thee,
        And consistently deride thee,
        I shall have to stay inside thee,
                    I suppose!


    Come, let us quaff the brimming cup
      Of sorrow, bitterness, and pain;
    For clearly, things are warming up

    Observe with what awakened powers
      The vulgar Sun resumes the right
    Of rising in the hallowed hours
                    Of night.

    Bound to the village water-wheel,
      The motive bullock bows his crest,
    And signals forth a mute appeal
                    For rest.

    His neck is galled beneath the yoke:
      His patient eyes are very dim:
    Life is a dismal sort of joke
                    To _him_.

    Yet one there is, to whom the ox
      Is kin; who knows, as habitat,
    The cold, unsympathetic box,
                    Or mat;

    Who urges on, with wearied arms,
      The punkah's rhythmic, laboured sweep,
    Nor dares to contemplate the charms
                    Of sleep.

    Now 'mid a host of lesser things
      That pasture through the heaving nights,
    The sharp mosquito flaps his wings,
                    And bites;

    With other Anthropophagi,
      Such as that microscopic brand
    The common Sand-fly (or the fly
                    Of sand),

    Who, with a hideous lust uncurbed
      By clappings of the frequent palm,
    Devours one's ankles, undisturbed,
                    And calm.

    The scorpion nips one unaware:
      The lizard flops upon the head:
    And cobras, uninvited, share
                    One's bed.

    Oh, if I only had the luck
      To feel the grand Olympic fire
    That thrilled the Greater when they struck
                    The lyre!

    When Homer wrote of this and that:
      When Dante sang like one possessed:
    When Milton groaned and laboured at
                    His Best!

    Had I the swelling rise and fall,
      Whereof the Bo'sun's quivering moan
    Derives a breezy fragrance all
                    Its own:

    Oh, I would pour such passion out--
      Good gracious me!--I would so sing
    That you should know the _facts_ about
                    This thing!

    Then w-w-wake, my Lyre! O halting lilt!
      O miserable, broken lay!
    It may not be: I am not built
                    That way.

    Yet other gifts the gods bestow.
      I do not weep, I do not grieve.
    Far from it. I shall simply go
                    On leave.


    From the dust, and the drought, and the heat,
      I am borne on the pinions of leave,
    From the things that are bad to repeat
      To the things that are good to receive.

    From the glare of the day at its height
      On a land that was blinding to see,
    From the wearisome hiss of the night,
      By a turn of the wheel I am free.

    I have passed to the heart of the Hills,
      For a season of halcyon hours,
    'Mid the music of murmurous rills,
      And the delicate odours of flowers;

    And I walk in an exquisite shade,
      Where the fern-tasselled boughs interlace;
    And the verdurous fringe of the glade
      Is a marvel of fairylike grace;

    And with never an aim or a plan
      I can wander in uttermost ease,
    Where the only reminders of Man
      Are the monkeys aloft in the trees;

    Or, perchance, on the 'silvery mere,'
      In a 'shallop' I lazily float,
    With--it's possible--some one to steer,
      Or with no one (which lightens the boat).

    O the glorious gift of release
      From the chains that encircle the thrall,
    To be quiet, and cool, and at peace,
      And to loaf, and do nothing at all!

    I am clear of that infamous lark;
      I am far from the blare of the Band;
    And the bugles are silent, the bark
      Of the Colonel is hushed in the land.

    And--I say it again--I am free,
      In the valleys of wandering bliss;
    And most gratefully 'own, if there _be_
      An Elysium on earth, it is this!'


                '... O she,
    To me myself, for some three careless moons,
    The summer pilot of an empty heart
    Unto the shores of Nothing.'--_Tennyson_.

    'Tis the hour when golden slumbers
        Through th' Hesperian portals creep,
    And the youth who lisps in numbers
        Dreams of novel rhymes to 'sleep';
    _I_ shall merely note, at starting,
        That responsive Nature thrills
    To the _twilight_ hour of parting
        From my Lady of the Hills.

    Lady, 'neath the deepening umbrage
        We have wandered near and far,
    To the ludicrously dumb rage
        Of your truculent Mamma;
    We have urged the long-tailed gallop;
        Lightly danced the still night through;
    Smacked the ball, and oared the shallop
        (In a vis-à-vis canoe);

    We have walked this fair Oasis,
        Keeping, more by skill than chance,
    To the non-committal basis
        Of indefinite romance;
    Till, as love within me ripened,
        I have wept the hours away,
    Brooding on my meagre stipend,
        Mourning mine exiguous pay.

    Dear, 'tis hard, indeed, to stifle
        Fervour such as mine has grown,
    And I 'd freely give a trifle
        Could I win you for mine own;
    But the question simply narrows
        Down to one persistent fact,
    That we cannot say we're sparrows,
        And we oughtn't so to act.

    Married bliss is born of incomes;
        While to drag the long years through
    Till some hypothetic tin comes,
        Seems a childish thing to do;
    Rather let us own as lasting
        Our unpardonable crime,
    Giving thanks, with prayer and fasting,
        For so very high a time.

    Fare you well. Your dreadful Mother,
        If I know that woman's mind,
    Has her eye upon Another
        _Vice_ me, my dear, resigned;
    And I see you mated shortly
        To some covenanted swain,
    Not objectionably portly,
        Not prohibitively plain.

    Take his gifts, and ask a blessing.
        Meddle not with minor cares.
    Trust me, your unprepossessing
        Dam soon settles those affairs!
    Then will I, with honeyed suasion,
        Pinch some thriftless man of bills
    Of a mark of the occasion
        For my Lady of the Hills.


    There's a little lake that lies
    In a valley, where the skies
    Kiss the mountains, as they rise,
            On the crown;
    And the heaven-born élite
    Are accustomed to retreat
    From the pestilential heat
            Lower down.

    Where the Mighty, for a space,
    Mix with Beauty, Rank, and Grace,
    (I myself was in the place,
            At my best!)
    And the atmosphere's divine,
    While the deodar and pine
    Are particularly fine
            For the chest.

    And a little month ago,
    When the sun was lying low,
    And the water lay aglow
            Like a pearl,
    I, remarkably arrayed,
    Dipped an unobtrusive blade
    In the lake--and in the shade--
            With a girl.

    O 'twas pleasant thus to glide
    On the 'softly-flowing tide'
    (Which it's not!) and, undescried,
            Take a hand
    In the sweet, idyllic sports
    That are known in such resorts,
    To the sympathetic snorts
            Of the Band.

    Till, when o'er the 'still lagoon'
    Passed the golden afternoon,
    The preposterous bassoon,
            Growling deep,
    Saved the King and knelled the day
    As the crimson changed to grey
    And the little valley lay
            Half asleep.

    It is finished. She was kind.
    'Out of sight is out of mind.'
    But the taste remains behind,
            (And the bills,)
    And I'd give the world to know
    If there's some one else in tow
    With my love (a month ago)
            In the Hills!

    O ye valleys, tell me, pray,
    Was she on the lake to-day?
    Does she foot it in the gay,
            Social whirl?
    O ye Mountains of Gilboa,
    Send a bird, or kindly blow a
    Breeze to tell me all you know a-
            bout that girl!


_After A. T._

    So for the last great Hockey of the Hills,
    --Damsel _v._ Dame--by ruder cynics called
    The Tournament of the Dead Dignities,
    We gained the lists, and I, thro' humorous lens,
    Perused the revels. Here on autumn grass
    Leapt the lithe-elbowed Spin, and strongly merged
    In scrimmage with the comfortable Wife
    And temporary Widow,--know you not,
    Such trifles are the merest commonplace
    In loftier contours?--Twenty-two in all
    They numbered, and none other trod the field
    Save one, the bold Sir Referee, whose charge
    It was to keep fair order in the lists,
    And peace 'twixt Dame and Damsel: married, he.

    O brothers, had ye seen them! O the games!
    Fleet-footed some: lightly they leapt, and drave
    Or missed the pellet; then, perchance, would turn
    With hand that sought their tresses. Others moved
    Careless, in half disdain, nor urged pursuit;
    Yet ever and anon would shriek, and miss
    The pellet, while the bold Sir Referee
    Skipt in avoidance. From the factions came
    The cry of voices shrilling woman-wise,
    The clash of stick on stick, the muffled shin,
    The sudden whistle, and the murmurous note
    Of mutual disaffection. Otherwhere
    The myriad coolie chortled, knightly palms
    Clapped, and the whole vale echoed to the noise
    Of ladies, who in session to the West
    Sat with the light behind them, self-approved.

    Fortune with equal favour poised the scale,
    And loudlier rang the trouble, till I heard
    'A Susan! Ho! A Susan!'--She, oh she,
    One whom myself had picked from out the crowd
    Of hot girl-athletes with their tousled hair,
    Was on the ball. Deftly she smote, and drave
    On, and so paddled swiftly in its wake.
    The good ash gleamed and fell; the forward ranks
    Gave passage; once again she smote, again
    Paddled, nor passed, but paddling ever neared
    The mournful guardian of the Sacred Goal,
    Hewing and hacking. Little need to tell
    Of Susan in her glory; whom she smote
    She felled, and whom she shocked she overthrew;
    And, shrieking, passed exultant to her doom.

    For Susan, while she clove a devious course,
    Moved crab-like, in a strange diagonal,
    And, driving, crossed the frontiers. Thither came
    The bold Sir Referee, and shrilled abroad
    The tremulous, momentary 'touch.' But she,
    Heaving with unaccustomed exercise,
    Blinded and baffled, wild with all despair,
    Stood sweeping, as a churl that sweeps the scythe
    In earlier pastures. Twice he skipped, and poured
    The desperate whistle. Once again, and he,
    Skipping, diffused the whistle. But at last,
    So shrewd a blow she dealt him on the shin,
    That had he stood reverse-wise on his head,
    Not on his feet, I know not what had chanced.
    Then to the shuddering Orient skies there rose
    A marvellous great shriek, the splintering noise
    Of shattered ash-plant and of battered shank,
    Mixed with a higher. For Susan, overwrought,
    Lost footing, and with one clear dolorous wail
    Fell headlong, only more so. And I saw,
    Clothed in black stockings, mystic, wonderful,
    That which I saw. The coolies yelled. The crowd
    Closed round, and so the tourney reached an end.

    Then home they bore the bold Sir Referee
    In Susan's litter; and they tended him
    With curious tendance; and they drowned his views
    On Susan, and the tourney, and the place
    Whither he'd see them ere again he ruled
    Such functions, with a sweet, small song (I call
    It sweet that should not!). This is how it ran:--

    'Our Referee has fall'n, has fall'n. The stick,
    The little stick he leapt at in the lists
    Has riven and cleft the bark, and raised a bulk
    Of crescent span, that spreads on every side
    A thousand hues, all flushing into one.

    'Our Referee has fall'n, has fall'n. She came,
    The woman with her ash, and lo the wound!
    But we will make a bandage for the limb,
    And swathe it, heel to knee, with splints and wool,
    And embrocations for the hurts of man.

    'Our Referee has fall'n, has fall'n; he wailed;
    With our own ears we heard him, and we knew
    _There dwelt an iron nature in the grain_!
    The splintering ash was cloven on his limb;
    His limb was battered to the cannon-bone.'

    So passed that stout but choleric knight away;
    And we, by certain wandering instincts led,
    Made for a small pavilion, where we found
    Viands and what not, and the thirsty flower
    Of mountain knighthood gathered at the board.
    And entering, here we lingered, and discussed
    The what not, and the viands, and in time
    Drew to the tourney, giving each his views;--
    But mostly wondering what the coolies thought
    To see these ladies of the Ruling Race,
    'Yoked in all _exercise_ of noble end,'
    And Public Exhibition. Was it wise?
    Some questioned; others, was it quite the thing?

    And here indeed we left it, for the shades
    Deepened, the high, swift-narrowing crest of day
    Brake from the hills, and down the path we went,
    Well pleased, for it was guest-night at the Club.


    'Farewell. What a subject! How sweet
        It looks to the careless observer!
    So simple; so easy to treat
        With tenderness, mark you, and fervour.
    _Farewell_. It's a poem; the song
        Of nightingales crying and calling!'
    O Reader, you're utterly wrong.
            It's not. It's appalling!

    And yet when she asked me to send
        Some trifle of verse to remind her
    Of days that had come to an end,
        And one she was leaving behind her,
    It looked, as we stood on the shore,
        A theme so entirely delightsome
    That I, like a lunatic, swore
            (Quite calmly) to write some.

    I've toiled with unwavering pluck;
        I've struggled if ever a man did;
    Infringed every postulate, stuck
        At nothing,--nay, once, to be candid,
    I shifted the cadence--designed
        A fresh but unauthorised _fare_-well;
    'Twas plausible, too, but I find
            The thing doesn't wear well.

    I know that it shouldn't be hard;
        That dozens, who claim to be poets,
    Could scribble off stuff by the yard
        And fare very well; and I know it's
    A theme that the Masters of Rhyme
        Have written some excellent verse on,
    Which proves, as I take it, that I'm
            Not that sort of person.

    But that we can leave. It remains
        To state that my present appearance
    Is something too awful, my brains
        Are tending to wild incoherence;
    My mental condition's absurd;
        My thoughts are at sixes and sevens,
    Inextrica--lord! what a word!
            Inextri--good heavens!

    My dear, you can do what you like,--
        Forgive, or despise, or abuse me--
    But frankly, I'm going on strike,
        And really you'll have to excuse me.
    Indeed it's my only resource,
        For, sure as I stuck to my promise, I'd
    Be booked in a week for a course
            Of sui-_cum_-homicide.


11.30 P.M., DEC. 31

    Friend, when the year is on the wing,
    'Tis held a fair and comely thing
        To turn reflective glances
    Over the days' forbidden Scroll,
    See if we're better on the whole,
        And average our chances.

    Yet 'tis an awful thing to drag
    Each separate deed from out the bag
        That up till now has hidden 't,
    And bring before the shuddering view
    All that we swore we wouldn't do,
        Or should have done, but didn't.

    The broken code, the baffled laws
    Our little private faults and flaws,
        And every naughty habit,
    Come whistling through the Waste of Life,
    Until one longs to take a knife,
        Feel for his heart, and stab it.

    Unchanged, exultant, one and all
    Rise up spontaneous to the call,
        And bring their stings behind them;
    But when the search is duly plied
    For items on the credit side,
        One has a job to find them!

    I know not _why_ they change. I know--
    None better--how one's feelings grow
        Distinctly kin to mutiny,
    To see one's assets limping in,
    All too preposterously thin
        To stand a moment's scrutiny.

    I know that shock must follow shock,
    Until the sole remaining Rock
        That all one's hopes exist on,
    Crumbles beneath the crushing force
    Of Conscience, kicking like a horse,
        And pounding like a piston.

    Hardly a little year has past
    Since you, I take it, swore to cast
        Aside the bonds that girt you,
    And thought to stun the dazzled earth,
    A pillared Miracle of Worth,
        Raised on a plinth of Virtue.

    One always does. One wonders why.
    One knows that, as the years go by,
        One finds the same old blunders,
    The same old acts, the same old words;
    And as one trots them out in herds,
        Or one by one, one wonders;

       *       *       *       *       *

    Another year,--a touch of grey,--
    A little stiffness,--day by day
    We feel the need of, shall we say,
        Goggles to face the sun with,--
    A little loss of youthful bloom,--
    A little nearer to the Tomb!
    (Pardon this momentary gloom)
        Bang go the bells. _That's_ done with!



_After A. C. S._

    In Spring there are lashings of new books,
      In Autumn fresh novels are sold,
    They are many, but my shelf has few books,
      My comrades, the favourites of old;
    Tho' the roll of the cata-logues vary,
      Thou alone art unchangeably dear,
    O bibulous, beautiful Sairey,
              Our Lady of Cheer.

    By the whites of thine eyes that were yellow,
      By the folds of thy duplicate chin,
    By thy voice that was husky but mellow
      With gin, with the richness of gin,
    By thy scorn of the boy that was Bragian,
      By thy wealth of perambulate swoons,
    O matchless and mystical Magian,
              Beguile us with boons.

    For thou scatterest the evil before us
      With grave humours and exquisite speech,
    Till we heed not the 'new men that _bore_ us,'
      Nor regard the new women that screech;
    We are weak, but thy hand shall refresh us;
      We are faint, but we know thee sublime;
    More priceless than pills, and more precious
              Than draughts that are slime.

    Thou hast lifted us forth from the _melly_,
      Thou hast told, with thick heavings of pride,
    Of the Package in Jonadge's belly,
      And the Camel that rich folks may ride;
    From the mire and the murk of a stern Age
      In the Font of St. Polge we are clean,
    O Gold as has passed through the Furnage,
              Our Lady and Queen.

       *       *       *       *       *

    In thy chamber where Holborn is highest,
      At the banquet, ere night had begun,
    Thou wert seated with her that was nighest
      Thy heart, save the Only, the One;
    For the hours of thy labour were ended,
      And the spirit of peace was within,
    And the fumes from the teapot ascended
              Of unsweetened gin.

    Dost thou dream in dim dusk when light lingers,
      Of Betsy, the bage, the despiged,
    Who with snap of imperious fingers
      Hariçina, thy figment, deniged?
    Dost thou gasp at the shock of the blow sich
      As she, in her tantrum, let fall,
    Who 'didn't believe there was no sich
              A person' at all?

    Fear not! Though the torters be frightful,
      Though the words that thou took'st unawares
    Be as serpiants that twine and are spiteful,
      O thou best of good creeturs, who cares?
    For the curse hath recoiled, and the stigma
      Thou hast turned to her sorrer and shame,
    While thy cryptic and sombre Enigma
              Is shrined in a Name.

       *       *       *       *       *

    And our wine shall not lack for thy throttle,
      Nor at night shall our portals be cloged,
    And thy lips thou shalt place to the bottle
      On our chimley, when so thou'rt dispoged;
    We have pickled 'intensely' our salmon;
      To thy moods are great cowcumbers dressed,
    O Daughter of Gumption and Gammon,
              Our Mistress and Guest!

    And in hours when our lamp-ile has dwindled
      In deep walleys of uttermost pain,
    When our hopes to grey ashes are kindled,
      We are fain of thee still, we are fain;
    In this Piljian's Projiss of Woe, in
      This Wale of white shadders and damp,
    O Roge all a-blowin' and growin',
              We open our Gamp!


_After W. W._

     An adventure of the Author's, and one designed to show that
     grievances may be met with in the cottages of the humblest,
     and may take the most unexpected forms.

    When in my white-washed walls confined
        Till eve her freedom brings,
    I often turn a musing mind
        To think awhile of things,

    And thus about the noontide glow
        To-day my thoughts recalled
    Old Adam, whom I once did know,
        A dear old thing, though bald.

    A village Gravedigger was he
        With Newgate fringe of grey,
    The only man that one could see
        At work on Saturday!

    For on those evenings (which provide
        A due release to toil)
    He shovelled wearily, and plied
        His task upon the soil.

    Therein a sorrow Adam had,
        And when he knew me well
    He told this tale, and made me sad,
        Which now to you I tell.

    For once my feet did chance to stray
        Across the old churchyard,
    And Adam sighed, and paused to say
        'It's werry, werry hard.'

    I marvelled much to hear him sigh,
        And when he paused again,
    'Come, come, you quaint old thing,' said I,
        'Why thus this tone of pain?'

    In silence Adam rose, and gained
        A seat amid the stones,
    And thus the veteran complained,
        The dear old bag of bones.

    'Down by the wall the Village goes,
        How horrid sounds their glee,
    On Saturdays they early close,
        They have their Sundays free;

    'And here, on this depressing spot,
        I cannot choose but moan
    That I, a labouring man, have not
        An hour to call my own.

    'The Blacksmith in his Sunday things,
        The Clerk that leaves his till,
    Can give their thoughts of labour wings,
        And frolic as they will.

    'To me they--drat 'em!--never give
        A thought; they wander by,
    An irritation while they live,
        A nuisance when they die.

    'If there be one that needs lament
        The way these folks behave,
    'Tis he whose holidays are spent
        In digging someone's grave,

    'For when a person takes and dies,
        On Monday though it be,
    They _never_ hold his obsequies
        Till Sunday after three.

    'And thus it fares through their delay,
        That I may not begin
    To dig the grave till Saturday,--
        On Sunday fill it in.

    'My Sabbath ease is broken through,
        My Saturdays destroyed;
    Many employ me; _very few
        Have left me unemployed_!'

    Again did Adam murmur 'Drat!'
        And smote the old-churchyard,
    And said, as on his hands he spat,
        'It's werry, werry hard!'

    And as I rose, the path to take
        That led me home again,
    My head was in my wideawake,
        His words were in my brain.



    Come, let us weep for Begum; he is dead.
      Dead; and afar, where Thamis' waters lave
    The busy marge, he lies unvisited,
      Unsung; above no cypress branches wave,
      Nor tributary blossoms fringe his grave;
    Only would these poor numbers advertise
    His copious charms, and mourn for his demise.

    Blithesome was he and beautiful; the Zoo
      Hath nought to match with Begum. He was one
    Of infinite humour; well indeed he knew
      To catch with mobile lips th' impetuous bun
      Tossed him-ward by some sire-encouraged son,
    Half-fearful, yet of pride fulfilled to note
    The dough, swift-homing down th' exultant throat.

    Whilom he pensive stood, infoliate
      Of comfortable mud, and idly stirred
    His tiny caudal, disproportionate
      But not ungraceful, while a wanton herd
      Of revellers the mystic lens preferred;
    Whereof the focus rightly they addrest;
    And, Phoebus being kind, the button prest.

    Then, being frolic, he, as one distraught,
      Would blindly, stumbling, seek the watery verge
    And sink, nor rise again. But when, untaught
      In craft, the mourners raised the untimely dirge,
      Lo! otherwhere himself would swift emerge
    Incontinent, and crisp his tasselled ears;
    And, all vivacious, own the sounding cheers.

    Nothing of dark suspicion nor of guile
      Was limned on Begum; his the mirthful glance,
    The genial port, the comprehensive smile:--
      The very sunbeams shimmering loved to dance
      Within that honest, open countenance;--
    And far as eye could pierce, his roomy grin
    Was pink, as 'twere Aurora dwelt therein.

    Yet he is dead! Whether the froward cates
      Some lawless lodgment found, nor coughs released:
    Or if adown those hospitable gates
      Drave the strong North, or shrilled the ravening East,
      And, ill-requiting, slew the wretched beast,
    We nothing know; only the news is cried,
    Begum is dead: we know not how he died.

    Still, though the callous bards neglect to hymn
      Thy praises, Begum; though, on dross intent,
    The hireling sculptor pauseth not to limn
      Thy spacious visage, kindly hands are bent
      E'en now to stuff thy frail integument.
    Then sleep in peace, Belovèd; blest Sultân
    Of some Rhinokeraunian Devachân.


No. 1


    We hear the opening refrain,
    We thought so; here you are again,
    A simple tune, in simple thirds,
    Beloved of after-dinner birds;
    A legend, self-condemned as 'words,'

    She lingers by the flowing tide,
    A 'fisher-lad' is close beside
    He gazes in her 'eyes so blue';
    _Marie, Marie, my heart is true_;
    And then,--you do, you know you do,

    But vain is every mortal wish,
    And 'fisher-lads' have got to fish,
    O blinding tears! O cheeks 'so' wet!
    _Marie, I come again!_ And yet
    I shouldn't feel disposed to bet,

    A tempest drives across the wave,
    With triplets in the treble stave,
    The player pounds. With bulging eyes
    Th' excited vocalist replies;
    The maddened octaves drown his cries,

    The storm is past. We hear again,
    The simple thirds, the waltz refrain,
    We only see some drifting wrack,
    An empty bunk, a battered smack,
    Alas! Alas!! Alack!!! Alack!!!!

    O good old words, O 'tears that rise,'
    O good young fisher-lad that dies,
    We leave you on the lonely shore;--
    You wave your hands for evermore,
    A bleak, disgusted semaphore,


No. 2


    Why do you sit in the churchyard weeping?
      Why do you cling to the dear old graves,
    When the dim, drear mists of the dusk are creeping
      Out of the marshes in wan, white waves?
    Darling, I know you're a slave to sorrow;
      Dearie, I _know_ that the world is cruel;
    But _you'll_ be in bed with a cold to-morrow,
      _I_ shall be running upstairs with gruel.

    Why do you weep on a tombstone, Mammy,
      Sobbing alone in the drizzling sleet,
    When the chill mists rise, and the wind strikes clammy?
      Think of your bones, and your poor old feet!
    Darling, I know that you feel lugubrious;
      Dearie, I _know_ you must work this off;
    But graveyards are not, as a rule, salubrious,
      Whence the expression, a 'churchyard cough.'

[_The Old Lady explains her eccentric behaviour._]

    Why do I ululate, dear my dearie,
      Coiled on a nastily mildewed tomb,
    When the horned owl hoots, and the world is weary,
      Weary of sorrow, and swamped in gloom?
    Childie my child, 'tis a cogent question;
      Dearie my dear, if you wish to know,
    Tis not that I suffer from indigestion,
      But that the Public ordains it so.

    Babies, and Aunties, and dying brothers,
      Boom for a season, as 'loves' may part;
    But the old shop-ballad of Morbid Mothers
      Dives to the depths of the Public's heart.
    Dearie, with booms, at the best, precarious,
      All but the permanent needs must fail;
    And Childie, if Mammy became hilarious,
      Mammy would never command a sale.


    Once for a tight little Island, fonder of ha'pence than kicks,
    Rud., a maker of verses, sang of an Empire of Bricks,
    Sang of the Sons of that Empire--told them they came of the Blood--
    Rubbing it under their noses. _Read ye the Story of Rud_!

    Pleased was the Public to hear it--rose in their hundreds to sing--
    Swallowed it, chewed it, and gurgled: 'Verily, this is the thing!
    Thus do we wallop our foemen--roll 'em away in the mud--
    This is the People that _we_ are. Glory and laurels for Rud.!'

    Later he pictured a Panic--later he pictured a Scare,
    Pictured the burning of coast towns--skies in a reddening glare--
    Pictured the Mafficking Million--collared, abortive, alone--
    Out of the duty he owed them, pictured them down to the bone.

    Sick was the Public to read it--passed it along to 'the Sports'--
    'Fools in the full-flannelled breeches, oafs in the muddy-patched
    Loafers and talkers and writers, furtively whispering low--
    '_Say_ that it's like 'em--it _may_ be--nobody ever need know.

    'Rud.,--would he drive us to Barracks--make of us militant hordes--
    Broke to the spit of the pom-pom--trained to the flashing of swords?--
    Pooh! It is _these_ that he goes for--Sport is the bubble he pricks--
    Doubt not but _we_ are The People--Bricks of an Empire of Bricks!'

    What of that maker of verses? Did he not answer the call:
    'Loafers and talkers and writers, children or knaves are ye all;
    Look at the lines ere ye quote them: read, ere ye cackle as geese!'?
    Nay. But he passed from The People--left them to stew in their grease.

       *       *       *       *       *

    But a hyphen-ish growl makes answer: 'Ye that would take from the whole
    The one line robbed of the context, nor win to the straight-set Goal,
    Is it thus ye will fend the warning--thus ye will move the shame
    From the Mob that watch by the thousand, to the dozens that play the
    Still will ye pay at the turnstile--thronging the rope-ringed Match,
    Where the half-back fumbles the leather, or the deep-field butters
        the catch?
    Will ye thank your gods (being 'umble) that the fool and the oaf are
    In the field, at the goal or the wicket, and _not_ in the seats around?
    _Not_ in the Saturday Squallers--men of a higher grade--
    That lay down a law they know not, of a game that they have not played?
    Holding the folly of flannel, still will ye teach the Schools
    That Wisdom is dressed in shoddy, and how should the Wise be fools?
    Not doubting but ye are The People--ye are the Sons of The Blood?
    Loafers and talkers and writers,--_Read ye the Verses of Rud._!'



    I am tired of the day with its profitless labours,
      And tired of the night with its lack of repose,
    I am sick of myself, my surroundings, and neighbours,
      Especially Aryan Brothers and crows;
    O land of illusory hope for the needy,
      O centre of soldiering, thirst, and shikar,
    When a broken-down exile begins to get seedy,
          What a beast of a country you are!

    There are many, I know, that have honestly drawn a
      Most moving description of pleasures to win
    By the exquisite carnage of such of your fauna
      As Nature provides with a 'head' or a 'skin';
    I know that a pig is magnificent sticking;
      But good as you are in the matter of sports,
    When a person's alive, so to put it, and kicking,
          You're a brute when a man's out of sorts.

    For the moment he feels the effects of the weather--
      A mild go of fever--a touch of the sun--
    He arrives with a jerk at the end of his tether,
      And finds your attractions a bit overdone;
    Impatiently conscious of boredom and worry,
      He sits in his misery, scowling at grief,
    With a face like a pallid _rechauffée_ of curry,
          And a head like a lump of boiled beef.

    I am sick of the day (as I happened to mention),
      And sick of the night (as I stated before),
    And it's oh, for the wings of a dove or a pension
      To carry me home to a happier shore!
    And oh, to be off, homeward bound, on the briny,
      Away from the tropics--away from the heat,
    And to take off a shocking old hat to the Shiny,
          As I shake off her dust from my feet!


    Away, away! The plains of Ind
        Have set their victim free;
    I give my sorrows to the wind,
        My sun-hat to the sea;
    And, standing with a chosen few,
        I watch a dying glow,
    The passing of the Finest View
        That all the world can show.

    It would not fire an artist's eye,
        This View whereof I sing;
    Poets, no doubt, would pass it by
        As quite a common thing;
    The Tourist with belittling sniff
        Would find no beauties there--
    He couldn't if he would, and if
        He could he wouldn't care.

    Only for him that turns the back
        On dark and evil days
    It throws a glory down his track
        That sets his heart ablaze;
    A charm to make the wounded whole,
        Which wearied eyes may draw
    Luxuriously through the soul,
        Like cocktails through a straw.

    I have seen strong men moved to tears
        When gazing o'er the deep,
    Hard men, whom I have known for years,
        Nor dreamt that they could weep;
    Even myself, though stern and cold
        Beyond the common line,
    Cannot, for very joy, withhold
        The tribute of my brine.

    Farewell, farewell, thou best of Views!
        I leave thee to thy pain,
    And, while I have the power to choose,
        We shall not meet again;
    But, 'mid the scenes of joy and mirth,
        My fancies oft will turn
    Back to the Finest Sight on Earth,
        The Bombay Lights--_astern_!


    Here, in mine old-time harbourage installed,
      Lulled by the murmurous hum of London's traffic
    To that full calm which may be justly called

    I praise the gods; and vow, for my escape
      From the hard grip of premature Jehannun,
    One golden-tissued bottle of the grape
                            Per annum.

    For on this day, from Orient toils enlarged,
      Kneeling, I kissed the parent soil at Dover,
    Where a huge porter in his orbit charged
                            Me over;

    Flashed in the train by Shorncliffe's draughty camp;
      Gazed on the hurrying landscape's pastoral graces,
    Old farms, and happy fields (a trifle damp
                            In places);

    Passed the grim suburbs, indigent and bare
      Of natural foliage, but bravely flying
    Frank garlandry of last week's underwear
                            Out drying;

    And so to Town; and with that blessed sight
      I, a poor fevered wreck, forgot to shiver--
    Forgot to mourn the Burden of my White
                            Man's Liver;

    And felt my bosom heave, my breast expand,
      With thoughts too sweet, too deep for empty cackle,
    Such thoughts as nothing but a first-class Band
                            Could tackle:

    Till, from its deeps, my celebrated smile
      (Which friends called Marvel) clove my jaws asunder,
    Lucid, intense, and all men stood awhile
                            In wonder!

       *       *       *       *       *

    Let none approach me now, for I have dined;
      The fire is bright; Havana's choice aroma
    Infects my being with a pleasant kind
                            Of coma;

    Calmly I contemplate my future lot:
      I reconstruct the past--it fails to strike me
    With aught of horror (pity there are not
                            More like me!)--

    My bosom's lord sits lightly on my breast;
      The East grows dim; and every hour I stuck to it
    Imparts a richer brightness to the West,
                            Good luck to it!

       *       *       *       *       *

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Rhymes of the East and Re-collected Verses" ***

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