Poetry Month – Rudyard Kipling’s “Gunga Din”

Okay, maybe Kipling isn’t politically correct, but his heart was in the right place. It was a different time and a different world.

I can’t help it. I love this poem.

Please watch the video of this poem being recited perfectly. I got chills watching it!

That’s the glory of Victorian poetry. It was meant to be read aloud and enjoyed by the growing British middle classes as well as the aristocrats. They didn’t have Scandal or American Idol, but they had Kipling and “Gunga Din!”

Fyi, the name “Gunga Din” means “Spirit of the Ganges.”  So cool!  More chills!!

YOU may talk o’ gin an’ beer

When you’re quartered safe out ‘ere,

An’ you’re sent to penny-fights an’ Aldershot it;

But if 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 black-faced crew

The finest man I knew

Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din.

 

It was “Din! Din! Din!

You limping lump o’ brick-dust, Gunga Din!

Hi! slippy 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 twisty piece o’ 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 ‘ear the front-files shout:

“Hi! ammunition-mules an’ Gunga Din!”

 

I sha’n’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’ ‘e plugged me where I bled,

An’ ‘e guv me ‘arf-a-pint o’ water—green;

It was crawlin’ an’ 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; 65

‘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

In 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 pore damned souls,

An’ I’ll get a swig in Hell from Gunga Din!

 

Din! Din! Din!

You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!

Tho’ I’ve belted you an’ flayed you,

By the livin’ Gawd that made you,

You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

 

April Is National Poetry Month – T. S. Eliot’s “Choruses from The Rock”

The Dreaming Spires of Oxford

The Dreaming Spires of Oxford

It’s always some “month” or another, I guess…

But I do love poetry, especially great poetry, and I can’t keep myself from taking this opportunity to post a few of my favorites.

I’m not going to post them every day because April is too busy with beekeeping and gardening.  But I will sneak them in from time to time.

Here is a snippet from T.S. Eliot’s  Choruses from The Rock. I know it by heart. I hope you enjoy it too.

O Light Invisible, we praise Thee!
Too bright for mortal vision.

O Greater Light, we praise Thee for the less;
The eastern light our spires touch at morning,
The light that slants upon our western doors at evening,
The twilight over stagnant pools at batflight,
Moon light and star light, owl and moth light,
Glow-worm glowlight on a grassblade.
O Light Invisible, we worship Thee!

We thank Thee for the light that we have kindled,
The light of altar and of sanctuary;
Small lights of those who meditate at midnight
And lights directed through the coloured panes of windows
And light reflected from the polished stone,
The gilded carven wood, the coloured fresco.
Our gaze is submarine, our eyes look upward
And see the light that fractures through unquiet water.
We see the light but see not whence it comes.
O Light Invisible, we glorify Thee!

Girl History – Happy Birthday Edna St. Vincent Millay

Portrait of Edna St. Vincent Millay (1933-01-14)

Portrait of Edna St. Vincent Millay (1933-01-14) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Reprinted from The Writers Almanac

It’s the birthday of the woman who wrote “My candle burns at both ends;/ It will not last the night; / But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends — / It gives a lovely light!” Edna St. Vincent Millay, the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, was born on this day in 1892 in Rockland, Maine.

After being educated at Vassar, she moved to Greenwich Village and lived a Jazz Age Bohemian life, which revolved around poetry and love affairs. She was beautiful and alluring and many men and women fell in love with her. Critic Edmund Wilson asked her to marry him. She said no. He later reflected that falling in love with her “was so common an experience, so almost inevitable a consequence of knowing her in those days.”

She wrote: “Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand: / Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!”

Yeats’ Week – When You Are Old

This is one of my favorite Yeats’ poems. The sweet sadness of growing older…

When You Are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.