Rudyard Kipling

Posted: January 30, 2016 in Chat
Tags:

CHANT PAGAN

of an English Irregular, Discharged

 

Me that ‘ave been what I’ve been —
Me that ‘ave gone where I’ve gone —
Me that ‘ave seen what I’ve seen —
‘Ow can I ever take on
With awful old England again,
An’ ‘ouses both sides of the street,
And ‘edges two sides of the lane,
And the parson an’ gentry between,
An’ touchin’ my ‘at when we meet —
Me that ‘ave been what I’ve been?

Me that ‘ave watched ‘arf a world
‘Eave up all shiny with dew,
Kopje on kop to the sun,
An’ as soon as the mist let ’em through
Our ‘elios winkin’ like fun —
Three sides of a ninety-mile square,
Over valleys as big as a shire —
“Are ye there? Are ye there? Are ye there?”
An’ then the blind drum of our fire . . .
An’ I’m rollin’ ‘is lawns for the Squire,

Me!

Me that ‘ave rode through the dark
Forty mile, often, on end,
Along the Ma’ollisberg Range,
With only the stars for my mark
An’ only the night for my friend,
An’ things runnin’ off as you pass,
An’ things jumpin’ up in the grass,
An’ the silence, the shine an’ the size
Of the ‘igh, unexpressible skies —
I am takin’ some letters almost
As much as a mile to the post,
An’ “mind you come back with the change!”

Me!

Me that saw Barberton took
When we dropped through the clouds on their ‘ead,
An’ they ‘ove the guns over and fled —
Me that was through Di’mond ‘Ill,
An’ Pieters an’ Springs an’ Belfast —
From Dundee to Vereeniging all —
Me that stuck out to the last
(An’ five bloomin’ bars on my chest) —
I am doin’ my Sunday-school best,
By the ‘elp of the Squire an’ ‘is wife
(Not to mention the ‘ousemaid an’ cook),
To come in an’ ‘ands up an’ be still,
An’ honestly work for my bread,
My livin’ in that state of life
To which it shall please God to call

Me!

Me that ‘ave followed my trade
In the place where the Lightnin’s are made;
‘Twixt the Rains and the Sun and the Moon —
Me that lay down an’ got up
Three years with the sky for my roof —
That ‘ave ridden my ‘unger an’ thirst
Six thousand raw mile on the hoof,
With the Vaal and the Orange for cup,
An’ the Brandwater Basin for dish, —
Oh! it’s ‘ard to be’ave as they wish
(Too ‘ard, an’ a little too soon),
I’ll ‘ave to think over it first —

Me!

I will arise an’ get ‘ence —
I will trek South and make sure
If it’s only my fancy or not
That the sunshine of England is pale,
And the breezes of England are stale,
An’ there’s something’ gone small with the lot.
For I know of a sun an’ a wind,
An’ some plains and a mountain be’ind,
An’ some graves by a barb-wire fence,
An’ a Dutchman I’ve fought ‘oo might give
Me a job where I ever inclined
To look in an’ offsaddle an’ live
Where there’s neither a road nor a tree —
But only my Maker an’ me,
And I think it will kill me or cure,
So I think I will go there an’ see.

This a poem that sticks, with me. I’m no fan of his… I was going to say ‘his writing’, but is it that? Should it be, instead ‘of the man’? But I’m sure he had great personal qualities. We must always distinguish the stance from the man.

Whatever you think of Kipling, he was a complex man. For all his war-fever, gingoism, his world crashed when his own son was killed in WW1.

Whatever you think… there is no disguising the heartfelt resentment boiling in this poem. Its criticism of England you would not think he could write: the littleness, staleness; in-turned, cut-off, spiteful- all Brexit (Britain’s Exit from Europe) supporters take note!
The criticisms are just as relevant today. People may no longer be crushed between the Parson and the Squire, but the drag-back, power of inertia is still very much there.

Also see: http://interestingliterature.com/2016/01/18/five-fascinating-facts-about-rudyard-kipling/

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s