Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy Birthday, Rudyard!

Today, in Bombay in 1865, Rudyard Kipling was born. His parents sent him "back" to England to avoid the typhoid and cholera, and he used his school experiences in several of his works, the horrifying 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' and Stalky and Co. particularly. After school he went back to India and became a reporter, writing fiction and poetry in his spare time. Celebrity came after six years of work was gathered up and sold in collected editions and he returned to England. But he didn't like living there, and after a few years spent traveling the world, he settled in Vermont - and it was there he wrote The Jungle Book, probably his most well-known work.
    Chapter Heading from In the Pride of His Youth
"Stopped in the straight when the race was his own!
Look at him cutting it -- cur to the bone!"
Ask ere the youngster be rated and chidden
What did he carry and how was he ridden?
Maybe they used him too much at the start.
Maybe Fate's weight-cloth was breaking his heart.

The Way Through the Woods
    from "Marlake Witches" Rewards and Fairies
They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.
Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate,
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few.)
You will hear the beat of a horse's feet
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods ...
But there is no road through the woods.

The Sea and The Hills

Who hath desired the Sea?—the sight of salt water unbounded—
The heave and the halt and the hurl and the crash of the comber wind-hounded?
The sleek-barrelled swell before storm, grey, foamless, enormous, and growing—
Stark calm on the lap of the Line or the crazy-eyed hurricane blowing—
His Sea in no showing the same—his Sea and the same 'neath each showing:
His Sea as she slackens or thrills?
So and no otherwise—so and no otherwise—hillmen desire their Hills!

Who hath desired the Sea?—the immense and contemptuous surges?
The shudder, the stumble, the swerve, as the star-stabbing bow-sprit emerges?
The orderly clouds of the Trades, the ridged, roaring sapphire thereunder —
Unheralded cliff-haunting flaws and the headsail's low-volleying thunder—
His Sea in no wonder the same—his Sea and the same through each wonder:
His Sea as she rages or stills?
So and no otherwise—so and no otherwise—hillmen desire their Hills.

Who hath desired the Sea? Her menaces swift as her mercies?
The in-rolling walls of the fog and the silver-winged breeze that disperses?
The unstable mined berg going South and the calvings and groans that declare it—
White water half-guessed overside and the moon breaking timely to bare it—
His Sea as his fathers have dared—his Sea as his children shall dare it:
His Sea as she serves him or kills?
So and no otherwise—so and no otherwise—hillmen desire their Hills.

Who hath desired the Sea? Her excellent loneliness rather
Than forecourts of kings, and her outermost pits than the streets where men gather
Inland, among dust, under trees—inland where the slayer may slay him—
Inland, out of reach of her arms, and the bosom whereon he must lay him
His Sea from the first that betrayed—at the last that shall never betray him:
His Sea that his being fulfils?
So and no otherwise—so and no otherwise—hillmen desire their Hills.

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