Sunday, December 30, 2012

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 the delightful 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, 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.

Here's another:

Eddi's Service
AD 687

Eddi, priest of St. Wilfrid
     In his chapel at Manhood End,
Ordered a midnight service
     For such as cared to attend.

But the Saxons were keeping Christmas,
     And the night was stormy as well.
Nobody came to service,
     Though Eddi rang the bell.

"'Wicked weather for walking,"
     Said Eddi of Manhood End.
"But I must go on with the service
     For such as care to attend."

The altar-lamps were lighted, --
     An old marsh-donkey came,
Bold as a guest invited,
     And stared at the guttering flame.

The storm beat on at the windows,
     The water splashed on the floor,
And a wet, yoke-weary bullock
     Pushed in through the open door.

"How do I know what is greatest,
     How do I know what is least?
That is My Father's business,"
     Said Eddi, Wilfrid's priest.

"But -- three are gathered together --
     Listen to me and attend.
I bring good news, my brethren!"
     Said Eddi of Manhood End.

And he told the Ox of a Manger
     And a Stall in Bethlehem,
And he spoke to the Ass of a Rider,
     That rode to Jerusalem.

They steamed and dripped in the chancel,
     They listened and never stirred,
While, just as though they were Bishops,
     Eddi preached them The World,

Till the gale blew off on the marshes
     And the windows showed the day,
And the Ox and the Ass together
     Wheeled and clattered away.

And when the Saxons mocked him,
     Said Eddi of Manhood End,
"I dare not shut His chapel
    On such as care to attend."

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