Rudyard Kipling (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936 / Bombay)
Ay, lay him 'neath the Simla pine --
A fortnight fully to be missed,
Behold, we lose our fourth at whist,
A chair is vacant where we dine.
His place forgets him; other men
Have bought his ponies, guns, and traps.
His fortune is the Great Perhaps
And that cool rest-house down the glen,
Whence he shall hear, as spirits may,
Our mundance revel on the height,
Shall watch each flashing 'rickshaw-light
Sweep on to dinner, dance, and play.
Benmore shall woo him to the ball
With lighted rooms and braying band;
And he shall hear and understand
"Dream Faces" better than us all.
For, think you, as the vapours flee
Across Sanjaolie after rain,
His soul may climb the hill again
To each of field of victory.
Unseen, who women held so dear,
The strong man's yearning to his kind
Shall shake at most the window-blind,
Or dull awhile the card-room's cheer.
In his own place of power unkown,
His Light o' Love another's flame,
And he and alien and alone!
Yet may he meet with many a friend --
Shrewd shadows, lingering long unseen
Among us when "God save the Queen"
Shows even "extras" have an end.
And, when we leave the heated room,
And, when at four the lights expire,
The crew shall gather round the fire
And mock our laughter in the gloom;
Talk as we talked, and they ere death --
Flirt wanly, dance in ghostly-wise,
With ghosts of tunes for melodies,
And vanish at the morning's breath.
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