Rudyard Kipling

(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936 / Bombay)

The Dove of Dacca


The freed dove flew to the Rajah's tower—
Fled from the slaughter of Moslem kings—
And the thorns have covered the city of Gaur.
Dove—dove—oh, homing dove!
Little white traitor, with woe on thy wings!

The Rajah of Dacca rode under the wall;
He set in his bosom a dove of flight—
`If she return, be sure that I fall."
Dove—dove—oh, homing dove!
Pressed to his heart in the thick of the fight.

"Fire the palace, the fort, and the keep—
Leave to the foeman no spoil at all.
In the flame of the palace lie down and sleep
If the dove—if the dove—if the homing dove
Come, and alone, to the palace wall."

The Kings of the North they were scattered abroad—
The Rajah of Dacca he slew them all.
Hot from slaughter he stooped at the ford,
And the dove—the dove—oh, the homing dove!
She thought of her cote on the palace-wall.

She opened her wings and she flew away—
Fluttered away beyond recall;
She came to the palace at break of day.
Dove—dove—oh, homing dove,
Flying so fast for a kingdom's fall!

The Queens of Dacca they slept in flame—
Slept in the flame of the palace old—
To save their honour from Moslem shame.
And the dove—the dove—oh, the homing dove,
She cooed to her young where the smoke-cloud rolled!

The Rajah of Dacca rode far and fleet,
Followed as fast as a horse could fly,
He came and the palace was black at his feet;
And the dove—the dove—the homing dove,
Circled alone in the stainless sky.

So the dove flew to the Rajah's tower—
Fled from the slaughter of Moslem kings;
So the thorns covered the city of Gaur,
And Dacca was lost for a white dove's wings.
Dove—dove—oh, homing dove,
Dacca is lost from the Roll of the Kings!

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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