Rudyard Kipling

(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936 / Bombay)

The Light That Failed


So we settled it all when the storm was done
As comfy as comfy could be;
And I was to wait in the barn, my dears,
Because I was only three.
And Teddy would run to the rainbow's foot
Because he was five and a man--
And that's how it all began, my dears,
And that's how it all began!

Then we brought the lances down--then the trumpets blew--
When we went to Kandahar, ridin' two an' two.
Ridin'--ridin'--ridin' two an' two!
Ta-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-a!
All the way to Kandahar,
Ridin' two an' two.

The wolf-cub at even lay hid in the corn,
When the smoke of the cooking hung grey.
He knew where the doe made a couch for her fawn,
And he looked to his strength for his prey.
But the moon swept the smoke-wreaths away;
And he turned from his meal in the villager's close,
And he bayed to the moon as she rose.

"I have a thousand men," said he,
"To wait upon my will;
And towers nine upon the Tyne,
And three upon the Till."

"And what care I for your men? " said she,
"Or towers from Tyne to Till?
Sith you must go with me," said she,
"To wait upon my will.

And you may lead a thousand men
Nor ever draw the rein,
But before you lead the Fairy Queen
'Twill burst your heart in twain."

He has slipped his foot from the stirrup-bar,
The bridle from his hand,
And he is bound by hand and foot
To the Queen of Fairy Land.

"If I have taken the common clay
And wrought it cunningly
In the shape of a God that was digged a clod,
The greater honour to me."

"If thou hast taken the common clay,
And thy hands be not free
From the taint of the soil, thou hast made thy spoil
The greater shame to thee."

The lark will make her hymn to God,
The partridge call her brood,
While I forget the heath I trod,
The fields wherein I stood.

'Tis dule to know not night from morn,
But greater dule to know
I can but hear the hunter's horn
That once I used to blow.

There were three friends that buried the fourth,
The mould in his mouth and the dust in his eyes,
And they .went south and east and north--
The strong man fights but the sick man dies.

There were three friends that spoke of the dead--
The strong man fights but the sick man dies--
"And would he were here with us now," they said,
"The Sun in our face and the wind in our eyes."

Yet at the last ere our spearmen had found him,
Yet at the last, ere a sword-thrust could save,
Yet at the last, with his masters around him,
He spoke of the Faith as a master to slave.
Yet at the last though the Kafirs had maimed him,
Broken by bondage and wrecked by the reiver,
Yet at the last, tho' the darkness had claimed him,
He colled on Allah and died a Believer!

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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