Rudyard Kipling

(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936 / Bombay)

The Puzzler


The Celt in all his variants from Builth to Ballyhoo,
His mental processes are plain--one knows what he will do,
And can logically predicate his finish by his start;
But the English--ah, the English!--they are quite a race apart.

Their psychology is bovine, their outlook crude and raw.
They abandon vital matters to be tickled with a straw;
But the straw that they were tickled with-the chaff that they were fed with--
They convert into a weaver's beam to break their foeman's head with.

For undemocratic reasons and for motives not of State,
They arrive at their conclusions--largely inarticulate.
Being void of self-expression they confide their views to none;
But sometimes in a smoking-room, one learns why things were done.

Yes, sometimes in a smoking-room, through clouds of "Ers" an "Ums,"
Obliquely and by inference, illumination comes,
On some step that they have taken, or some action they approve
Embellished with the argot of the Upper Fourth Remove.

In telegraphic sentences half nodded to their friends,
They hint a matter's inwardness--and there the matter ends.
And while the Celt is talking from Valencia to Kirkwall,
The English--ah, the English!--don't say anything at all.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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