Rudyard Kipling

(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936 / Bombay)

What the People Said


By the well, where the bullocks go
Silent and blind and slow --
By the field where the young corn dies
In the face of the sultry skies,
They have heard, as the dull Earth hears
The voice of the wind of an hour,
The sound of the Great Queen's voice:
"My God hath given me years,
Hath granted dominion and power:
And I bid you, O Land, rejoice."

And the ploughman settles the share
More deep in the grudging clod;
For he saith: "The wheat is my care,
And the rest is the will of God.
He sent the Mahratta spear
As He sendeth the rain,
And the Mlech, in the fated year,
Broke the spear in twain.
And was broken in turn. Who knows
How our Lords make strife?
It is good that the young wheat grows,
For the bread is Life."

Then, far and near, as the twilight drew,
Hissed up to the scornful dark
Great serpents, blazing, of red and blue,
That rose and faded, and rose anew.
That the Land might wonder and mark
"To-day is a day of days," they said,
"Make merry, O People, all!"
And the Ploughman listened and bowed his head:
"To-day and to-morrow God's will," he said,
As he trimmed the lamps on the wall.

"He sendeth us years that are good,
As He sendeth the dearth,
He giveth to each man his food,
Or Her food to the Earth.
Our Kings and our Queens are afar --
On their peoples be peace --
God bringeth the rain to the Bar,
That our cattle increase."

And the Ploughman settled the share
More deep in the sun-dried clod:
"Mogul Mahratta, and Mlech from the North,
And White Queen over the Seas --
God raiseth them up and driveth them forth
As the dust of the ploughshare flies in the breeze;
But the wheat and the cattle are all my care,
And the rest is the will of God."

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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