A Code Of Morals Poem by Rudyard Kipling

A Code Of Morals

Rating: 3.0


Now Jones had left his new-wed bride to keep his house in order,
And hied away to the Hurrum Hills above the Afghan border,
To sit on a rock with a heliograph; but ere he left he taught
His wife the working of the Code that sets the miles at naught.

And Love had made him very sage, as Nature made her fair;
So Cupid and Apollo linked , per heliograph, the pair.
At dawn, across the Hurrum Hills, he flashed her counsel wise --
At e'en, the dying sunset bore her busband's homilies.

He warned her 'gainst seductive youths in scarlet clad and gold,
As much as 'gainst the blandishments paternal of the old;
But kept his gravest warnings for (hereby the ditty hangs)
That snowy-haired Lothario, Lieutenant-General Bangs.

'Twas General Bangs, with Aide and Staff, who tittupped on the way,
When they beheld a heliograph tempestuously at play.
They thought of Border risings, and of stations sacked and burnt --
So stopped to take the message down -- and this is whay they learnt --

"Dash dot dot, dot, dot dash, dot dash dot" twice. The General swore.
"Was ever General Officer addressed as 'dear' before?
"'My Love,' i' faith! 'My Duck,' Gadzooks! 'My darling popsy-wop!'
"Spirit of great Lord Wolseley, who is on that mountaintop?"

The artless Aide-de-camp was mute; the gilded Staff were still,
As, dumb with pent-up mirth, they booked that message from the hill;
For clear as summer lightning-flare, the husband's warning ran: --
"Don't dance or ride with General Bangs -- a most immoral man."

[At dawn, across the Hurrum Hills, he flashed her counsel wise --
But, howsoever Love be blind, the world at large hath eyes.]
With damnatory dot and dash he heliographed his wife
Some interesting details of the General's private life.

The artless Aide-de-camp was mute, the shining Staff were still,
And red and ever redder grew the General's shaven gill.
And this is what he said at last (his feelings matter not): --
"I think we've tapped a private line. Hi! Threes about there! Trot!"

All honour unto Bangs, for ne'er did Jones thereafter know
By word or act official who read off that helio.
But the tale is on the Frontier, and from Michni to Mooltan
They know the worthy General as "that most immoral man."

COMMENTS OF THE POEM
Mark Schulte 07 June 2009

I agree with those who see this simply as a funny personal snafu that is being described by Kipling. But is also has a good natured cautionary message for modern ears as well and that is: be careful what you put on the internet - Facebook or otherwise - because the 'world at large hath eyes'.

11 2 Reply
Pat Bailey 13 July 2009

Yes, Britain in the Victorian era was Jingoistic with a capital J. So what? That was 'political correctness' back then. Don't expect words on a page to magically change with the times in order to remain 'PC' as defined by 21st century thinking. We hear the same thing about Samuel Clemens' works. I can imagine Huck Finn referring to his friend as 'African-American Jim', or 'Jim of color'. Why not appreciate literature for literature's sake instead of trying to updat it to reflect the mores of today? Mark: excellent point about 'the world at large' having (hathing?) eyes.

9 4 Reply
Douglas Scotney 05 June 2013

By dash and deft I was left With mirth and admiration

7 5 Reply

The poem is written to be fun and entertaining! Whatever it meant with regard to military matters of the day will be documented in various sources. There is an unwritten code for pranks in the military and what some soldiers have dared makes incredible reading! German soldiers even dared to try to kill Hitler more than a dozen times but of course he had the luck of the devil! Rudyard Kipling told stories people never grew tired of. A man who has stood the test of time.

7 4 Reply
Brian Jani 28 April 2014

You surely know how to wrote, I like each and every poem of yours

4 7 Reply
Dr Antony Theodore 14 December 2020

And Love had made him very sage, as Nature made her fair; So Cupid and Apollo linked, per heliograph, the pair. At dawn, across the Hurrum Hills, he flashed her counsel wise - At e'en, the dying sunset bore her busband's homilies. A very fine poem. tony

1 0 Reply
Britte Ninad 09 August 2018

read, read, read and read thousands time the great Rudyard Kipling

5 0 Reply
Kiran Pillai 30 May 2018

That was a little tense though. So thankful for internet now.

2 0 Reply
Seamus O Brian 09 December 2016

Kipling's works showcase a genius for rhyme and meter that so effortlessly accentuate the colorful tales he tells. I will always consider him one of the finest architects of rhyming poetry.

6 2 Reply
Madhabi Banerjee 08 November 2016

nice and an interesting poem

1 3 Reply
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