Rudyard Kipling

(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936 / Bombay)

Municipal - Poem by Rudyard Kipling

"Why is my District death-rate low?"
Said Binks of Hezabad.
"Well, drains, and sewage-outfalls are
"My own peculiar fad.
"I learnt a lesson once, It ran
"Thus," quoth that most veracious man: --



It was an August evening and, in snowy garments clad,
I paid a round of visits in the lines of Hezabad;
When, presently, my Waler saw, and did not like at all,
A Commissariat elephant careering down the Mall.

I couldn't see he driver, and across my mind it rushed
That that Commissariat elephant had suddenly gone musth.
I didn't care to meet him, and I couldn't well get down,
So I let the Waler have it, and we headed for the town.

The buggy was a new one and, praise Dykes, it stood the strain,
Till he Waler jumped a bullock just above the City Drain;
And the next that I remember was a hurricane of squeals,
And the creature making toothpicks of my five-foot patent wheels.

He seemed to want the owner, so I fled, distraught with fear,
To the Main Drain sewage-outfall while he snorted in my ear --
Reached the four-foot drain-head safely and, in darkness and despair,
Felt the brute's proboscis fingering my terror-stiffened hair.

Heard it trumpet on my shoulder -- tried to crawl a little higher --
Found the Main Drain sewage outfall blocked, some eight feet up, with mire;
And, for twenty reeking minutes, Sir, my very marrow froze,
While the trunk was feeling blindly for a purchase on my toes!

It missed me by a fraction, but my hair was turning grey
Before they called the drivers up and dragged the brute away.
Then I sought the City Elders, and my words were very plain.
They flushed that four-foot drain-head and -- it never choked again!

You may hold with surface-drainage, and the sun-for-garbage cure,
Till you've been a periwinkle shrinking coyly up a sewer.
I believe in well-flushed culverts. . . .
This is why the death-rate's small;
And, if you don't believe me, get shikarred yourself. That's all.


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Read poems about / on: august, city, believe, hair, despair, death, remember, fear, sun, running



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003



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