The Kiplings and India: A Collection of Writings from British India, 1870-1900

A Vision of India (Rudyard Kipling)


Mother India, wan and thin,
   Here is forage come your way,
Take the young Civilian in,
   Slay him swiftly as you may.

Smite him with the deadly breath
   From they crowded cities sped;
Still the heart that beats beneath
   That girl's picture o'er his bed.

Brains that thought and lips that kissed,
   Mouldering under alien clay,
Stir a stagnant Civil List,
   Help us on our upward way.

Ice the amber whisky peg!
   Every man that yields to thee
Gives his juniors each a leg,
   Shakes the sere Pagoda Tree

Well indeed we know thy power,
   Goddess of our deep devotion,
Who canst grant us in an hour
   Step of rapidest promotion.

Lurking in our daily grub, 
   Where the untinted degchies lie;
Smiting gaily at the Club,
   O'er the card-room's revelry.

Chaperon to many a maid, 
   Calling, when the music dies,
To a stiller, deeper shade
   Than the dim-lit balconies.

(Fill the long-necked glass with whisky!
   Every man that owns thy sway
Leaves a widow, mostly frisky,
   Makes the gossip of a day.)

Brown and Jones and Smith shall die;
   We succeed to all their places,
Bear the badge of slavery,
   Sunken eyes and pallid faces.

Laughter that is worse than tears
   Is our portion in the land,
And the tombstones of our peers
   Make the steps whereon we stand. 

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