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

Himalayan (Rudyard Kipling)


Now the land is ringed with a circle of fire,
      Burnt with the fire and dead with drought,
And the bare, brown fields hold the heat of hell—
   Wherefore I tell you, once and for all,
      Fly with the speed of a hot desire;
      Fly from the land that is parched and dead,
   To Simla or Murree or Naini Tal,
   With a limber lunkah I thrust in your mouth,
       And a solah topee to guard your head,
       And a tat beneath you can trust to "ehel "?

For the hills look down on the burnt plains under,
   And the great green mountains are good to see—
   Fair to behold and sweet to gain—
   They are capped with the snow and cooled with the rain,
   Cooled with the tears of the wailing thunder.
      Wherefore, I tell you, mount and ride,
   Till the spurs are red and the whip-hand tires,
   And the saddle is broken across the tree—
      Till your spurs are red in your horse's side—
Fly from the heat of our summer fires !
The sky is lead and our faces are red,
   And the winds of Hell are loosened and driven,
   And the gates of Hell are opened and riven,
   And the dust flies up in the face of Heaven,
And the clouds come down in a fiery sheet,
      Heavy to raise and hard to be borne.
   And the mind of man is turned from his meat—
Turned from the trifles for which he has striven.
   Sick in his body, and heavy-hearted;
   And his soul flies up like the dust in the street—
   Flies from his flesh and is gone and departed,
      As the blast that they blow on the cholera-horn.
Wherefore, I say, while life remains,
While the knees can grip and the right hand flog,
   Fly with the speed of a parted lover,
   From the heated heavens that cloak and cover
The burning heat of the bare, brown plains.
   Flee to the mountains, once and for all—
To the calm, cool rains and the drifting fog
   To the rains that cool and the clouds that hover
O'er Simla, Murree, or Naini Tal!


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