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

The Man Who Could Write (Rudyard Kipling)


Shun--shun the Bowl! That fatal, facile drink
  Has ruined many geese who dipped their quills in't;
Bribe, murder, marry, but steer clear of Ink
  Save when you write receipts for paid-up bills in't.
There may be silver in the "blue-black"--all
I know of is the iron and the gall.

Boanerges Blitzen, servant of the Queen,
Is a dismal failure--is a Might-have-been.
In a luckless moment he discovered men
Rise to high position through a ready pen.

Boanerges Blitzen argued therefore--"I,
With the selfsame weapon, can attain as high."
Only he did not possess when he made the trial,
Wicked wit of C-lv-n, irony of L--l.

[Men who spar with Government need, to back their blows,
Something more than ordinary journalistic prose.]

Never young Civilian's prospects were so bright,
Till an Indian paper found that he could write:
Never young Civilian's prospects were so dark,
When the wretched Blitzen wrote to make his mark.

Certainly he scored it, bold, and black, and firm,
In that Indian paper--made his seniors squirm,
Quoted office scandals, wrote the tactless truth--
Was there ever known a more misguided youth?

When the Rag he wrote for praised his plucky game,
Boanerges Blitzen felt that this was Fame;
When the men he wrote of shook their heads and swore,
Boanerges Blitzen only wrote the more:

Posed as Young Ithuriel, resolute and grim,
Till he found promotion didn't come to him;
Till he found that reprimands weekly were his lot,
And his many districts curiously hot.

Till he found his furlough strangely hard to win,
Boanerges Blitzen didn't care to pin:
Then it seemed to dawn on him something wasn't right--
Boanerges Blitzen put it down to "spite";

Languished in a district desolate and dry;
Watched the Local Government yearly pass him by;
Wondered where the hitch was; called it most unfair.

     *     *     *     *

That was seven years ago--and he still is there.

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