Kipling Stories and Poems Every Child Should Know Part 24

VI

THE SONG OF THE WOMEN

(_Lady Dufferin's Fund for medical Aid to the Women of India_).

How shall she know the worship we would do her?

The walls are high, and she is very far.

How shall the women's message reach unto her Above the tumult of the packed bazaar?

Free wind of March, against the lattice blowing, Bear thou our thanks, lest she depart unknowing.

Go forth across the fields we may not roam in, Go forth beyond the trees that rim the city, To whatsoe'er fair place she hath her home in, Who dowered us with wealth of love and pity.

Out of our shadow pa.s.s, and seek her singing-- "I have no gifts but Love alone for bringing."

Say that we be a feeble folk who greet her, But old in grief, and very wise in tears; Say that we, being desolate, entreat her That she forget us not in after years; For we have seen the light, and it were grievous To dim that dawning if our lady leave us.

By life that ebbed with none to stanch the failing, By love's sad harvest garnered in the spring, When Love in ignorance wept unavailing O'er young buds dead before their blossoming; By all the gray owl watched, the pale moon viewed, In past grim years, declare our grat.i.tude!

By hands uplifted to the G.o.ds that heard not, By gifts that found no favour in their sight, By faces bent above the babe that stirred not, By nameless horrors of the stifling night; By ills foredone, by peace her toils discover, Bid Earth be good beneath and Heaven above her!

If she have sent her servants in our pain, If she have fought with Death and dulled his sword; If she have given back our sick again, And to the breast the weakling lips restored, Is it a little thing that she has wrought?

Then Life and Death and Motherhood be naught.

Go forth, oh, wind, our message on thy wings, And they shall hear thee pa.s.s and bid thee speed, In red-roofed hut, or white-walled home of kings, Who have been helped by her in their need.

All spring shall give thee fragrance, and the wheat Shall be a ta.s.selled floor-cloth to thy feet.

Haste, for our hearts are with thee, take no rest, Loud-voiced amba.s.sador, from sea to sea Proclaim the blessing, manifold, confest, Of those in darkness by her hand set free; Then very softly to her presence move, And whisper: "Lady, lo, they know and love!"

VII

THE WHITE MAN'S BURDEN

1899

Take up the White Man's burden-- Send forth the best ye breed-- Go bind your sons to exile To serve your captives' need; To wait in heavy harness, On fluttered folk and wild-- Your new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half child.

Take up the White Man's burden-- In patience to abide, To veil the threat of terror And check the show of pride; By open speech and simple, An hundred times made plain, To seek another's profit, And work another's gain.

Take up the White Man's burden-- The savage wars of peace-- Fill full the mouth of Famine And bid the sickness cease; And when your goal is nearest The end for others sought, Watch Sloth and heathen Folly Bring all your hope to naught.

Take up the White Man's burden-- No tawdry rule of kings, But toil of serf and sweeper-- The tale of common things.

The ports ye shall not enter, The roads ye shall not tread, Go make them with your living, And mark them with your dead.

Take up the White Man's burden-- And reap his old reward; The blame of those ye better, The hate of those ye guard-- The cry of hosts ye humour (Ah, slowly!) toward the light:-- "Why brought ye us from bondage, Our loved Egyptian night?"

Take up the White Man's burden-- Ye dare not stoop to less-- Nor call too loud on Freedom To cloak your weariness; By all ye cry or whisper, By all ye leave or do, The silent, sullen peoples Shall weigh your G.o.ds and you.

Take up the White Man's burden-- Have done with childish days-- The lightly proffered laurel The easy, ungrudged praise.

Comes now, to search your manhood Through all the thankless years, Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom, The judgment of your peers!

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