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Ashlar Home > Poems > Rudyard Kipling

The Poetic Works of Rudyard Kipling

The Palace

When I was a King and a Mason, a Master Proven and skilled,
I cleared me ground for a Palace, such as a King should build.
I decreed and dug down to my levels presently, under the silt,
I came on the wreck of a Palace, such as a King had built.

There was no worth in the fashion there was no wit in the plan
Hither and thither, aimless, the ruined footings ran.
Masonry, brute, mishandled, but carven on every stone,
After me cometh a Builder tell him I, too, have known.

Swift to my use in my trenches, where my well-planned groundworks grew,
I tumbled his quoins and his ashlars, and cut and rest them anew.
Lime I milled of his marbles burned it, slaked it, and spread
Taking and leaving at pleasure the gifts of the humble dead.

Yet I despised not nor gloried, yet, as we wrenched them apart,
I read in the razed foundation the heart of that Builder's heart.
As he has risen and pleaded, so did I understand
The form of the dream he had followed in the face of the thing he had planned.

When I was a King and a Mason, in the open noon of my pride,
They sent me a Word from the Darkness they whispered and called me aside.
They said, The end is forbidden. They said, Thy use is fulfilled.
Thy Palace shall stand as that other's, the spoil of a King who shall build.

I called my men from my trenches, my quarries, my wharves, and my sheers
All I had wrought I abandoned to the faith of the faithless years.
Only I cut on the timber only I carved on the stone:
After me cometh a Builder tell him I, too, have known.

The Thousandth Man

One man in a thousand, Solomon says,
Will stick more close than a brother.
And it's worth while seeking him half your days
If you find him before the other.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine depend
On what the world sees in you,
But the Thousandth man will stand your friend
With the whole round world agin' you.

'Tis neither promise nor prayer nor show
Will settle the finding for 'ee.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of 'em go
By your looks, or your acts, or your glory.
But if he finds you and you find him.
The rest of the world don't matter
For the Thousandth Man will sink or swim
With you in any water.

You can use his purse with no more talk
Than he uses yours for his spendings,
And laugh and meet in your daily walk
As though there had been no lendings.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of 'em call
For silver and gold in their dealings
But the Thousandth Man he's worth 'em all,
Because you can show him your feelings.

His wrong's your wrong, and his right's your right,
In season or out of season.
Stand up and back it in all men's sight
With that for your only reason!
Nine hundred and ninety-nine can't bide
The shame or mocking or laughter,
But the Thousandth Man will stand by your side
To the gallows-foot and after!

My New-Cut Ashlar

My New-Cut ashlar takes the light
Where crimson-blank the windows flare.
By my own work before the night,
Great Overseer, I make my prayer.

If there be good in that I wrought
Thy Hand compelled it, Master, Thine
Where I have failed to meet Thy Thought
I know, through Thee, the blame was mine.

The depth and dream of my desire,
The bitter paths wherein I stray
Thou knowest Who hast made the Fire,
Thou knowest Who hast made the Clay.

Who, lest all thought of Eden fade,
Bring'st Eden to the craftsman's brain
Godlike to muse o'er his own Trade
And manlike stand with God again!

One stone the more swings into place
In that dread Temple of Thy worth.
It is enough that, through Thy Grace,
I saw nought common on Thy Earth.

Take not that vision from my ken
Oh whatsoe'er may spoil or speed.
Help me to need no aid from men
That I may help such men as need!

Jubal and Tubal Cain

Jubal sang of the wrath of God
And the curse of thistle and thorn,
But Tubal got him a pointed rod
And scrambled the earth for corn.
Old old as that early mould,
Young as the sprouting grain
Yearly green is the strife between

Jubal and Tubal Cain!

Jubal sang of the new found sea,
And the love that its waves divide:
But Tubal hollowed a fallen tree
And passed to the farther side.
Black black as the hurricane wrack,
Salt as the under main
Bitter and cold is the hate they hold

Jubal and Tubal Cain!

Jubal sang of the golden years,
When wars and wounds shall cease
But Tubal fashioned the handflung spears
And showed his neighbors peace.
New new as the ninepointtwo,
Older than Lamech′s slain
Roaring and loud is the feud avowed, ′twixt

Jubal and Tubal Cain!

Jubal sang of the cliffs that bar
And the peaks that none may crown
But Tubal clambered by jut and scar,
And there he builded a town.
High high as the snowsheds lie,
Low as the culverts drain
Wherever they be, they can never agree

Jubal and Tubal Cain!

The Mother-Lodge

There was Rundle, Station Master,
An' Beazeley of the Rail,
An' 'Ackman, Commissariat,
An' Donkin' o' the Jail
An' Blake, Conductor-Sargent,
Our Master twice was 'e,
With 'im that kept the Europe-shop,
Old Framjee Eduljee.

Outside Sergeant! Sir! Salute! Salaam!
Inside Brother, an' it doesn't do no 'arm.
We met upon the Level an' we parted on the Square,
An' I was Junior Deacon in my Mother-Lodge out there!

We'd Bola Nath, Accountant,
An' Saul the Aden Jew,
An' Din Mohammed, draughtsman
Of the Survey Office too
There was Babu Chuckerbutty,
An' Amir Singh the Sikh,
An' Castro from the fittin'-sheds,
The Roman Catholick!

We 'adn't good regalia,
An' our Lodge was old an' bare,
But we knew the Ancient Landmarks,
An' we kep' 'em to a hair
An' lookin' on it backwards
It often strikes me thus,
There ain't such things as infidels,
Excep', per'aps, it's us.

For monthly, after Labour,
We'd all sit down and smoke
(We dursn't give no banquits,
Lest a Brother's caste were broke),
An' man on man got talkin'
Religion an' the rest,
An' every man comparin'
Of the God 'e knew the best.

So man on man got talkin',
An' not a Brother stirred
Till mornin' waked the parrots
An' that dam' brain-fever-bird
We'd say 'twas 'ighly curious,
An' we'd all ride 'ome to bed,
With Mo'ammed, God, an' Shiva
Changin' pickets in our 'ead.

Full oft on Guv'ment service
This rovin' foot 'ath pressed,
An' bore fraternal greetin's
To the Lodges east an' west,
Accordin' as commanded
From Kohat to Singapore,
But I wish that I might see them
In my Mother-Lodge once more!

I wish that I might see them,
My Brethren black an' brown,
With the trichies smellin' pleasant
An' the hog-darn passin' down
An' the old khansamah snorin'
On the bottle-khana floor,
Like a Master in good standing
With my Mother-Lodge once more!

Outside Sergeant! Sir! Salute! Salaam!
Inside Brother, an' it doesn't do no 'arm.
We met upon the Level an' we parted on the Square,
An' I was Junior Deacon in my Mother-Lodge out there!

Banquet Night

Once in so often, King Salomon said,
Watching his quarrymen drill the stone,
We will club our garlic and wine and bread,
And banquet together beneath my Throne.
And all the Brethren shall come to that mess
As Fellow-Craftsmen-no more and no less.

Send a swift shallop to Hiram of Tyre,
Felling and floating our beautifull trees,
Say that the Brethren and I desire
Talk with our Brethren who use the seas.
And we shall be happy to meet them at mess
As Fellow-Craftsmen- no more and no less.

Carry this massage to Hiram Abif-
Excellent Master of forge and mine:-
I and the Brethren would like it if
He and the Brethren will come to dine
(Garments from Bozrah or morning-dress)
As Fellow-Craftsmen- no more and no less.

God gave the Hyssop and Cedar their place-
Also the Bramble, the Fig and the Thorn-
But that is no reason to black a man's face
Because he is not what he hasn't been born.
And, as touching the Temple, I hold and profess
We are Fellow-Craftsmen-no more and no less.

So it was ordered and so it was done,
And the hewers of wood and the Masons of Mark,
With foc'sle hands of the Sidon run
And Navy Lords from the Royal Ark,
Came and sat down and were merry at mess
As Fellow-Craftsmen- no more and no less.

The Quarries are hotter than Hiram's forge,
No one is safe from the dog-whip's reach,
It's mostly snowing up Lebanon's gorge,
And it's always blowing off Joppa beach
But once in so often, the messanger brings
Solomon's mandate:Forget these things!
Brother to Beggars and Fellow to Kings,
Companion of Princes-forget these things!
Fellow-Craftman, forget these things!

If

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn out tools

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: Hold on !

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you
If all men count with you, but none too much
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

A Pilgrim's Way

I do not look for holy saints to guide me on my way,
Or male and female devilkins to lead my feet astray.
If these are added, I rejoice-if not, I shall not mind,
So long as I have leave and choice to meet my fellow-kind.
For as we come and as we go (and deadly-soon go we!)
The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

Thus I will honour pious men whose virtue shines so bright
(Though none are more amazed than I when I by chance do right),
And I will pity foolish men for woe their sins have bred
(Though ninety-nine per cent. of mine I brought on my own head).
And, Amorite or Eremite, or General Averagee,
The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

And when they bore me overmuch, I will not shake mine ears,
Recalling many thousand such whom I have bored to tears.
And when they labour to impress, I will not doubt nor scoff
Since I myself have done no less and-sometimes pulled it off.
Yea, as we are and we are not, and we pretend to be,
The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

And when they work me random wrong, as oftentimes hath been,
I will not cherish hate too long (my hands are none too clean).
And when they do me random good I will not feign surprise.
No more than those whom I have cheered with wayside charities.
But, as we give and as we take-whate'er our takings be-
The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

But when I meet with frantic folk who sinfully declare
There is no pardon for their sin, the same I will not spare
Till I have proved that Heaven and Hell which in our hearts we have
Show nothing irredeemable on either side of the grave.
For as we live and as we die-if utter Death there be-
The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!

Deliver me from every pride-the Middle, High, and Low-
That bars me from a brother's side, whatever pride he show.
And purge me from all heresies of thought and speech and pen
That bid me judge him otherwise than I am judged. Amen!
That I may sing of Crowd or King or road-borne company,
That I may labour in my day, vocation and degree,
To prove the same in deed and name, and hold unshakenly
(Where'er I go, whate'er I know, whoe'er my neighbor be)
This single faith in Life and Death and to Eternity:
``The people, Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me!''
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