Gunga Din and Other Favorite Poems

Gunga Din and Other Favorite Poems

by Rudyard Kipling


View All Available Formats & Editions


In such poems as "Gunga Din," "Mandalay," "Tommy," "Danny Deever," "If —," "The White Man's Burden," and "The Female of the Species," Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936) evoked stirring images and created archetypes of British character at the height of the Empire. Filled with character study, dramatic incident, and rousing language, the poems delineate the time, place, and ethos of British ascendancy as surely as a novel or history of the period, yet they possess a timelessness and universality that lifts them above the purely temporal.
Readers will find in this choice selection of 44 poems, reprinted from authoritative editions, not only a glimpse of the Empire, but the works of a vigorous and original poet who brought the language apt and colorful turns of phrase we still cherish.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486264714
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 07/01/1990
Series: Dover Thrift Editions Series
Pages: 80
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.23(h) x 0.24(d)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

Nobel Laureate Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936) is best remembered for children's tales such as The Jungle Book as well as his poetry and stories about British soldiers in India, which include "Gunga Din" and The Man Who Would Be King. Kipling was enormously popular at the turn of the 20th century but his reputation declined with the change in attitude toward British imperialism. In recent years Kipling's works have found new acclaim as a vibrant source of literary and cultural history.

Read an Excerpt

Gunga Din and Other Favorite Poems


Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1990 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-15820-4


    A Legend of the Foreign Office

    This is the reason why Rustum Beg,
    Rajah of Kolazai,
    Drinketh the "simpkin" and brandy peg,
    Maketh the money to fly,
    Vexeth a Government, tender and kind,
    Also—but this is a detail—blind.

    Rustum Beg of Kolazai—slightly backward Native State—
    Lusted for a C. S. I.—so began to sanitate.
    Built a Gaol and Hospital—nearly built a City drain—
    Till his faithful subjects all thought their ruler was insane.

    Strange departures made he then—yea, Departments stranger still,
    Half a dozen Englishmen helped the Rajah with a will,
    Talked of noble aims and high, hinted of a future fine
    For the State of Kolazai, on a strictly Western line.

    Rajah Rustum held his peace; lowered octroi dues one half;
    Organized a State Police; purified the Civil Staff;
    Settled cess and tax afresh in a very liberal way;
    Cut temptations of the flesh—also cut the Bukhshi's pay;

    Roused his Secretariat to a fine Mahratta fury,
    By a Hookum hinting at supervision of dasturi;
    Turned the state of Kolazai very nearly upside-down;
    When the end of May was nigh waited his achievement crown.

    Then the Birthday honours came. Sad to state and sad to see,
    Stood against the Rajah's name nothing more than C. I. E.!

* * *

    Things were lively for a week in the State of Kolazai,
    Even now the people speak of that time regretfully;

    How he disendowed the Gaol—stopped at once the City drain;
    Turned to beauty fair and frail—got his senses back again;
    Doubled taxes, cesses all; cleared away each new-built thana;
    Turned the two-lakh Hospital into a superb Zenana;

    Heaped upon the Bukhshi Sahib wealth and honours manifold;
    Clad himself in Eastern garb—squeezed his people as of old.
    Happy, happy Kolazai! Never more will Rustum Beg
    Play to catch the Viceroy's eye. He prefers the "simpkin" peg.

    The Story of Uriah

    "Now there were two men in one city;
    the one rich, and the other poor."

    Jack Barrett went to Quetta
     Because they told him to.
    He left his wife at Simla
     On three-fourths his monthly screw.
    Jack Barrett died at Quetta
     Ere the next month's pay he drew.

    Jack Barrett went to Quetta,
     He didn't understand
    The reason of his transfer
     From the pleasant mountain-land;
    The season was September,
     And it killed him out of hand.

    Jack Barrett went to Quetta
     And there gave up the ghost:
    Attempting two men's duty
     In that very healthy post;
    And Mrs. Barrett mourned for him
     Five lively months at most.

    Jack Barrett's bones at Quetta
     Enjoy profound repose;
    But I shouldn't be astonished
     If now his spirit knows
    The reason of his transfer
     From the Himalayan snows.

    And, when the Last Great Bugle Call
     Adown the Hurnai throbs,
    When the last grim joke is entered
     In the big black Book of Jobs,
    And Quetta graveyards give again
     Their victims to the air,
    I shouldn't like to be the man,
     Who sent Jack Barrett there.

    My Rival

    I go to concert, party, ball—
     What profit is in these?
    I sit alone against the wall
     And strive to look at ease.
    The incense that is mine by right
     They burn before Her shrine;
    And that's because I'm seventeen
     And she is forty-nine.

    I cannot check my girlish blush,
     My colour comes and goes;
    I redden to my finger-tips,
     And sometimes to my nose.
    But She is white where white should be
     And red where red should shine.
    The blush that flies at seventeen
     Is fixed at forty-nine.

    I wish I had Her constant cheek:
     I wish that I could sing
    All sorts of funny little songs,
     Not quite the proper thing.
    I'm very gauche and very shy,
     Her jokes aren't in my line;
    And, worst of all, I'm seventeen,
     While She is forty-nine.

    The young men come, the young men go,
     Each pink and white and neat,
    She's older than their mothers, but
     They grovel at Her feet.
    They walk beside Her 'rickshaw-wheels—
     They never walk by mine;
    And that's because I'm seventeen
     And She is forty-nine.

    She rides with half a dozen men
     (She calls them "boys" and "mashers")
    I trot along the Mall alone;
     My prettiest frocks and sashes
    Don't help to fill my programme-card,
     And vainly I repine
    From ten to two A.M. Ah me!
     Would I were forty-nine.

    She calls me "darling," "pet," and "dear,"
     And "sweet retiring maid."
    I'm always at the back, I know,
     She puts me in the shade.
    She introduces me to men,
     "Cast" lovers, I opine,
    For sixty takes to seventeen,
     Nineteen to forty-nine.

    But even She must older grow
     And end Her dancing days,
    She can't go on for ever so
     At concerts, balls, and plays.
    One ray of priceless hope I see
     Before my footsteps shine:
    Just think, that She'll be eighty-one
     When I am forty-nine!

    The Betrothed

    "You must choose between me and your cigar."

    Open the old cigar-box, get me a Cuba stout,
    For things are running crossways, and Maggie and I are out.

    We quarrelled about Havanas—we fought o'er a good cheroot,
    And I know she is exacting, and she says I am a brute.

    Open the old cigar-box—let me consider a space;
    In the soft blue veil of the vapour musing on Maggie's face.

    Maggie is pretty to look at—Maggie's a loving lass,
    But the prettiest cheeks must wrinkle, the truest of loves must pass.

    There's peace in a Laranaga, there's calm in a Henry Clay,
    But the best cigar in an hour is finished and thrown away—

    Thrown away for another as perfect and ripe and brown—
    But I could not throw away Maggie for fear o' the talk o' the town!

    Maggie, my wife at fifty—gray and dour and old—
    With never another Maggie to purchase for love or gold!

    And the light of Days that have Been the dark of the Days that Are,
    And Love's torch stinking and stale, like the butt of a dead cigar—

    The butt of a dead cigar you are bound to keep in your pocket—
    With never a new one to light tho' it's charred and black to the socket.

    Open the old cigar-box—let me consider awhile—
    Here is a mild Manilla—there is a wifely smile.

    Which is the better portion—bondage bought with a ring,
    Or a harem of dusky beauties fifty tied in a string?

    Counsellors cunning and silent—comforters true and tried,
    And never a one of the fifty to sneer at a rival bride.

    Thought in the early morning, solace in time of woes,
    Peace in the hush of the twilight, balm ere my eyelids close.

    This will the fifty give me, asking naught in return,
    With only a Suttee's passion—to do their duty and burn.

    This will the fifty give me. When they are spent and dead,
    Five times other fifties shall be my servants instead.

    The furrows of far-off Java, the isles of the Spanish Main,
    When they hear my harem is empty, will send me my brides again.

    I will take no heed to their raiment, nor food for their mouths withal,
    So long as the gulls are nesting, so long as the showers fall.

    I will scent 'em with best Vanilla, with tea will I temper their hides,
    And the Moor and the Mormon shall envy who read of the tale of my brides.

    For Maggie has written a letter that gives me my choice between
    The wee little whimpering Love and the great god Nick o' Teen.

    And I have been servant of Love for barely a twelve-month clear,
    But I have been Priest of Partagas a matter of seven year;

    And the gloom of my bachelor days is flecked with the cheery light
    Of stumps that I burned to Friendship and Pleasure and Work and Fight.

    And I turn my eyes to the future that Maggie and I must prove,
    But the only light on the marshes is the Will-o'-the-Wisp of Love.

    Will it see me safe through my journey or leave me bogged in the mire?
    Since a puff of tobacco can cloud it, shall I follow the fitful fire?

    Open the old cigar-box—let me consider anew—
    Old friends, and who is Maggie that I should abandon you?

    A million surplus Maggies are willing to bear the yoke;
    And a woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a Smoke.

    Light me another Cuba—I hold to my first-sworn vows,
    If Maggie will have no rival, I'll have no Maggie for spouse!

    The Ballad of East and West

    Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
    Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;
    But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
    When two strong men stand face to face, tho' they come from the ends of the earth!

    Kamal is out with twenty men to raise the Border side,
    And he has lifted the Colonel's mare that is the Colonel's pride:
    He has lifted her out of the stable-door between the dawn and the day,
    And turned the calkins upon her feet, and ridden her far away
    Then up and spoke the Colonel's son that led a troop of the Guides:
    'Is there never a man of all my men can say where Kamal hides?'
    Then up and spoke Mahommed Khan, the son of the Ressaldar,
    'If ye know the track of the morning-mist, ye know where his pickets are.
    'At dusk he harries the Abazai—at dawn he is into Bonair,
    'But he must go by Fort Bukloh to his own place to fare,
    'So if ye gallop to Fort Bukloh as fast as a bird can fly,
    'By the favour of God ye may cut him off ere he win to the Tongue of Jagai,
    'But if he be passed the Tongue of Jagai, right swiftly turn ye then,
    'For the length and the breadth of that grisly plain is sown with Kamal's men.
    'There is rock to the left, and rock to the right, and low lean thorn between,
    'And ye may hear a breech-bolt snick where never a man is seen.'
    The Colonel's son has taken a horse, and a raw rough dun was he,
    With the mouth of a bell and the heart of Hell, and the head of the gallows-tree.
    The Colonel's son to the Fort has won, they bid him stay to eat—
    Who rides at the tail of a Border thief, he sits not long at his meat.
    He's up and away from Fort Bukloh as fast as he can fly,
    Till he was aware of his father's mare in the gut of the Tongue of Jagai,
    Till he was aware of his father's mare with Kamal upon her back,
    And when he could spy the white of her eye, he made the pistol crack.
    He has fired once, he has fired twice, but the whistling ball went wide.
    'Ye shoot like a soldier,' Kamal said. 'Show now if ye can ride.'
    It's up and over the Tongue of Jagai, as blown dust-devils go,
    The dun he fled like a stag of ten, but the mare like a barren doe.
    The dun he leaned against the bit and slugged his head above,
    But the red mare played with the snaffle-bars, as a maiden plays with a glove.
    There was rock to the left and rock to the right, and low lean thorn between,
    And thrice he heard a breech-bolt snick tho' never a man was seen.
    They have ridden the low moon out of the sky, their hoofs drum up the dawn,
    The dun he went like a wounded bull, but the mare like a new-roused fawn.
    The dun he fell at a water-course—in a woful heap fell he,
    And Kamal has turned the red mare back, and pulled the rider free.
    He has knocked the pistol out of his hand—small room was there to strive,
    "Twas only by favour of mine,' quoth he, 'ye rode so long alive:
    'There was not a rock for twenty mile, there was not a clump of tree,
    'But covered a man of my own men with his rifle cocked on his knee.
    'If I had raised my bridle-hand, as I have held it low,
    'The little jackals that flee so fast, were feasting all in a row:
    'If I had bowed my head on my breast, as I have held it high,
    'The kite that whistles above us now were gorged till she could not fly.'
    Lightly answered the Colonel's son:—'Do good to bird and beast,
    'But count who come for the broken meats before thou makest a feast.
    'If there should follow a thousand swords to carry my bones away,
    'Belike the price of a jackal's meal were more than a thief could pay.
    'They will feed their horse on the standing crop, their men on the garnered grain,
    'The thatch of the byres will serve their fires when all the cattle are slain.
    'But if thou thinkest the price be fair,—thy brethren wait to sup,
    'The hound is kin to the jackal-spawn,—howl, dog, and call them up!
    'And if thou thinkest the price be high, in steer and gear and stack,
    'Give me my father's mare again, and I'll fight my own way back!'
    Kamal has gripped him by the hand and set him upon his feet.
    'No talk shall be of dogs,' said he, 'when wolf and grey wolf meet.
    'May I eat dirt if thou hast hurt of me in deed or breath;
    'What dam of lances brought thee forth to jest at the dawn with Death?'
    Lightly answered the Colonel's son: 'I hold by the blood of my
    clan: 'Take up the mare for my father's gift—by God, she
    has carried a man!' The red mare ran to the Colonel's son, and
    nuzzled against his breast, 'We be two strong men,' said Kamal
    then, 'but she loveth the younger best.
    'So she shall go with a lifter's dower, my turquoise-studded rein,
    'My broidered saddle and saddle-cloth, and silver stirrups twain.'
    The Colonel's son a pistol drew and held it muzzle-end,
    'Ye have taken the one from a foe,' said he; 'will ye take the mate from a friend?'
    'A gift for a gift,' said Kamal straight; 'a limb for the risk of a limb.
    'Thy father has sent his son to me, I'll send my son to him!'
    With that he whistled his only son, that dropped from a mountain-crest—
    He trod the ling like a buck in spring, and he looked like a lance in rest.
    'Now here is thy master,' Kamal said, 'who leads a troop of the Guides,
    'And thou must ride at his left side as shield on shoulder rides.
    'Till Death or I cut loose the tie, at camp and board and bed,
    'Thy life is his—thy fate it is to guard him with thy head.
    'So thou must eat the White Queen's meat, and all her foes are thine,
    'And thou must harry thy father's hold for the peace of the Borderline,
    'And thou must make a trooper tough and hack thy way to power—
    'Belike they will raise thee to Ressaldar when I am hanged in Peshawur.'

    They have looked each other between the eyes, and there they found no fault,
    They have taken the Oath of the Brother-in-Blood on leavened bread and salt:
    They have taken the Oath of the Brother-in-Blood on fire and fresh-cut sod,
    On the hilt and the haft of the Khyber knife, and the Wondrous Names of God.
    The Colonel's son he rides the mare and Kamal's boy the dun,
    And two have come back to Fort Bukloh where there went forth but one.
    And when they drew to the Quarter-Guard, full twenty swords flew clear—
    There was not a man but carried his feud with the blood of the mountaineer.
    'Ha' done! ha' done!' said the Colonel's son. 'Put up the steel at your sides!
    Last night ye had struck at a Border thief—tonight 'tis a man of the Guides!'

    Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the two shall meet,
    Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;
    But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
    When two strong men stand face to face, tho' they come from the ends of the earth.


Excerpted from Gunga Din and Other Favorite Poems by RUDYARD KIPLING, STANLEY APPELBAUM. Copyright © 1990 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

From Departmental Ditties and Other Poems (1886 ff.)
  A Legend of the Foreign Office
  The Story of Uriah
  My Rival
  The Betrothed
From Ballads and Barrack-Room Ballads (1892 ff.)
  The Ballad of East and West
  The Ballad of the King's Mercy
  The Ballad of the 'Bolivar'
  The Conundrum of the Workshops
  In the Neolithic Age
  The English Flag
  Danny Deever
  Gunga Din
  The Widow at Windsor
  L'Envoi (The Long Trail)
From The Seven Seas (1896)
  McAndrew's Hymn
  Sestina of the Tramp-Royal
  When 'Omer smote 'is bloomin' lyre'
  The Ladies
  The Sergeant's Weddin'
  The 'Eathen
  L'Envoi ('When Earth's last picture is painted')
From The Five Nations (1903)
  The Sea and the Hills
  The White Man's Burden
From Songs from Books (1912 ff.)
  Cities and Thrones and Powers (from Puck of Pook's Hill, 1906)
  Tarrant Moss (from Plain Tales from the Hills, 1888)
  A Song to Mithras (from Puck of Pook's Hill)
  Hadramauti (from Plain Tales from the Hills)
  The Law of the Jungle (from The Second Jungle Book, 1895)
  Blue Roses (from The Light That Failed, 1890)
  Mother o' Mine (from The Light That Failed)
From Miscellaneous Sources
  The Vampire (1897)
  Recessional (1897)
  The Absent-Minded Beggar (1899)
  The Female of Species (1911)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Gunga Din and Other Favorite Poems 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Quite unfortunately, Kipling has faded in literary popularity, in part, because he was, supposedly, the 'poet of imperialism.' There is some truth to this but, far more importantly, Kipling was arguably the greatest of all writers of the English Language. His poetry is simply superb. At one level, it is direct, masuculine and blunt. At another level, it is subtle and insightful, indeed. 'So 'ere's to you Fuzzy Wuzzy at your 'ome in the Sudan You're a poor benighted 'eathen but a first-class fightin' man.' Or, the poem that prevented Kipling from being appointed Poet-Laureate of Great Britain [Queen Victoria was NOT pleased]. 'So 'ere's to you, Widow at Windsor For 'alf of creation you own and we've won her the same with the sword and the flame and salted it down with our bones. Poor boys. It's blue with our bones.' Lines like this are the work of genius and have never been terms of Kipling's being a bone-headed colonialist, well, his detractors clearly never actually read Kipling. 'Din, Din, Din You Lazarusian Leather Gunga Din Though I've beat you Though I've flayed you You're a better man than I am Gunga Din.' Kipling was a man both humane and intelligent enough to understand and 'feel' the ambiguities of colonialism and empire.