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Remembering Rudyard Kipling:
December 30, 1865 to January 18, 1936

John Collier, Portrait of Rudyard Kipling, circa 1891

John Collier, Portrait of Rudyard Kipling, circa 1891

1,401 words

Nobel Prize-winning poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling was born on this day in 1865. For an introduction to his life and works, see the following articles on this site.

The Pierce article also contains a number of Kipling’s best poems. An additional selection is found below. Please post your favorite Kipling poems and quotes in the comments section below.

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 impostors 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 breathe 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!

The Wrath of the Awakened Saxon

It was not part of their blood,
It came to them very late,
With long arrears to make good,
When the Saxon began to hate.

They were not easily moved,
They were icy — willing to wait
Till every count should be proved,
Ere the Saxon began to hate.

Their voices were even and low.
Their eyes were level and straight.
There was neither sign nor show
When the Saxon began to hate.

It was not preached to the crowd.
It was not taught by the state.
No man spoke it aloud
When the Saxon began to hate.

It was not suddently bred.
It will not swiftly abate.
Through the chilled years ahead,
When Time shall count from the date
That the Saxon began to hate.

The White Man’s Burden

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 hopes to nought.

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 mark 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 he 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 cloke your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your gods and you.

Take up the White Man’s burden —
Have done with childish days —
The lightly proferred 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!

The Female of the Species

When the Himalayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride,
He shouts to scare the monster, who will often turn aside.
But the she-bear thus accosted rends the peasant tooth and nail.
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

When Nag the basking cobra hears the careless foot of man,
He will sometimes wriggle sideways and avoid it if he can.
But his mate makes no such motion where she camps beside the trail.
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

When the early Jesuit fathers preached to Hurons and Choctaws,
They prayed to be delivered from the vengeance of the squaws.
‘Twas the women, not the warriors, turned those stark enthusiasts pale.
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

Man’s timid heart is bursting with the things he must not say,
For the Woman that God gave him isn’t his to give away;
But when hunter meets with husbands, each confirms the other’s tale —
The female of the species is more deadly than the male.

Man, a bear in most relations — worm and savage otherwise, —
Man propounds negotiations, Man accepts the compromise.
Very rarely will he squarely push the logic of a fact
To its ultimate conclusion in unmitigated act.

Fear, or foolishness, impels him, ere he lay the wicked low,
To concede some form of trial even to his fiercest foe.
Mirth obscene diverts his anger — Doubt and Pity oft perplex
Him in dealing with an issue — to the scandal of The Sex!

But the Woman that God gave him, every fibre of her frame
Proves her launched for one sole issue, armed and engined for the same;
And to serve that single issue, lest the generations fail,
The female of the species must be deadlier than the male.

She who faces Death by torture for each life beneath her breast
May not deal in doubt or pity — must not swerve for fact or jest.
These be purely male diversions — not in these her honour dwells —
She the Other Law we live by, is that Law and nothing else.

She can bring no more to living than the powers that make her great
As the Mother of the Infant and the Mistress of the Mate.
And when Babe and Man are lacking and she strides unclaimed to claim
Her right as femme (and baron), her equipment is the same.

She is wedded to convictions — in default of grosser ties;
Her contentions are her children, Heaven help him who denies! —
He will meet no suave discussion, but the instant, white-hot, wild,
Wakened female of the species warring as for spouse and child.

Unprovoked and awful charges — even so the she-bear fights,
Speech that drips, corrodes, and poisons — even so the cobra bites,
Scientific vivisection of one nerve till it is raw
And the victim writhes in anguish — like the Jesuit with the squaw!

So it comes that Man, the coward, when he gathers to confer
With his fellow-braves in council, dare not leave a place for her
Where, at war with Life and Conscience, he uplifts his erring hands
To some God of Abstract Justice — which no woman understands.

And Man knows it! Knows, moreover, that the Woman that God gave him
Must command but may not govern — shall enthral but not enslave him.
And She knows, because She warns him, and Her instincts never fail,
That the Female of Her Species is more deadly than the Male.

 

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3 Comments

  1. David Halevi
    Posted December 30, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Stunning short story – The Mother Hive.

  2. ChristopherP
    Posted December 30, 2013 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    The Stranger

    The Stranger within my gate,
    He may be true or kind,
    But does not talk my talk –
    I cannot feel his mind.
    I see the face and the eyes and the mouth,
    But not the soul behind.

    The men of my own stock,
    They may do ill or well,
    But they tell the lies I am wonted to,
    They are used to the lies I tell;
    And we do not need interpreters
    When we go to buy and sell.

    The stranger within my gates,
    He may be evil or good,
    But I cannot tell what powers control –
    What reasons sway his mood;
    Nor when the Gods of his far-off land
    Shall repossess his blood.

    The men of my own stock,
    Bitter bad they may be,
    But, at least, they hear the things I hear,
    And see the things I see;
    And whatever I think of them and their likes
    They think of the likes of me.

    This was my father’s belief
    And this is also mine:
    Let the corn be of all one sheaf –
    And the grapes be all one vine,
    Ere our children’s teeth are set on edge
    By bitter bread and wine.

  3. ChristopherP
    Posted December 30, 2013 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    Norman and Saxon

    A.D. 11.00

    “My son,” said the Norman Baron, “I am dying, and you will be heir
    To all the broad acres in England that William gave me for share
    When he conquered the Saxon at Hastings, and a nice little handful it is.
    But before you go over to rule it I want you to understand this:–

    “The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
    But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.
    When he stands like an ox in the furrow – with his sullen set eyes on your own,
    And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealing,’ my son, leave the Saxon alone.

    “You can horsewhip your Gascony archers, or torture your Picardy spears;
    But don’t try that game on the Saxon; you’ll have the whole brood round your ears.
    From the richest old Thane in the county to the poorest chained serf in the field,
    They’ll be at you and on you like hornets, and, if you are wise, you will yield.

    “But first you must master their language, their dialect, proverbs and songs.
    Don’t trust any clerk to interpret when they come with the tale of their wrongs.
    Let them know that you know what they’re saying; let them feel that you know what to say.
    Yes, even when you want to go hunting, hear ’em out if it takes you all day.

    They’ll drink every hour of the daylight and poach every hour of the dark.
    It’s the sport not the rabbits they’re after (we’ve plenty of game in the park).
    Don’t hang them or cut off their fingers. That’s wasteful as well as unkind,
    For a hard-bitten, South-country poacher makes the best man- at-arms you can find.

    “Appear with your wife and the children at their weddings and funerals and feasts.
    Be polite but not friendly to Bishops; be good to all poor parish priests.
    Say ‘we,’ ‘us’ and ‘ours’ when you’re talking, instead of ‘you fellows’ and ‘I.’
    Don’t ride over seeds; keep your temper; and never you tell ’em a lie!”

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