A Diversity of Creatures, by Rudyard Kipling

Jobson’s Amen

‘Blessed be the English and all their ways and works.
Cursed be the Infidels, Hereticks, and Turks!’
‘Amen,’ quo’ Jobson, ‘but where I used to lie
Was neither Candle, Bell nor Book to curse my brethren by:

‘But a palm-tree in full bearing, bowing down, bowing down,
To a surf that drove unsparing at the brown-walled town —
Conches in a temple, oil-lamps in a dome —
And a low moon out of Africa said: “This way home!”’

‘Blessed be the English and all that they profess.
Cursed be the Savages that prance in nakedness!’
‘Amen,’ quo’ Jobson, ‘but where I used to lie
Was neither shirt nor pantaloons to catch my brethren by:

‘But a well-wheel slowly creaking, going round, going round,
By a water-channel leaking over drowned, warm ground —
Parrots very busy in the trellised pepper-vine —
And a high sun over Asia shouting: “Rise and shine!”’

‘Blessed be the English and everything they own.
Cursed be the Infidels that bow to wood and stone!’
‘Amen,’ quo’ Jobson, ‘but where I used to lie
Was neither pew nor Gospelleer to save my brethren by:

‘But a desert stretched and stricken, left and right, left and right,
Where the piled mirages thicken under white-hot light —
A skull beneath a sand-hill and a viper coiled inside —
And a red wind out of Libya roaring: “Run and hide!”’

‘Blessed be the English and all they make or do.
Cursed be the Hereticks who doubt that this is true!’
‘Amen,’ quo’ Jobson, ‘but where I mean to die
Is neither rule nor calliper to judge the matter by:

‘But Himalaya heavenward-heading, sheer and vast, sheer and vast,
In a million summits bedding on the last world’s past;
A certain sacred mountain where the scented cedars climb,
And — the feet of my Beloved hurrying back through Time!’

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/k/kipling/rudyard/diversity/chapter14.html

Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:38