Limits and Renewals, by Rudyard Kipling

The Totem

ERE the mother’s milk had dried
  On my lips, the Brethren came —
Tore me from my nurse’s side.
  And bestowed on me a name

Infamously overtrue —
  Such as ‘Bunny,’ ‘Stinker,’ ‘Podge’; —
But, whatever I should do.
  Mine for ever in the Lodge.

Then they taught with palm and toe —
  Then I learned with yelps and tears —
All the Armoured Man should know
  Through his Seven Secret Years . . .

Last, oppressing as oppressed.
  I was loosed to go my ways
With a Totem on my breast
  Governing my nights and days —

Ancient and unbribeable.
  By the virtue of its Name —
Which, however oft I fell
  Lashed me back into The Game.

And the World, that never knew.
  Saw no more beneath my chin
Than a patch of rainbow-hue.
  Mixed as Life and crude as Sin.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:56