Posts Tagged ‘Rudyard Kipling’




















You may talk o’ gin and beer
When you’re quartered safe out ‘ere,
An’ you’re sent to penny-fights an’ Aldershot it;
But when it comes to slaughter
You will do your work on water,
An’ you’ll lick the bloomin’ boots of ‘im that’s got it.
Now in Injia’s sunny clime,
Where I used to spend my time
A-servin’ of ‘Er Majesty the Queen,
Of all them blackfaced crew
The finest man I knew
Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din.
He was “Din! Din! Din!
You limpin’ lump o’ brick-dust, Gunga Din!
Hi! slippery hitherao!
Water, get it! Panee lao!
You squidgy-nosed old idol, Gunga Din.”

The uniform ‘e wore
Was nothin’ much before,
An’ rather less than ‘arf o’ that be’ind,
For a piece o’ twisty rag
An’ a goatskin water-bag
Was all the field-equipment ‘e could find.
When the sweatin’ troop-train lay
In a sidin’ through the day,
Where the ‘eat would make your bloomin’ eyebrows crawl,
We shouted “Harry By!”
Till our throats were bricky-dry,
Then we wopped ‘im ’cause ‘e couldn’t serve us all.
It was “Din! Din! Din!
You ‘eathen, where the mischief ‘ave you been?
You put some juldee in it
Or I’ll marrow you this minute
If you don’t fill up my helmet, Gunga Din!”

‘E would dot an’ carry one
Till the longest day was done;
An’ ‘e didn’t seem to know the use o’ fear.
If we charged or broke or cut,
You could bet your bloomin’ nut,
‘E’d be waitin’ fifty paces right flank rear.
With ‘is mussick on ‘is back,
‘E would skip with our attack,
An’ watch us till the bugles made “Retire”,
An’ for all ‘is dirty ‘ide
‘E was white, clear white, inside
When ‘e went to tend the wounded under fire!
It was “Din! Din! Din!”
With the bullets kickin’ dust-spots on the green.
When the cartridges ran out,
You could hear the front-files shout,
“Hi! ammunition-mules an’ Gunga Din!”

I shan’t forgit the night
When I dropped be’ind the fight
With a bullet where my belt-plate should ‘a’ been.
I was chokin’ mad with thirst,
An’ the man that spied me first
Was our good old grinnin’, gruntin’ Gunga Din.
‘E lifted up my ‘ead,
An’ he plugged me where I bled,
An’ ‘e guv me ‘arf-a-pint o’ water-green:
It was crawlin’ and it stunk,
But of all the drinks I’ve drunk,
I’m gratefullest to one from Gunga Din.
It was “Din! Din! Din!
‘Ere’s a beggar with a bullet through ‘is spleen;
‘E’s chawin’ up the ground,
An’ ‘e’s kickin’ all around:
For Gawd’s sake git the water, Gunga Din!”

‘E carried me away
To where a dooli lay,
An’ a bullet come an’ drilled the beggar clean.
‘E put me safe inside,
An’ just before ‘e died,
“I ‘ope you liked your drink”, sez Gunga Din.
So I’ll meet ‘im later on
At the place where ‘e is gone —
Where it’s always double drill and no canteen;
‘E’ll be squattin’ on the coals
Givin’ drink to poor damned souls,
An’ I’ll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!
Yes, Din! Din! Din!
You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!
Though I’ve belted you and flayed you,
By the livin’ Gawd that made you,
You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

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Halfway through Captains Courageous, Rudyard Kipling’s half-pint hero Harvey has “another mystery of the sea to brood upon.” After falling out of an ocean liner Harvey Cheyne is thrown into a foreign environment. Much like Kipling’s Jungle Book, which I have not read and like Kim, which I have read, Captains Courageous poses the reader a difficult question, can a child, essentially, survive in a sometimes hostile, every time completely different, environment? The answer, with the perrenial post-romantics of Kipling involved, is yes. Adversity can be overcome and the little person can be better for it. 

What is interesting to note is the oddness of the terrain and persons that Harvey Cheyne is surrounded by.  The Pequod, oh I mean the We’re Here, is a gallery of types set against the treacherous sea.  The captain Disko Troop, who disbelieves Harvey at first, is a salty man who guides his craft with something akin to a 6th sense.  One wonders what happened to the lingo of the novel in real life? Did it just float out with the cultural tide? or do modern sailors have their own jargon?  I don’t profess to know.  I could go through all the other main characters and the tertiary ones but what fun would that be for someone who hasn’t read the book yet>.

The last thing I would like to get at is the fast pace of the novel.  It is certainly an adventure tale set against an exciting backdrop, but what else is it?  Well the introduction attempts to claim that the fishing vessel is an allegory for turn of the century America. I, while not begging to differ, would like to say that an adventure story can be written without a whole mess of insight into its’ intentions. Let alone giving it a close reading of post-doctoral proportions. But don’t worry avid reader I will get mines when I go back to Graduate School.

Anyways, give this one a good reading and you will be thoroughly entertained.

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