You may talk o' gin an' beer When you're quartered safe out 'ere, An' you're sent to penny-fights an' Aldershot it; But if 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 black-faced crew The finest man I knew Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din. It was "Din! Din! Din! You limping lump o' brick-dust, Gunga Din! Hi! slippy 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 twisty piece o' 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 'ear the front-files shout: "Hi! ammunition-mules an' Gunga Din!" I sha'n'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' 'e plugged me where I bled, An' 'e guv me 'arf-a-pint o' water—green; It was crawlin' an' 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 In 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 pore damned souls, An' I'll get a swig in Hell from Gunga Din! Din! Din! Din! You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din! Tho' I've belted you an' flayed you, By the livin' Gawd that made you, You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!
Rudyard Kipling - 1865-1936
The Conundrum of the Workshops
When the flush of a newborn sun fell first on Eden's green and gold, Our father Adam sat under the Tree and scratched with a stick in the mold; And the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart, Till the Devil whispered behind the leaves: "It's pretty, but is it Art?" Wherefore he called to his wife and fled to fashion his work anew— The first of his race who cared a fig for the first, most dread review; And he left his lore to the use of his sons—and that was a glorious gain When the Devil chuckled: "Is it Art?" in the ear of the branded Cain. They builded a tower to shiver the sky and wrench the stars apart, Till the Devil grunted behind the bricks: "It's striking, but is it Art?" The stone was dropped by the quarry-side, and the idle derrick swung, While each man talked of the aims of art, and each in an alien tongue. They fought and they talked in the north and the south, they talked and they fought in the west, Till the waters rose on the jabbering land, and the poor Red Clay had rest— Had rest till the dank blank-canvas dawn when the dove was preened to start, And the Devil bubbled below the keel: "It's human, but is it Art?" The tale is old as the Eden Tree—as new as the new-cut tooth— For each man knows ere his lip-thatch grows he is master of Art and Truth; And each man hears as the twilight nears, to the beat of his dying heart, The Devil drum on the darkened pane: "You did it, but was it Art?" We have learned to whittle the Eden Tree to the shape of a surplice-peg, We have learned to bottle our parents twain in the yolk of an addled egg, We know that the tail must wag the dog, as the horse is drawn by the cart; But the Devil whoops, as he whooped of old: "It's clever, but is it Art?" When the flicker of London's sun falls faint on the club-room's green and gold, The sons of Adam sit them down and scratch with their pens in the mold— They scratch with their pens in the mold of their graves, and the ink and the anguish start When the Devil mutters behind the leaves: "It's pretty, but is it art?" Now, if we could win to the Eden Tree where the four great rivers flow, And the wreath of Eve is red on the turf as she left it long ago, And if we could come when the sentry slept, and softly scurry through, By the favor of God we might know as much—as our father Adam knew.