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Poem by Rudyard Kipling
Verses on Games. To “An Almanack of Twelve Sports” by W. Nicholson, 1898
HERE is a horse to tame Here is a gun to handle God knows you can enter the game If you’ll only pay for the same, And the price of the game is a candle— A single flickering candle! JANUARY (Hunting) Certes, it is a noble sport, And men have quitted selle and swum for’t. But I am of the meeker sort And I prefer Surtees in comfort. Reach me my Handley Cross again, My run, where never danger lurks, is With Jorrocks and his deathless train— Pigg, Binjimin, and Artexerxes. FEBRUARY (Coursing) Most men harry the world for fun— Each man seeks it a different way, But “of all daft devils under the sun, A greyhound’s the daftest” says Jorrocks J. MARCH (Racing) The horse is ridden—the jockey rides— The backers back—the owners own But . . . there are lots of things beside, And I should let this game alone. APRIL (Rowing) The Pope of Rome he could not win From pleasant meats and pleasant sin These who, replying not, submit Unto the curses of the pit Which that stern coach (oh, greater shame) Flings forth by number not by name. Can Triple Crown or Jesuit’s oath Do what one wrathful trainer doth? MAY (Fishing) Behold a parable. A fished for B C took her bait; her heart being set on D. Thank heaven who cooled your blood and cramped your wishes, Men and not Gods torment you, little fishes! JUNE (Cricket) Thank God who made the British Isles And taught me how to play, I do not worship crocodiles, Or bow the knee to clay! Give me a willow wand and I With hide and cork and twine From century to century Will gambol round my shrine! JULY (Archery) The child of the Nineties considers with laughter The maid whom his sire in the Sixties ran after, While careering himself in pursuit of a girl whom The Twenties will dub a “last century heirloom.” AUGUST (Coaching) The Pious Horse to church may trot, A maid may work a man’s salvation . . . . Four horses and a girl are not, However, roads to reformation. SEPTEMBER (Shooting) “Peace upon Earth, Goodwill to men” So greet we Christmas Day! Oh, Christian, load your gun and then Oh, Christian, out and slay. OCTOBER (Golf) Why Golf is art and art is Golf We have not far to seek— So much depends upon the lie, So much upon the cleek. NOVEMBER (Boxing) Read here the moral roundly writ For him who into battle goes— Each soul that hitting hard or hit, Endureth gross or ghostly foes. Prince, blown by many overthrows Half blind with shame, half choked with dirt Man cannot tell, but Allah knows How much the other side was hurt! DECEMBER (Skating) Over the ice she flies Perfect and poised and fair. Stars in my true-love’s eyes Teach me to do and dare. Now will I fly as she flies— Woe for the stars that misled. Stars I beheld in her eyes, Now do I see in my head! Now we must come away. That are you out of pocket? ’Sorry to spoil your play But somebody says we must pay And the candle’s down to the socket— Its horrible tallowy socket.
Rudyard Kipling's other poems:
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