Departmental Ditties and Ballads and Barrack-Room Ballads/"As the Bell Clinks"

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Departmental Ditties and Ballads and Barrack-Room Ballads  (1919) 
Rudyard Kipling
"As the Bell Clinks"
Garden City New York: Doubleday, Page & Company pages 104-107

"AS THE BELL CLINKS"

As I left the Halls at Lumley, rose the vision of a comely
Maid last season worshipped dumbly, watched with fervour from afar;
And I wondered idly, blindly, if the maid would greet me kindly.
That was all—the rest was settled by the clinking tonga-bar.
Ay, my life and hers were coupled by the tonga coupling bar.


For my misty meditation, at the second changing-station,
Suffered sudden dislocation, fled before the tuneless jar
Of a Wagner obbligato, scherzo, double-hand staccato,
Played on either pony's saddle by the clacking tonga-bar—
Played with human speech, I fancied, by the jigging, jolting bar.


"She was sweet," thought I, "last season, but 'twere surely wild unreason
"Such a tiny hope to freeze on as was offered by my Star,
"When she whispered, something sadly:—'I—we feel your going badly?'"
"And you let the chance escape you?" rapped the rattling tonga-bar.
"What a chance and what an idiot!" clinked the vicious tonga-bar.


Heart of man—Oh heart of putty! Had I gone by Kakahutti,
On the old Hill-road and rutty, I had 'scaped that fatal car:
But his fortune each must bide by, so I watched the milestones slide by.
To—"You call on Her to-morrow!"—fugue with cymbals by the bar—
"You must call on Her to-morrow!"—post-horn gallop by the bar.


Yet a further stage my goal on—we were whirling down to Solon,
With a double lurch and roll on, best foot foremost, ganz und gar
"She was very sweet," I hinted. "If a kiss had been imprinted——?"
"Would ha' saved a world of trouble!" clashed the busy tonga-bar.
"'Been accepted or rejected!" banged and clanged the tonga-bar.


Then a notion wild and daring, 'spite the income tax's paring
And a hasty thought of sharing—less than many incomes are
Made me put a question private, you can guess what I would drive at.
"You must work the sum to prove it" clanked the careless tonga-bar.
"Simple Rule of Two will prove it" lilted back the tonga-bar.


It was under Khyraghaut I mused:—Suppose the maid be haughty—
"[There are lovers rich—and forty] wait some wealthy Avatar?
"Answer, monitor untiring, 'twixt the ponies twain perspiring!"
"Faint heart never won fair lady," creaked the straining tonga-bar.
"Can I tell you ere you ask Her?" pounded slow the tonga-bar.


Last, the Tara Devi turning showed the lights of Simla burning,
Lit my little lazy yearning to a fiercer flame by far.
As below the Mall we jingled, through my very heart it tingled—
The reiterated order of the threshing tonga-bar:—
"Try your luck—you can't do better!" twanged the loosened tonga-bar.