The Comforters

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The Comforters  (1917) 
by Rudyard Kipling
First published in A Diversity of Creatures (1917), where it accompanies the story The Dog Hervey.


   Until thy feet have trod the Road
     Advise not wayside folk,
   Nor till thy back has borne the Load
     Break in upon the broke.

   Chase not with undesired largesse
     Of sympathy the heart
   Which, knowing her own bitterness,
     Presumes to dwell apart.

   Employ not that glad hand to raise
      The God-forgotten head
   To Heaven and all the neighbours' gaze --
     Cover thy mouth instead.

   The quivering chin, the bitten lip,
     The cold and sweating brow,
   Later may yearn for fellowship --
     Not now, you ass, not now!

   Time, not thy ne'er so timely speech,
      Life, not thy views thereon,
   Shall furnish or deny to each
      His consolation.

   Or, if impelled to interfere,
      Exhort, uplift, advise,
   Lend not a base, betraying ear
      To all the victim's cries.

   Only the Lord can understand,
      When those first pangs begin,
   How much is reflex action and
      How much is really sin.

   E'en from good words thyself refrain,
      And tremblingly admit
   There is no anodyne for pain
      Except the shock of it.

   So, when thine own dark hour shall fall,
      Unchallenged canst thou say:
   "I never worried you at all,
      For God's sake go away!"


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1936, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 75 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.