Chil the Kite brings home the night
That Mang the Bat sets free—
The herds are shut in byre and hut
For loosed till dawn are we.
This is the hour of pride and power,
Talon and tush and claw.
Oh hear the call!—Good hunting all
That keep the Jungle Law!
His spots are the joy of the Leopard: his horns are the Buffalo’s pride.
Be clean, for the strength of the hunter is known by the gloss of his hide.
If ye find that the bullock can toss you, or the heavy-browed Sambhur can gore;
Ye need not stop work to inform us. We knew it ten seasons before.
Oppress not the cubs of the stranger, but hail them as Sister and Brother,
For though they are little and fubsy, it may be the Bear is their mother.
“There is none like to me!” says the Cub in the pride of his earliest kill;
But the jungle is large and the Cub he is small. Let him think and be still.
The stream is shrunk—the pool is dry,
And we be comrades, thou and I;
With fevered jowl and dusty flank
Each jostling each along the bank;
And, by one drouthy fear made still,
Foregoing thought of quest or kill.
Now ’neath his dam the fawn may see,
The lean Pack-wolf as cowed as he,
And the tall buck, unflinching, note
The fangs that tore his father’s throat.
The pools are shrunk—the streams are dry,
And we be playmates, thou and I,
Till yonder cloud—Good Hunting!—loose
The rain that breaks our Water Truce.
What of the hunting, hunter bold?
Brother, the watch was long and cold.
What of the quarry ye went to kill?
Brother, he crops in the jungle still.
Where is the power that made your pride?
Brother, it ebbs from my flank and side.
Where is the haste that ye hurry by?
Brother, I go to my lair to die!
Veil them, cover them, wall them round—
Blossom, and creeper, and weed—
Let us forget the sight and the sound,
The smell and the touch of the breed!
Fat black ash by the altar-stone,
Here is the white-foot rain,
And the does bring forth in the fields unsown,
And none shall affright them again;
And the blind walls crumble, unknown, o’erthrown,
And none shall inhabit again!
These are the Four that are never content, that have never been filled since the Dews began—
Jacala’s mouth, and the glut of the Kite, and the hands of the Ape, and the Eyes of Man.
For our white and our excellent nights—for the nights of swift running,
Fair ranging, far-seeing, good hunting, sure cunning!
For the smells of the dawning, untainted, ere dew has departed!
For the rush through the mist, and the quarry blind-started!
For the cry of our mates when the sambhur has wheeled and is standing at bay!
For the risk and the riot of night!
For the sleep at the lair-mouth by day!
It is met, and we go to the fight.
Bay! O bay!
Man goes to Man! Cry the challenge through the Jungle!
He that was our Brother goes away.
Hear now, and judge, O ye People of the Jungle,—
Answer, who can turn him—who shall stay?
Man goes to Man! He is weeping in the jungle:
He that was our Brother sorrows sore!
Man goes to Man! (Oh, we loved him in the jungle!)
To the Man-Trail where we may not follow more.
At the hole where he went in
Red-Eye called to Wrinkle-Skin.
Hear what little Red-Eye saith:
“Nag, come up and dance with death!”
Eye to eye and head to head,
(Keep the measure, Nag.)
This shall end when one is dead;
(At thy pleasure, Nag.)
Turn for turn and twist for twist—
(Run and hide thee, Nag.)
Hah! The hooded Death has missed!
(Woe betide thee, Nag !)
Oh! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us,
And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, o'er the combers, looks downward to find us
At rest in the hollows that rustle between.
Where billow meets billow, then soft be thy pillow;
Ah, weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas.
You mustn’t swim till you’re six weeks old,
Or your head will be sunk by your heels;
And summer gales and Killer Whales
Are bad for baby seals.
Are bad for baby seals, dear rat,
As bad as bad can be;
But splash and grow strong,
And you can’t be wrong,
Child of the Open Sea!
I will remember what I was, I am sick of rope and chain—
I will remember my old strength and all my forest-affairs.
I will not sell my back to man for a bundle of sugar-cane.
I will go out to my own kind, and the wood-folk in their lairs.
I will go out until the day, until the morning break,
Out to the winds’ untainted kiss, the waters’ clean caress.
I will forget my ankle-ring and snap my picket-stake.
I will revisit my lost loves, and playmates masterless!
The People of the Eastern Ice, they are melting like the snow—
They beg for coffee and sugar; they go where the white men go.
The People of the Western Ice, they learn to steal and fight;
They sell their furs to the trading-post; they sell their souls to the white.
The People of the Southern Ice, they trade with the whaler’s crew;
Their women have many ribbons, but their tents are torn and few.
But the People of the Elder Ice, beyond the white man’s ken—
Their spears are made of the narwhal-horn, and they are the last of the Men!
When ye say to Tabaqui, “My Brother!” when ye call the Hyena to meat,
Ye may cry the Full Truce with Jacala—the Belly that runs on four feet.
The night we felt the earth would move
We stole and plucked him by the hand,
Because we loved him with the love
That knows but cannot understand.
And when the roaring hillside broke,
And all our world fell down in rain,
We saved him, we the Little Folk;
But lo! he does not come again!
Mourn now, we saved him for the sake
Of such poor love as wild ones may.
Mourn ye! Our brother will not wake,
And his own kind drive us away!