Verse > Rudyard Kipling > Verse: 1885–1918
Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).  Verse: 1885–1918.  1922.
The Craftsman
ONCE, after long-drawn revel at The Mermaid,
He to the overbearing Boanerges
Jonson, uttered (if half of it were liquor,
                Blessed be the vintage!)
Saying how, at an alehouse under Cotswold,        5
He had made sure of his very Cleopatra,
Drunk with enormous, salvation-contemning
                Love for a tinker.
How, while he hid from Sir Thomas’s keepers,
Crouched in a ditch and drenched by the midnight        10
Dews, he had listened to gipsy Juliet
                Rail at the dawning.
How at Bankside, a boy drowning kittens
Winced at the business; whereupon his sister—
Lady Macbeth aged seven—thrust ’em under,        15
                Sombrely scornful.
How on a Sabbath, hushed and compassionate—
She being known since her birth to the townsfolk—
Stratford dredged and delivered from Avon
                Dripping Ophelia.        20
So, with a thin third finger marrying
Drop to wine-drop domed on the table,
Shakespeare opened his heart till the sunrise—
                Entered to hear him.
London wakened and he, imperturbable,        25
Passed from waking to hurry after shadows …
Busied upon shows of no earthly importance?
                Yes, but he knew it!

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