Verse > Rudyard Kipling > Verse: 1885–1918
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Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).  Verse: 1885–1918.  1922.
 
The Legends of Evil
 
1890

I
THIS is the sorrowful story
  Told as the twilight fails
And the monkeys walk together
  Holding their neighbours’ tails:—
 
“Our fathers lived in the forest,        5
  “Foolish people were they,
“They went down to the cornland
  “To teach the farmers to play.
 
“Our fathers frisked in the millet,
  “Our fathers skipped in the wheat,        10
“Our fathers hung from the branches,
  “Our fathers danced in the street.
 
“Then came the terrible farmers,
  “Nothing of play they knew,
“Only … they caught our fathers        15
  “And set them to labour too!
 
“Set them to work in the cornland
  “With ploughs and sickles and flails,
“Put them in mud-walled prisons,
  “And—cut off their beautiful tails!        20
 
“Now, we can watch our fathers,
  “Sullen and bowed and old,
“Stooping over the millet,
  “Sharing the silly mould,
 
“Driving a foolish furrow,        25
  “Mending a muddy yoke,
“Sleeping in mud-walled prisons,
  “Steeping their food in smoke.
 
“We may not speak with our fathers,
  “For if the farmers knew        30
“They would come up to the forest
  “And set us to labour too.”
 
This is the horrible story
  Told as the twilight fails
And the monkeys walk together        35
  Holding their neighbours’ tails.
 
II
’TWAS when the rain fell steady an’ the Ark was pitched an’ ready,
  That Noah got his orders for to take the bastes below;
He dragged them all together by the horn an’ hide an’ feather,
  An’ all excipt the Donkey was agreeable to go.        40
 
First Noah spoke him fairly, thin talked to him sevarely,
  An’ thin he cursed him squarely to the glory av the Lord:—
“Divil take the ass that bred you, and the greater ass that fed you—
  “Divil go wid ye, ye spalpeen!” an’ the Donkey wint aboard.
 
But the wind was always failin’, an’ ’twas most onaisy sailin’,        45
  An’ the ladies in the cabin couldn’t stand the stable air;
An’ the bastes betwuxt the hatches, they tuk an’ died in batches,
  Till Noah said:—“There’s wan av us that hasn’t paid his fare!”
 
For he heard a flusteration ’mid the bastes av all creation—
  The trumpetin’ av elephints an’ bellowin’ av whales;        50
An’ he saw forninst the windy whin he wint to stop the shindy
  The Divil wid a stable-fork was bedivillin’ their tails.
 
The Divil cursed outrageous, but Noah said umbrageous:—
  “To what am I indebted for this tenant-right invasion?”
An’ the Divil gave for answer: “Evict me if you can, sir,        55
  “For I came in wid the Donkey—on Your Honour’s invitation.”
 
 
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