Verse > Rudyard Kipling > Verse: 1885–1918
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Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).  Verse: 1885–1918.  1922.
 
Certain Maxims of Hafiz
 
I
IF it be pleasant to look on, stalled in the packed serai,
Does not the Young Man try Its temper and pace ere he buy?
If She be pleasant to look on, what does the Young Man say?
“Lo! She is pleasant to look on. Give Her to me to-day!”
 
II
Yea, though a Kafir die, to him is remitted Jehannum
        5
If he borrowed in life from a native at sixty per cent. per annum.
 
III
Blister we not for bursati? 1 So when the heart is vext,
The pain of one maiden’s refusal is drowned in the pain of the next.
 
IV
The temper of chums, the love of your wife, and a new piano’s tune—
Which of the three will you trust at the end of an Indian June?        10
 
V
Who are the rulers of Ind— to whom shall we bow the knee?
Make your peace with the women, and men will make you L. G. 2
 
VI
Does the woodpecker flit round the young ferash? Does the grass clothe a new-built wall?
Is she under thirty, the woman who holds a boy in her thrall?
 
VII
If She grow suddenly gracious—reflect. Is it all for thee?
        15
The blackbuck is stalked through the bullock, and Man through jealousy.
 
VIII
Seek not for favour of women. So shall you find it indeed.
Does not the boar break cover just when you’re lighting a weed?
 
IX
If He play, being young and unskilful, for shekels of silver and gold,
Take His money, my son, praising Allah. The kid was ordained to be sold.        20
 
X
With a “weed” among men or horses verily this is the best,
That you work him in office or dog-cart lightly—but give him no rest.
 
XI
Pleasant the snaffle of Courtship, improving the manners and carriage;
But the colt who is wise will abstain from the terrible thorn-bit of Marriage.
 
XII
As the thriftless gold of the babul 3 so is the gold that we spread
        25
On a Derby Sweep, or our neighbour’s wife, or the horse that we buy from a friend.
 
XIII
The ways of man with a maid be strange, yet simple and tame
To the ways of a man with a horse, when selling or racing that same.
 
XIV
In public Her face turneth to thee, and pleasant Her smile when ye meet.
It is ill. The cold rocks of El-Gidar smile thus on the waves at their feet.        30
In public Her face is averted, with anger She nameth thy name.
It is well. Was there ever a loser content with the loss of the game?
 
XV
If She have spoken a word, remember thy lips are sealed,
And the Brand of the Dog is upon him by whom is the secret revealed.
If She have written a letter, delay not an instant but burn it.        35
Tear it in pieces, O Fool, and the wind to her mate shall return it!
If there be trouble to Herward, and a lie of the blackest can clear,
Lie, while thy lips can move or a man is alive to hear.
 
XVI
My Son, if a maiden deny thee and scufflingly bid thee give o’er,
Yet lip meets with lip at the lastward. Get out! She has been there before.        40
They are pecked on the ear and the chin and the nose who are lacking in lore.
 
XVII
If we fall in the race, though we win, the hoof-slide is scarred on the course.
Though Allah and Earth pardon Sin, remaineth for ever Remorse.
 
XVIII
“By all I am misunderstood!” if the Matron shall say, or the Maid:—
“Alas! I do not understand,” my son, be thou nowise afraid.        45
In vain in the sight of the Bird is the net of the Fowler displayed.
 
XIX
My son, if I, Hafiz, thy father, take hold of thy knees in my pain,
Demanding thy name on stamped paper, one day or one hour—refrain.
Are the links of thy fetters so light that thou cravest another man’s chain?
 
Note 1. A skin disease of horses. [back]
Note 2. Lieutenant-Governor. [back]
Note 3. Acacia. [back]
 
 
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