Verse > Rudyard Kipling > Verse: 1885–1918
Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).  Verse: 1885–1918.  1922.
Verses on Games
(To an Almanac of Twelve Sports by W. Nicholson, 1898.)

HERE is a horse to tame
  Here is a gun to handle
God knows you can enter the game
  If you’ll only pay for the same,
And the price of the game is a candle        5
A single flickering candle!
JANUARY  (Hunting)  Certes, it is a noble sport,
  And men have quitted selle and swum for’t.
But I am of the meeker sort
  And I prefer Surtees in comfort.        10
Reach me my Handley Cross again,
  My run, where never danger lurks, is
With Jorrocks and his deathless train—
  Pigg, Binjimin, and Artexerxes.
FEBRUARY  (Coursing)  Most men harry the world for fun—        15
  Each man seeks it a different way,
But “of all daft devils under the sun,
  A greyhound’s the daftest” says Jorrocks J.
MARCH  (Racing)  The horse is ridden—the jockey rides—
  The backers back—the owners own        20
But … there are lots of things beside,
  And I should let this game alone.
APRIL  (Rowing)  The Pope of Rome he could not win
  From pleasant meats and pleasant sin
These who, replying not, submit        25
  Unto the curses of the pit
Which that stern coach (oh, greater shame)
  Flings forth by number not by name.
Can Triple Crown or Jesuit’s oath
Do what one wrathful trainer doth?        30
MAY  (Fishing)  Behold a parable. A fished for B
  C took her bait; her heart being set on D.
Thank heaven who cooled your blood and cramped your wishes,
  Men and not Gods torment you, little fishes!
JUNE  (Cricket)  Thank God who made the British Isles        35
  And taught me how to play,
I do not worship crocodiles,
  Or bow the knee to clay!
Give me a willow wand and I
  With hide and cork and twine        40
From century to century
  Will gambol round my shrine!
JULY  (Archery)  The child of the Nineties considers with laughter
The maid whom his sire in the Sixties ran after,
While careering himself in pursuit of a girl whom        45
The Twenties will dub a “last century heirloom.”
AUGUST  (Coaching)  The Pious Horse to church may trot,
  A maid may work a man’s salvation ….
Four horses and a girl are not,
  However, roads to reformation.        50
SEPTEMBER  (Shooting)  “Peace upon Earth, Goodwill to men”
  So greet we Christmas Day!
Oh, Christian, load your gun and then
  Oh, Christian, out and slay.
OCTOBER  (Golf)  Why Golf is art and art is Golf        55
  We have not far to seek—
So much depends upon the lie,
  So much upon the cleek.
NOVEMBER  (Boxing)  Read here the moral roundly writ
  For him who into battle goes—        60
Each soul that hitting hard or hit,
  Endureth gross or ghostly foes.
  Prince, blown by many overthrows
  Half blind with shame, half choked with dirt
Man cannot tell, but Allah knows        65
  How much the other side was hurt!
DECEMBER  (Skating)  Over the ice she flies
  Perfect and poised and fair.
Stars in my true-love’s eyes
  Teach me to do and dare.        70
Now will I fly as she flies—
  Woe for the stars that misled.
Stars I beheld in her eyes,
  Now do I see in my head!
Now we must come away.        75
  What are you out of pocket?
’Sorry to spoil your play
But somebody says we must pay
  And the candle’s down to the socket
    Its horrible tallowy socket.        80

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