Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936). Verse: 1885–1918. 1922.
For things are running crossways, and Maggie and I are out.
And I know she is exacting, and she says I am a brute.
In the soft blue veil of the vapour musing on Maggie’s face.
But the prettiest cheeks must wrinkle, the truest of loves must pass.
But the best cigar in an hour is finished and thrown away—
But I could not throw away Maggie for fear o’ the talk o’ the town!
With never another Maggie to purchase for love or gold!
And Love’s torch stinking and stale, like the butt of a dead cigar—
With never a new one to light tho’ it’s charred and black to the socket!
Here is a mild Manilla—there is a wifely smile.
Or a harem of dusky beauties fifty tied in a string?
And never a one of the fifty to sneer at a rival bride?
Peace in the hush of the twilight, balm ere my eyelids close,
With only a Suttee’s passion—to do their duty and burn.
Five times other fifties shall be my servants instead.
When they hear my harem is empty will send me my brides again.
So long as the gulls are nesting, so long as the showers fall.
And the Moor and the Mormon shall envy who read of the tale of my brides.
The wee little whimpering Love and the great god Nick o’ Teen.
But I have been Priest of Cabanas a matter of seven year;
Of stumps that I burned to Friendship and Pleasure and Work and Fight.
But the only light on the marshes is the Will-o’-the-Wisp of Love.
Since a puff of tobacco can cloud it, shall I follow the fitful fire?
Old friends, and who is Maggie that I should abandon you?
And a woman is only a woman, but a good Cigar is a Smoke.
If Maggie will have no rival, I’ll have no Maggie for Spouse!