Rudyard Kipling

La Nuit Blanche

A much-discerning Public hold The Singer generally sings And prints and sells his past for gold. Whatever I may here disclaim, The very clever folk I sing to Will most indubitably cling to Their pet delusion, just the same. I had seen, as the dawn was breaking And I staggered to my rest, Tari Devi softly shaking From the Cart Road to the crest. I had seen the spurs of Jakko Heave and quiver, swell and sink. Was it Earthquake or tobacco, Day of Doom, or Night of Drink? In the full, fresh fragrant morning I observed a camel crawl, Laws of gravitation scorning, On the ceiling and the wall; Then I watched a fender walking, And I heard grey leeches sing, And a red-hot monkey talking Did not seem the proper thing. Then a Creature, skinned and crimson, Ran about the floor and cried, And they said that I had the "jims" on, And they dosed me with bromide, And they locked me in my bedroom -- Me and one wee Blood Red Mouse -- Though I said: "To give my head room You had best unroof the house." But my words were all unheeded, Though I told the grave M.D. That the treatment really needed Was a dip in open sea That was lapping just below me, Smooth as silver, white as snow, And it took three men to throw me When I found I could not go. Half the night I watched the Heavens Fizz like '81 champagne -- Fly to sixes and to sevens, Wheel and thunder back again; And when all was peace and order Save one planet nailed askew, Much I wept because my warder Would not let me sit it true. After frenzied hours of wating, When the Earth and Skies were dumb, Pealed an awful voice dictating An interminable sum, Changing to a tangle story -- "What she said you said I said" -- Till the Moon arose in glory, And I found her . . . in my head; Then a Face came, blind and weeping, And It couldn't wipe its eyes, And It muttered I was keeping Back the moonlight from the skies; So I patted it for pity, But it whistled shrill with wrath, And a huge black Devil City Poured its peoples on my path. So I fled with steps uncertain On a thousand-year long race, But the bellying of the curtain Kept me always in one place; While the tumult rose and maddened To the roar of Earth on fire, Ere it ebbed and sank and saddened To a whisper tense as wire. In tolerable stillness Rose one little, little star, And it chuckled at my illness, And it mocked me from afar; And its breathren came and eyed me, Called the Universe to aid, Till I lay, with naught to hide me, 'Neath' the Scorn of All Things Made. Dun and saffron, robed and splendid, Broke the solemn, pitying Day, And I knew my pains were ended, And I turned and tried to pray; But my speech was shattered wholly, And I wept as children weep. Till the dawn-wind, softly, slowly, Brought to burning eyelids sleep.

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