Rudyard Kipling

Mowgli's Song

The Song of Mowgli -- I, Mowgli, am singing. Let the jungle listen to the things I have done. Shere Khan said he would kill -- would kill! At the gates in the twilight he would kill Mowgli, the Frog! He ate and he drank. Drink deep, Shere Khan, for when wilt thou drink again? Sleep and dream of the kill. I am alone on the grazing-grounds. Gray Brother, come to me! Come to me, Lone Wolf, for there is big game afoot. Bring up the great bull-buffaloes, the blue-skinned herd-bulls with the angry eyes. Drive them to and fro as I order. Sleepest thou still, Shere Khan? Wake, O wake! Here come I, and the bulls are behind. Rama, the King of the Buffaloes, stamped with his foot. Waters of the Waingunga, whither went Shere Khan? He is not Ikki to dig holes, nor Mao, the Peacock, that he should fly. He is not Mang, the Bat, to hang in the branches. Little bamboos that creak to- gether, tell me where he ran? Ow! He is there. Ahoo! He is there. Under the feet of Rama lies the Lame One! Up, Shere Khan! Up and kill! Here is meat; break the necks of the bulls! Hsh! He is asleep. We will not wake him, for his strength is very great. The kites have come down to see it. The black ants have come up to know it. There is a great assembly in his honour. Alala! I have no cloth to wrap me. The kites will see that I am naked. I am ashamed to meet all these people. Lend me thy coat, Shere Khan. Lend me thy gay striped coat that I may go to the Council Rock. By the Bull that bought me I have made a promise -- a little promise. Only thy coat is lacking before I keep my word. With the knife -- with the knife that men use -- with the knife of the hunter, the man, I will stoop down for my gift. Waters of the Waingunga, bear witness that Shere Khan gives me his coat for the love that he bears me. Pull, Gray Brother! Pull, Akela! Heavy is the hide of Shere Khan. The Man Pack are angry. They throw stones and talk child's talk. My mouth is bleeding. Let us run away. Through the night, through the hot night, run swiftly with me, my brothers. We will leave the lights of the village and go to the low moon. Waters of the Waingunga, the Man Pack have cast me out. I did them no harm, but they were afraid of me. Why? Wolf Pack, ye have cast me out too. The jungle is shut to me and the village gates are shut. Why? As Mang flies between the beasts and the birds so fly I between the village and the jungle. Why? I dance on the hide of Shere Khan, but my heart is very heavy. My mouth is cut and wounded with the stones from the village, but my heart is very light because I have come back to the jungle. Why? These two things fight together in me as the snakes fight in the spring. The water comes out of my eyes; yet I laugh while it falls. Why? I am two Mowglis, but the hide of Shere Khan is under my feet. All the jungle knows that I have killed Shere Khan. Look -- look well, O Wolves! Ahae! My heart is heavy with the things that I do not understand. Oh! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us, And black are the waters that sparkled so green. The moon, o'er the combers, looks downward to find us At rest in the hollows that rustle between. Where billow meets billow, there soft be thy pillow; Ah, weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease! The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee, Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas.

from the Jungle Book
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