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Outsong in the Jungle -- Rudyard Kipling

Guest poem submitted by Ravi Mundoli:
(Poem #700) Outsong in the Jungle
 [Baloo:] For the sake of him who showed
 One wise Frog the Jungle-Road,
 Keep the Law the Man-Pack make
 For thy blind old Baloo's sake!
 Clean or tainted, hot or stale,
 Hold it as it were the Trail,
 Through the day and through the night,
 Questing neither left nor right.
 For the sake of him who loves
 Thee beyond all else that moves,
 When thy Pack would make thee pain,
 Say: "Tabaqui sings again."
 When thy Pack would work thee ill,
 Say: "Shere Khan is yet to kill."
 When the knife is drawn to slay,
 Keep the Law and go thy way.
   (Root and honey, palm and spathe,
   Guard a cub from harm and scathe!)

   Wood and Water, Wind and Tree,
   Jungle-Favour go with thee!

 [Kaa:] Anger is the egg of Fear--
 Only lidless eyes see clear.
 Cobra-poison none may leech--
 Even so with Cobra-speech.
 Open talk shall call to thee
 Strength, whose mate is Courtesy.
 Send no lunge beyond thy length.
 Lend no rotten bough thy strength.
 Gauge thy gape with buck or goat,
 Lest thine eye should choke thy throat.
 After gorging, wouldst thou sleep ?
 Look thy den be hid and deep,
 Lest a wrong, by thee forgot,
 Draw thy killer to the spot.
 East and West and North and South,
 Wash thy hide and close thy mouth.
   (Pit and rift and blue pool-brim,
   Middle-Jungle follow him!)

   Wood and Water, Wind and Tree,
   Jungle-Favour go with thee!

 [Bagheera:] In the cage my life began;
 Well I know the worth of Man.
 By the Broken Lock that freed--
 Man-cub, ware the Man-cub's breed!
 Scenting-dew or starlight pale,
 Choose no tangled tree-cat trail.
 Pack or council, hunt or den,
 Cry no truce with Jackal-Men.
 Feed them silence when they say:
 "Come with us an easy way."
 Feed them silence when they seek
 Help of thine to hurt the weak.
 Make no bandar's boast of skill;
 Hold thy peace above the kill.
 Let nor call nor song nor sign
 Turn thee from thy hunting-line.
   (Morning mist or twilight clear,
   Serve him, Wardens of the Deer!)

   Wood and Water, Wind and Tree,
   Jungle-Favour go with thee!

 [The Three:] On the trail that thou must tread
 To the threshold of our dread,
 Where the Flower blossoms red;
 Through the nights when thou shalt lie
 Prisoned from our Mother-sky,
 Hearing us, thy loves, go by;
 In the dawns when thou shalt wake
 To the toil thou canst not break,
 Heartsick for the Jungle's sake;
   Wood and Water, Wind air Tree,
   Wisdom, Strength, and Courtesy,
   Jungle-Favour go with thee!
-- Rudyard Kipling
This is a poemsong by Kipling. It's from "The Jungle Books" and is sung by
Mowgli's friends as he prepares to leave the jungle and return to the
man-pack in "The Spring Running".

Things that are nice:

1. Most of Kipling's stuff rhymes nicely, you can chant them as much as you
can read them.

2. Mowgli gets advice from 3 friends, from their own unique perspective. The
advice is perfectly in tune with their characters. Baloo, says idealistic
and sentimental things, advises him to be "good" in life, just like the
teacher-friend-advisor he is; Kaa provides a lot more worldly-wise advice
and Bagheera is a balance between the other two.

3. The message is related to the context of the three creatures, and this
point is hammered in the next-to-penultimate and next-to-next-to-penultimate
lines.

Baloo:
(Root and honey, palm and spathe,
Guard a cub from harm and scathe!)

Kaa:
(Pit and rift and blue pool-brim,
Middle-Jungle follow him!)

Bagheera:
(Morning mist or twilight clear,
Serve him, Wardens of the Deer!)

4. The last two lines in each stanza are italicized, and common to all
three. A sense of urgency or importance, and unity.

5. And finally, the chorus is once again a united statement. Come to think
of it, it's quite moving - especially if you've read the books and
understand Mowgli's life amongst his friends. There's a feel of a sort of
"farewell party", the kind that happened to some of us when we left our
homes and hostels etc.; when our old friends gave us advice and wished us
well as we started on something new.

Personally, this poem is about a billion times better than such sentimental
hogwash as "If".

Ooops. I've already said too much.

Ravi.

[Minstrels Links]

Rudyard Kipling has featured quite regularly on the Minstrels; see
[broken link] http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/index_poet.html
for a comprehensive index.

Many of Kipling's poems first featured in his books; for example:

Poem #166, "Night-Song in the Jungle", is from the Jungle Book.

Poem #143, "Harp Song of the Dane Women", and Poem #493, "A Pict Song", are
both from "Puck of Pook's Hill".

Poem #379, "The Buddha at Kamakura", is from "Kim".

9 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

nisha george said...

Ravi mundoli /Thomas
> Personally, this poem is about a billion times better than such
> sentimental hogwash as "If".

I agree!! there's osmething extremely regal about those poems from jungle
book! There's another one called'Law of the jungle'?! "for this is the law
of the jungle , as old and as true as the sword..(?) the wolf that shall
keep it may prosper and the wolf that will break it must die..............'

nisha george

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much. My husband, now deceased, who was a great fan of the Jungle Books and Kim, used to quote, "Feed them silence when they say - " I was trying to track down the quote which I knew was Kipling. I am very grateful that you helped me to locate it.

Anonymous said...

I will add to my previous comment, that I discover another favorite quote of my husband in this selection. It is,"anger is the egg of Fear -- Only lidless eyes are clear."

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