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Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

Mowgli's Song

THAT HE SANG AT THE COUNCIL ROCK WHEN HE DANCED ON SHERE KHAN'S HIDE
(From The Jungle Book)


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.

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