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Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

The Totem

"The Tie"
From "Limits and Renewals" (1932)
Ere the mother's milk had dried
  On my lips, the Brethren came--
Tore me from my nurse's side,
  And bestowed on me a name

Infamously overtrue--
  Such as "Bunny," "Stinker," "Podge";--
But, whatever I should do,
  Mine for ever in the Lodge.

Then they taught with palm and toe--
  Then I learned with yelps and tears--
All the Armoured Man should know
  Through his Seven Secret Years...

Last, oppressing as oppressed,
  I was loosed to go my ways
With a Totem on my breast
  Governing my nights and days--

Ancient and unbribeable,
  By the virtue of its Name--
Which, however oft I fell,
  Lashed me back into The Game.

And the World, that never knew,
  Saw no more beneath my chin
Than a patch of rainbow-hue,
  Mixed as Life and crude as Sin.

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