Rudyard Kipling

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Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.

Joseph Rudyard Kipling (30 December 186518 January 1936) was an English short-story writer, poet, novelist and journalist, born in India. In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first English language writer to receive it. He remains, over a century later, its youngest-ever recipient.


  • I've just read that I'm dead. Don't forget to delete me from your list of subscribers.
    • Letter to a magazine that had mistakenly published the announcement of his death.
    • Quoted by: Ashwin Sanghi, 13 STEPS TO BLOODY GOOD LUCK, westland ltd, 2014
  • There is no middle way in this war. We do not doubt our ultimate victory any more than we doubt the justice of our cause.It is not conceivable that we should fail, for if we fail the lights of freedom go out over the whole world. They may glimmer for a little in the western hemisphere,but a Germany dominating half the world by sea and land will most certainly extinguish them in every quarter where they have hitherto shone upon mankind, so that even the traditions of freedom will pass out of remembrance. If we do our duty we shall not fail.
    • Speech at the Dome, Brighton, 7 September 1914. Quoted in "Labor and the War in England" The Literary Digest magazine, September 26, 1914, p. 566-67. Also quoted in Caroline Playne, Society at War, 1914-1916, New York, Houghton Mifflin, 1931.
  • There are only two divisions in the world to-day — human beings and Germans. And the German knows it. Human beings have long ago sickened of him and everything connected with him,of all he does, says, thinks and believes.
    • Speech at Southport, June 22, 1915. Quoted in The New York Times Current History, Volume 2; Volume 4. New York Times Company, 1917. Also quoted in Paul Piazza, Christopher Isherwood: Myth and Anti-Myth. w:Columbia University Press, 2010 (p.217).
  • It's a scientific-cum-sporting murder proposition with enough guns at last to account for the birds, and the Hun is having a very sickly time of it. He has the erroneous idea that he is being hurt, whereas he won't know what real pain means for a long time. I almost begin to hope that when we have done with him there will be very little Hun left.
    • Letter to L. C. Dunsterville, September 1916. Quoted in Lord Birkenhead, Rudyard Kipling. London : Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1978 (p.271).
  • The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is a hard business. If you try it, you'll be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
    • As quoted from “Interview with an Immoral,” Arthur Gordon, Reader’s Digest (July 1959). Reprinted in the Kipling Society journal, “Six Hours with Rudyard Kipling”, Vol. XXXIV. No. 162 (June, 1967) pp. 5-8. Interview took place in June, 1935 [1]
  • "When you write `native, 'who do you mean? The Mahommedan who hates the Hindu; the Hindu who hates the Mahommedan; the Sikh who loathes both; or the semi-anglicised product of our Indian colleges who is hated and despised by Sikh, Hindu and Mahommedan."
  • "the immeasurable gulf that lies between the races in all things, you would see how it comes to pass that the Englishman is prone to despise the natives-(I must use that misleading term for brevity's sake)-and how, except in the matter of trade, to have little or nothing in common with him. ... Now this is a wholly wrong attitude of mind but it's one that a Briton who washes, and don't take bribes, and who thinks of other things besides intrigue and seduction most naturally falls into. When he does, goodbye to his chances of attempting to understand the people of the land."
  • "[T]he proper way to handle 'em is not by looking on 'em `as excitable masses of barbarism' (I speak for the Punjab only) or the `down trodden millions of Ind groaning under the heel of an alien and unsympathetic despotism,' but as men with a language of their own which it is your business to understand; and proverbs which it is your business to quote (this is a land of proverbs) and byewords and allusions which it is your business to master; and feelings which it is your business to enter into and sympathise with."
  • "[16 October 18951: it is my fortune to have been born and to a large extent brought up among those whom white men call `heathen'; and while I recognise the paramount duty of every white man to follow the teachings of his creed and conscience as `a debtor to do the whole law,' it seems to me cruel that white men, whose governments are armed with the most murderous weapons known to science, should amaze and confound their fellow creatures with a doctrine of salvation imperfectly understood by themselves and a code of ethics foreign to the climate and instincts of those races whose most cherished customs they outrage and whose gods they insult."
  • (From Sea to Sea vol. 2, p. 61): "Very many Americans have an offensive habit of referring to natives as `heathen.' Mahommedans and Hindus are heathen alike in their eyes."
  • "[W]e know nothing about their life which touches so intimately the White on the one hand and the Black on the other.... Wanted, therefore, a writer from among the Eurasians, who shall write so that men shall be pleased to read a story of Eurasian life; then outsiders will be interested in the People of India, and will admit that the race has possibilities."
    • quoted in Ibn, W. (2009). Defending the West: A critique of Edward Said's Orientalism. Amherst, N.Y: Prometheus Books.
  • I have eaten your bread and salt.
    I have drunk your water and wine.
    The deaths ye died I have watched beside
    And the lives ye led were mine.
  • I have written the tale of our life
    For a sheltered people's mirth,
    In jesting guise—but ye are wise,
    And ye know what the jest is worth.
    • Prelude Stanza 3.
  • A fool there was and he made his prayer
    (Even as you and I!)
    To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair
    We called her the woman who did not care),
    But the fool he called her his lady fair
    (Even as you and I!)
  • Call a truce, then, to our labours let us feast with friends and neighbours,
    And be merry as the custom of our caste;
    For if “faint and forced the laughter,” and if sadness follow after,
    We are richer by one mocking Christmas past.
  • The toad beneath the harrow knows
    Exactly where each tooth point goes;
    The butterfly upon the road
    Preaches contentment to that toad.
  • And a woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke.
  • A scrimmage in a Border Station—
    A canter down some dark defile—
    Two thousand pounds of education
    Drops to a ten-rupee jezail—
    The Crammer's boast, the Squadron's pride,
    Shot like a rabbit in a ride!
Lord God of Hosts,
be with us yet,
Lest we forget —
lest we forget!
  • God of our fathers, known of old,
    Lord of our far-flung battle line,
    Beneath whose awful hand we hold
    Dominion over palm and pine—
    Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
    Lest we forget—lest we forget!
    • Stanza 1.
  • The tumult and the shouting dies;
    The Captains and the Kings depart;
    Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
    An humble and a contrite heart.
    Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
    Lest we forget—lest we forget!
    • Stanza 2.
  • If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
    Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
    Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
    Or lesser breeds without the Law —
    Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
    Lest we forget—lest we forget!
    • Stanza 4.
  • * For heathen heart that puts her trust
    in reeking tube and iron shard,
    all valiant dust that builds on dust
    and guarding calls not thee to guard
    for frantic boast and foolish word
    thy mercy on thy people lord!
    • Stanza 5.
  • It takes a great deal of Christianity to wipe out uncivilized Eastern instincts, such as falling in love at first sight.
  • The silliest woman can manage a clever man; but it needs a very clever woman to manage a fool!
  • Never praise a sister to a sister, in the hope of your compliments reaching the proper ears, and so preparing the way for you later on. Sisters are women first, and sisters afterwards; and you will find that you do yourself harm.
  • Many religious people are deeply suspicious. They seem—for purely religious purposes, of course—to know more about iniquity than the unregenerate.
  • He did his best to interest the girl in himself—that is to say, his work—and she, after the manner of women, did her best to appear interested in, what behind his back, she called "Mr. Wressley's Wajahs"; for she lisped very prettily. She did not understand one little thing about them, but she acted as if she did. Men have married on that sort of error before now.
  • She read a little of it. I give her review verbatim:—"Oh, your book? It's all about those how-wid Wajahs. I didn't understand it."
    • Wressley of the Foreign Office.
  • India, as everyone knows, is divided equally between jungle, tigers, cobras, cholera, and sepoys
    • 1987. Kipling, R. 'Yoked with an Unbeliever'. In Plain Tales from the Hills . Oxford:Oxford University Press, 1987. Quoted from Malhotra, R., & Infinity Foundation (Princeton, N.J.). (2018). Being different: An Indian challenge to western universalism.
  • East of Suez, some hold, the direct control of Providence ceases; Man being there handed over to the power of the Gods and Devils of Asia, and the Church of England Providence only exercising an occasional and modified supervision in the case of Englishmen.
  • All gods have good points, just as have all priests. Personally, I attach much importance to Hanuman, and am kind to his people—the great gray apes of the hills. One never knows when one may want a friend.
    • The Mark of the Beast.
  • 'Take your friend away. He has done with Hanuman, but Hanuman has not done with him.'
    • The Mark of the Beast.
'Ave you 'eard o' the Widow at Windsor
With a hairy gold crown on 'er 'ead?
She 'as ships on the foam—she 'as millions at 'ome,
An' she pays us poor beggars in red.
  • And oft-times cometh our wise Lord God, master of every trade,
    And tells them tales of His daily toil, of Edens newly made;
    And they rise to their feet as He passes by, gentlemen unafraid.
    • Dedication, Stanza 5.
  • I've taken my fun where I've found it;
    I've rogued an' I've ranged in my time.
  • An' I learned about women from 'er.
    • The Ladies, ending line to Stanzas III, IV, and V.
  • I've taken my fun where I've found it,
    An' now I must pay for my fun,
    For the more you 'ave known o' the others
    The less will you settle to one.
    • The Ladies, Stanza VII.
  • For the colonel's lady an' Judy O'Grady,
    Are sisters under their skins.
    • The Ladies, Stanza VIII.
  • “What are the bugles blowin' for?” said Files-on-Parade.
    “To turn you out, to turn you out”, the Colour-Sergeant said.
  • They've taken of his buttons off an' cut his stripes away,
    An' they're hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'.
    • Danny Deever, Stanza 1.
  • But he couldn't lie if you paid him and he'd starve before he stole.
    • The Mary Gloster.
  • We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
    But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
    An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
    Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints.
  • For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' “Chuck him out, the brute!”
    But it's “Saviour of 'is country” when the guns begin to shoot.
    • Tommy, Stanza 5.
  • So 'ere's to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your 'ome in the Soudan;
    You're a pore benighted 'eathen but a first-class fightin' man.
  • 'E's all 'ot sand an' ginger when alive
    An' 'e's generally shammin' when 'e's dead.
    • Fuzzy-Wuzzy.
  • For you all love the screw-guns the screw-guns they all love you!
    So when we take tea with a few guns, o' course you will know what to do—hoo! hoo!
    Jest send in your Chief an' surrender it's worse if you fights or you runs:
    You may hide in the caves, they'll be only your graves, but you can't get away from the guns!
  • You may talk o' gin and beer
    When you're quartered safe out 'ere,
    An' you're sent to penny-fights an' Aldershot it;
    But when it comes to slaughter
    You will do your work on water,
    An' you'll lick the bloomin' boots of 'im that's got it.
  • So I'll meet 'im later on
    At the place where 'e is gone—
    Where it's always double drill and no canteen.
    'E'll be squattin' on the coals
    Givin' drink to poor damned souls,
    An' I'll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!
    Yes, Din! Din! Din!
    You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!
    Though I've belted you and flayed you,
    By the livin' Gawd that made you,
    You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!
    • Gunga Din, Stanza 5.
  • 'Ave you 'eard o' the Widow at Windsor
    With a hairy gold crown on 'er 'ead?
    She 'as ships on the foam—she 'as millions at 'ome,
    An' she pays us poor beggars in red.
  • When first under fire an' you're wishful to duck,
    Don't look nor take 'eed at the man that is struck,
    Be thankful you're livin', and trust to your luck
    And march to your front like a soldier.
    Front, front, front like a soldier...
  • If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white,
    Remember it's ruin to run from a fight:
    So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
    And wait for supports like a soldier.
    Wait, wait, wait like a soldier...
    • Young British Soldier, Stanza 12.
  • When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
    And the women come out to cut up what remains,
    Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
    An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
    Go, go, go like a soldier,
    Go, go, go like a soldier,
    Go, go, go like a soldier,
    So-oldier of the Queen!
    • Young British Soldier, Stanza 13.
  • Oh the road to Mandalay
    Where the flyin'-fishes play
    An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer
    China 'crost the Bay!
  • By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin' eastward to the sea,
    There's a Burma girl a-settin', and I know she thinks o' me;
    For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say:
    “Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!”
    • Mandalay, Stanza 1.
  • Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
    Where there aren't no Ten Commandments, an' a man can raise a thirst.
    • Mandalay, Stanza 6.
  • To the legion of the lost ones, to the cohort of the damned,
    To my brethren in their sorrow overseas,
    Sings a gentleman of England cleanly bred, machinely crammed,
    And a trooper of the Empress, if you please.
  • We're poor little lambs who've lost our way,
    Baa! Baa! Baa!
    We're little black sheep who've gone astray,
    Gentlemen-rankers out on the spree,
    Damned from here to Eternity,
    God ha' mercy on such as we,
    Baa! Yah! Bah!
    • Gentlemen-Rankers, refrain
  • We have done with Hope and Honour, we are lost to Love and Truth,
    We are dropping down the ladder rung by rung,
    And the measure of our torment is the measure of our youth.
    God help us, for we knew the worst too young!
    • Gentlemen-Rankers, Stanza 4.
  • For to admire an' for to see,
    For to be'old this world so wide—
    It never done no good to me,
    But I can't drop it if I tried!
  • ‘There is none like to me!' says the Cub in the pride of his earliest kill;
    But the jungle is large and the Cub he is small. Let him think and be still.
  • We be of one blood, ye and I.
    • Kaa's Hunting.
  • It is the hardest thing in the world to frighten a mongoose, because he is eaten up from nose to tail with curiosity. The motto of all the mongoose family is “Run and find out,” and Rikki-tikki was a true mongoose.
  • If you read the old books of natural history, you will find they say that when the mongoose fights the snake and happens to get bitten, he runs off and eats some herb that cures him. That is not true. The victory is only a matter of quickness of eye and quickness of foot—snake's blow against mongoose's jump—and as no eye can follow the motion of a snake's head when it strikes, this makes things much more wonderful than any magic herb.
    • Rikki-Tikki-Tavi
Now this is the Law of the Jungle—as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
  • Now this is the Law of the Jungle—as old and as true as the sky;
    And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.

    As the creeper that girdles the tree trunk, the Law runneth forward and back;
    For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.

  • When Pack meets with Pack in the Jungle, and neither will go from the trail,
    Lie down till the leaders have spoken—it may be fair words shall prevail.
    • The Law of the Jungle, Stanza 6.
  • Now these are the Laws of the jungle, and many and mighty are they;
    But the head and the hoof of the Law and the haunch and the hump is—Obey!
    • The Law of the Jungle, Stanza 19.

If— (1896)

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run...
Online text at Wikisource
Audio version, on Youtube
  • If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
    And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise

    If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two imposters just the same

    If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss

    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the will which says to them: "Hold on!"

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
    And—which is more—you'll be a Man, my son!
We have fed our sea for a thousand years
And she calls us, still unfed...
  • We have fed our sea for a thousand years
    And she calls us, still unfed,
    Though there's never a wave of all her waves
    But marks our English dead.
  • They change their skies above them,
    But not their hearts that roam!
  • The Liner she's a lady, an' she never looks nor 'eeds—
    The Man-o'-War's 'er 'usband, an' 'e gives 'er all she needs;
    But, oh, the little cargo-boats, that sail the wet seas roun',
    They're just the same as you an' me a-plyin' up an' down!
  • There's a Legion that never was 'listed,
    That carries no colours or crest,
    But, split in a thousand detachments,
    Is breaking the road for the rest.
There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays,
And every single one of them is right!
  • But my Totem saw the shame; from his ridgepole shrine he came,
    And he told me in a vision of the night:—
    There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays,
    And every single one of them is right!
  • For 'im that doth not work must surely die;
    But that's no reason man should labour all
    'Is life on one same shift—life's none so long.
  • It's like a book, I think, this bloomin' world,
    Which you can read and care for just so long,
    But presently you feel that you will die
    Unless you get the page you're readin' done,
    An' turn another—likely not so good;
    But what you're after is to turn 'em all.
    • Sestina of the Tramp-Royal, Stanza 6.
  • Back to the Army again, sergeant,
    Back to the Army again:
    Out o' the cold an' the rain, sergeant,
    Out o' the cold an' the rain.
  • I've taken my fun where I've found it;
    I've rogued an' I've ranged in my time;
    I've 'ad my pickin' o' sweet'earts,
    An' four o' the lot was prime.
    One was an 'arf-caste widow,
    One was a woman at Prome,
    One was the wife of a jemadar-sais,
    An' one is a girl at 'ome.
  • When Earth's last picture is painted and the tubes are twisted and dried,
    When the oldest colours have faded, and the youngest critic has died,
    We shall rest, and, faith, we shall need it—lie down for an aeon or two,
    Till the Master of All Good Workmen shall put us to work anew!
Each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star,
Shall draw the Thing as he sees It for the God of Things as They Are!
  • And only the Master shall praise us, and only the Master shall blame;
    And no one shall work for money, and no one shall work for fame,
    But each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star,
    Shall draw the Thing as he sees It for the God of Things as They Are!
  • Take up the White Man's burden-- Send forth the best ye breed-- Go bind your sons to exile, To serve your captives' need; To wait in heavy harness, On fluttered folk and wild-- Your new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half-child. The White Man's Burden, Stanza 1 (1899).
  • Take up the White Man's burden-- In patience to abide, To veil the threat of terror, And check the show of pride; By open speech and simple, An hundred times made plain To seek another's profit, And work another's gain. The White Man's Burden, Stanza 2 (1899).
  • When you've shouted "Rule Brittania": when you've sung "God Save the Queen,"
    When you've finished killing Kruger with your mouth,
    Will you kindly drop a shilling in my little tambourine
    For a gentleman in khaki headed South?
  • When the cabin port-holes are dark and green
    Because of the seas outside;
    When the ship goes wop (with a wiggle between)
    And the steward falls into the soup-tureen,
    And the trunks begin to slide;
    When Nursey lies on the floor in a heap,
    And Mummy tells you to let her sleep,
    And you aren't waked or washed or dressed,
    Why, then you will know (if you haven't guessed)
    You're ‘Fifty North and Forty West!'
  • I keep six honest serving-men:
    (They taught me all I knew)
    Their names are What and Where and When
    And How and Why and Who.
Ye know who use the Crystal Ball
⁠(To peer by stealth on Doom),
⁠The Shade that, shaping first of all,
⁠⁠Prepares an empty room.
Full text at Wikisource: The Five Nations
  • Before the years reborn behold
    ⁠Themselves with stranger eye,
    ⁠And the sport-making Gods of old,
    ⁠Like Samson slaying, die,
    ⁠⁠Many shall hear
    ⁠⁠The all-pregnant sphere,
    ⁠Bow to the birth and sweat, but — speech denied —
    ⁠Sit dumb or — dealt in part — fall weak and wide.
    • "Dedication"
  • Yet instant to fore-shadowed need
    ⁠The eternal balance swings;
    ⁠That winged men the Fates may breed
    ⁠So soon as Fate hath wings.
    ⁠⁠These shall possess
    ⁠⁠Our littleness,
    ⁠And in the imperial task (as worthy) lay
    ⁠Up our lives' all to piece one giant day.
    • "Dedication"
  • She has no strong white arms to fold you,
    But the ten-times-fingering weed to hold you—
    Out on the rocks where the tide has rolled you.
Out of the spent and unconsidered Earth,
The Cities rise again.
  • Cities and Thrones and Powers,
    Stand in Time's eye,
    Almost as long as flowers,
    Which daily die:
    But, as new buds put forth
    To glad new men,
    Out of the spent and unconsidered Earth,
    The Cities rise again.
  • Five and twenty ponies
    Trotting through the dark—
    Brandy for the Parson,
    'Baccy for the Clerk.
    Them that asks no questions isn't told a lie—
    Watch the wall, my darling, while the gentlemen go by!
  • Of all the trees that grow so fair,
    Old England to adorn,
    Greater are none beneath the Sun,
    Than Oak, and Ash, and Thorn.
  • Take of English earth as much
    As either hand may rightly clutch.
    In the taking of it breathe
    Prayer for all who lie beneath.

Epitaphs of the War (1914-1918) (1918)

If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.
From little towns in a far land we came,
To save our honour and a world aflame.
By little towns in a far land we sleep,
And trust the world we won for you to keep.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?
  • If any question why we died,
    Tell them, because our fathers lied.
    • Common Form
  • Body and spirit I surrendered whole
    To harsh instructors—and received a soul...
    If mortal man could change me through and through
    From all I was—What may the God not do?
    • The Wonder
  • This man in his own country prayed we know not to what powers.
    We pray them to reward him for his bravery in ours.
    • Hindu Sepoy in France
  • From little towns in a far land we came,
    To save our honour and a world aflame.
    By little towns in a far land we sleep,
    And trust the world we won for you to keep.
    • Canadian Memorial (2)
  • I could not dig: I dared not rob:
    Therefore I lied to please the mob.

    Now all my lies are proved untrue
    And I must face the men I slew.
    What tale shall serve me here among
    Mine angry and defrauded young?
    • A Dead Statesman

Other works

  • But that's another story.
    • Soldiers Three, The Story of the Gadsbys, In Black and White (1888).
  • Being kissed by a man who didn't wax his moustache was like eating an egg without salt.
    • The Story of the Gadsbys (1888), "Poor Dear Mamma".
  • In the flush of the hot June prime,
    O'ersleek flood-tides afire,
    I hear him hurry the chime
    To the bidding of checked Desire;
    Till the sweated ringers tire
    And the wild bob-majors die.
    Could I wait for my turn in the godly choir?
    (Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I!
  • Men and women may sometimes, after great effort, achieve a creditable lie; but the house, which is their temple, cannot say anything save the truth of those who have lived in it.
    • "They," published in Traffics and Discoveries (1904)
  • Enough work to do, and strength enough to do the work.
    • A Doctor's Work, an address at Middlesex Hospital (October 1908).
  • Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
  • For undemocratic reasons and for motives not of State,
    They arrive at their conclusions—largely inarticulate.
    Being void of self-expression they confide their views to none:
    But sometimes in a smoking-room, one learns why things were done.
  • For all we have and are,
    For all our children's fate,
    Stand up and take the war.
    The Hun is at the gate!
No easy hope or lies
Shall bring us to our goal,
But iron sacrifice
Of body, will, and soul.
  • No easy hope or lies
    Shall bring us to our goal,
    But iron sacrifice
    Of body, will, and soul.

    There is but one task for all—
    One life for each to give.
    What stands if Freedom fall?
    Who dies if England live?
    • For All We Have and Are, Stanza 4.
  • As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
    I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market-Place.

    Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.
  • Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.
    • Speech, quoted in The Times (February 15, 1923).
  • Never again will I spend another winter in this accursed Bucket shop|bucketshop of a refrigerator called England.
    • Letter to Sidney Colvin (1928).
  • A people always ends by resembling its shadow.
    • Said to author and critic André Maurois c. 1930, on the subject of the transformation of Germany.
    • Quoted in Maurois, The Art of Writing, “The Writer's Craft,” sct. 2 (1960).
  • When your Daemon is in charge, do not try to think consciously. Drift, wait, and obey.
    • Something of Myself for My Friends Known and Unknown, ch. 8 (1937).
  • There be triple ways to take, of the eagle or the snake,
    Or the way of a man with a maid
    But the fairest way to me is a ship's upon the sea
    In the heel of the North-East Trade.
  • Oh, Adam was a gardener, and God who made him sees
    That half a proper gardener's work is done upon his knees,
    So when your work is finished, you can wash your hands and pray
    For the Glory of the Garden that it may not pass away!
  • Father, Mother, and Me,
    Sister and Auntie say
    All the people like us are We,
    And every one else is They.
  • We and They, Stanza 1.
  • Now I possess and am possessed of the land where I would be,
    And the curve of half Earth's generous breast shall soothe and ravish me!
Be humble, as you crawl beneath our rods!—
Our touch can alter all created things,
We are everything on earth—except The Gods!
  • But remember, please, the Law by which we live,
    We are not built to comprehend a lie,
    We can neither love nor pity nor forgive,
    If you make a slip in handling us you die!

    We are greater than the Peoples or the Kings—
    Be humble, as you crawl beneath our rods!—
    Our touch can alter all created things,
    We are everything on earth—except The Gods!
  • Though our smoke may hide the Heavens from your eyes,
    It will vanish and the stars will shine again,
    Because, for all our power and weight and size,
    We are nothing more than children of your brain!
    • The Secret of the Machines, Stanza 8.
  • There rise her timeless capitals of Empires daily born,
    Whose plinths are laid at midnight, and whose streets are packed at morn;
    And here come hired youths and maids that feign to love or sin
    In tones like rusty razor-blades to tunes like smitten tin.
  • More men are killed by overwork than the importance of the world justifies.
Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet...
  • Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
    Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;

    But there is neither East nor West, border, nor breed, nor birth,
    When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!
  • When the flush of a new-born sun fell first on Eden's green and gold,
    Our father Adam sat under the Tree and scratched with a stick in the mould;
    And the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart,
    Till the Devil whispered behind the leaves, “It's pretty, but is it Art?”
  • We know that the tail must wag the dog, for the horse is drawn by the cart;
    But the Devil whoops, as he whooped of old: “It's clever, but is it Art?”
    • The Conundrum of the Workshops, Stanza 6.
  • Bite on the bullet, old man, and don't let them think you're afraid.
  • San Francisco is a mad city—inhabited for the most part by perfectly insane people, whose women are of a remarkable beauty.
Asia is not going to be civilised after the methods of the West. There is too much Asia and she is too old.
  • Asia is not going to be civilised after the methods of the West. There is too much Asia and she is too old.
  • Winds of the World, give answer! They are whimpering to and fro—
    And what should they know of England who only England know?
  • “Stand up, stand up now, Tomlinson, and answer loud and high
    “The good that ye did for the sake of men or ever ye came to die—
    “The good that ye did for the sake of men in little earth so lone!”
    And the naked soul of Tomlinson grew white as a rain-washed bone.
  • “Go back to Earth with a lip unsealed—go back with an open eye,
    “And carry my word to the Sons of Men or ever ye come to die:
    “That the sin they do by two and two they must pay for one by one—
    “And the God that you took from a printed book be with you, Tomlinson!”
    • Tomlinson, l. 58-61.
  • If I were damned of body and soul,
    I know whose prayers would make me whole,
    Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine.
When Earth's last picture is painted and the tubes are twisted and dried...
  • Now it is not good for the Christian's health to hustle the Aryan brown,
    For the Christian riles, and the Aryan smiles and he weareth the Christian down;
    And the end of the fight is a tombstone white, with the name of the late deceased,
    And the epitaph drear: "A fool lies here who tried to hustle the East."
  • Ever the wide world over, lass,
    Ever the trail held true,
    Over the world and under the world,
    And back at the last to you.
  • When next he came to me he was drunk—royally drunk on many poets for the first time revealed to him. His pupils were dilated, his words tumbled over each other, and he wrapped himself in quotations—as a beggar would enfold himself in the purple of emperors.
  • We pulled for you when the wind was against us and the sails were low.
    Will you never let us go?
  • When 'Omer smote 'is bloomin' lyre,
    He'd 'eard men sing by land an' sea;
    An' what he thought 'e might require,
    'E went an' took—the same as me!
  • A Nation spoke to a Nation,
    A Queen sent word to a Throne:
    ‘Daughter am I in my mother's house,
    But mistress in my own.
    The gates are mine to open,
    As the gates are mine to close,
    And I set my house in order,'
    Said our Lady of the Snows.
  • Take up the White Man's burden—
    Send forth the best ye breed—
    Go bind your sons to exile
    To serve your captives' need.
  • Let us admit it fairly, as a business people should,
    We have had no end of a lesson: it will do us no end of good.
  • It was our fault, and our very great fault—and now we must turn it to use.
    We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse.
  • “True. True talk,” said Kim solemnly. “Fools speak of a cat when a woman is brought to bed, for instance. I have heard them.”
    • Kim, Chapter 8 (1901).
  • And what did ye look they should compass?
    Warcraft learned in a breath,
    Knowledge unto occasion at the first far view of Death?
    So? And ye train your horses and the dogs ye feed and prize?
    How are the beasts more worthy than the souls, your sacrifice?
    But ye said, “Their valour shall show them”; but ye said, “The end is close.”
    And ye sent them comfits and pictures to help them harry your foes:
    And ye vaunted your fathomless power, and ye flaunted your iron pride,
    Ere—ye fawned on the Younger Nations for the men who could shoot and ride!
    Then ye returned to your trinkets; then ye contented your souls
    With the flannelled fools at the wicket or the muddied oafs at the goals.
God gave all men all earth to love,
But since our hearts are small,
Ordained for each one spot should prove
Belovèd over all.
  • Men, not children or servants, tempered and taught to the end;
    Cleansed of servile panic, slow to dread or despise,
    Humble because of knowledge, mighty by sacrifice.
    • The Islanders, l. 55-57.
  • God gave all men all earth to love,
    But since our hearts are small,
    Ordained for each one spot should prove
    Belovèd over all.
  • Who hath desired the Sea?—the sight of salt water unbounded—
    The heave and the halt and the hurl and the crash of the comber wind-hounded?
  • Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges—
    Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!
  • Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin' up and down again!
    There's no discharge in the war!
  • That's the secret. 'Tisn't beauty, so to speak, nor good talk necessarily. It's just It. Some women'll stay in a man's memory if they once walk down a street.
  • I speak now from my home and from my heart to you all; to men and women so cut off by the snows, the desert, or the sea, that only voices out of the air can reach them.
  • ... scandals are only increased by hushing them up.
    • The Gardener (1925) .
  • ... it's always best to tell the truth.
    • The Gardener (1925) .
  • Fiction is Truth's elder sister. Obviously. No one in the world knew what truth was till some one had told a story.
    • "Fiction", speech to the Royal Society of Literature, June 1926; published in Writings on Writing: Rudyard Kipling (1996), ed. Sandra Kemp and Lisa Lewis, p. 80

Quotes about Kipling

  • His poems in their quantity, their limitation to one feeling at a time, have the air of brilliant tactical improvisations to overcome sudden unforeseen obstacles, as if, for Kipling, experience were not a seed to cultivate patiently and lovingly, but an unending stream of dangerous feelings to be immediately mastered as they appear.
    • W. H. Auden, Forewords and Afterwords, New York : Random House, 1973.
  • I can think of a number of poets who have written great poetry, only of a very few whom I should call great verse writers. And unless I am mistaken, Kipling's position in this class is not only high but unique.
    • T.S. Eliot, "In Praise of Kipling's Verse," Harper's Magazine, June-November 1942, p. 157.
  • Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius (as distinct from fine intelligence) that I have ever known.
    • Henry James, letter to his brother William James (6 February 1892), quoted in Kipling: The Critical Heritage (1971), ed. R. L. Green, p. 68
  • Mr. Rudyard Kipling is distinguished above all things for his imperialistic views. Altho he has literary qualifications of the highest merit, it is to be regretted that he has devoted them to the propagation of warlike ideas and exhibited a most barbarous spirit of chauvinism during the Boer War.
  • There are certain writers-Kipling is a very good case in point-he is an embarrassment partly because of his politics, but also partly because his greatest books are for children. Kim is a child's book. It is and it isn't. I read it first at ten, and I've read it ever since. But Kipling is not really a novelist, is he? He's a tale-teller, and he doesn't fit in the canon any more than Tolkien does, for different reasons. I think you might find other writers like that. Of course, Kipling's subjects are often exotic, they're not the ordinary subjects of literature, he personifies ships, his tales partake of fantasy and science fiction and all kinds of things. He didn't write within the realist canon. His stuff was odd. There are writers whom we don't think of as "paraliterary" writers, but who have suffered nearly as much from ignorance or neglect or our inability to know how to criticize them, which I think is one of the main problems...
  • Vladimir Nabokov-to me, his is not a good prose style...But then a writer like Kipling comes to mind, whose style is very idiosyncratic, rather strange, and, particularly in his finest things, in some of the children's books, is deliberately rather splendid and very rhythmical and totally oral. I love it.
  • The social attitudes of an author writing about animals always emerge with exceptional clarity. Kipling's stories are imperialistic, his mongoose belongs to the white man, it is the Englishman's servant. Only a European with a highly developed sense of his own responsibility toward life, with a cautious and aroused conscience, could write animal stories in the style of Pergaud. The weasel, the crow, and the magpie are his heroes. They serve no one, instead they introduce us to the basic tenors and joys of existence.
    • Osip Mandelstam LOUIS PERGAUD: STORIES FROM THE LIVES OF ANIMALS translated into English in The complete critical prose (1997)
  • Mr. Kipling's world is a barrack full of oaths and clatter of sabres ; but his language is copious, rich, sonorous. One is tempted to say that none since the Elizabethans has written so copiously. Others have written more beautifully, but no one that I can call to mind at this moment has written so copiously. Shelley and Wordsworth, Landor and Pater, wrote with part of the language; but who else, except Whitman, has written with the whole language since the Elizabethans?
  • Kipling is a jingo imperialist, he is morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting. It is better to start by admitting that, and then to try to find out why it is that he survives while the refined people who have sniggered at him seem to wear so badly.
  • In the stupid early years of this century, the blimps, having at last discovered someone who could be called a poet and who was on their side, set Kipling on a pedestal, and some of his more sententious poems, such as ‘If’, were given almost biblical status. But it is doubtful whether the blimps have ever read him with attention, any more than they have read the Bible. Much of what he says they could not possibly approve. Few people who have criticized England from the inside have said bitterer things about her than this gutter patriot.
  • Kipling is the only English writer of our time who has added phrases to the language.
  • Kipling has done more than any other since Disraeli to show the world that the British race is sound at core and that rust or dry rot are strangers to it.
    • Cecil Rhodes, quoted in J. G. McDonald, Rhodes: A Life. Geoffrey Bles, 1934
  • He [Kipling] is a stranger to me, but he is a most remarkable man — and I am the other one. Between us, we cover all knowledge; he knows all that can be known and I know the rest.
    • Mark Twain, Mark Twain, a Biography : the Personal and Literary Life of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, edited by Albert Bigelow Paine, Harper, 1935.
  • ...still more would I like to know about the brain history of Mr. Rudyard Kipling, whom also I have never met. He is to me the most incomprehensible of my contemporaries, with phases of real largeness and splendour and lapses to the quality of those mucky little sadists, Stalky and Co. ... He has an immense vogue in the British middle-class and upper-class home ; he is the patron saint of cadet corps masters, an inexhaustive fount of sham manly sentiment, and one of the most potent forces in the shrivelling of the British political imagination during the past third of a century.
    • H. G. Wells, Experiment In Autobiography, Chapter 9. Victor Gollancz, 1934.
  • Kipling... brought a sense of religious destiny back into a disorganized world. He was able, in fact, to render an immense service to his age, and it is no wonder that in his later years, when it became apparent that that age had passed forever,he refused to recognize the change, and raised a disgruntled pretense that nothing was happening save an outburst of misconduct on the part of the intellectuals and the lower classes. It is no wonder that he should want to do so, human nature being as frail as it is; but it is surprising that the writer of the masterpiece Kim should have found himself able to do so.
    • Rebecca West, "Rudyard Kipling", The New Statesman, January 1936. Reprinted in Rebecca West: A Celebration, Penguin Books, 1978.
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