Andrew Lansdown

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Rudyard Kipling

Two poems by Rudyard Kipling:

1. The Four Angels

2. If

 

The Four Angels

 

As Adam lay a-dreaming beneath the Apple Tree
The Angel of the Earth came down, and offered Earth in fee;
  But Adam did not need it,
  Nor the plough he would not speed it,
Singing:—“Earth and Water, Air and Fire,
  What more can mortal man desire?”
    (The Apple Tree’s in bud.)

 

As Adam lay a-dreaming beneath the Apple Tree
The Angel of the Waters offered all the Seas in fee;
  But Adam would not take ’em,
  Nor the ships he wouldn’t make ’em,
Singing:—“Water, Earth and Air and Fire,
  What more can mortal man desire? “
    (The Apple Tree’s in leaf.)

 
As Adam lay a-dreaming beneath the Apple Tree
The Angel of the Air he offered all the Air in fee;
  But Adam did not crave it,
  Nor the flight he wouldn’t brave it,
Singing:—“Air and Water, Earth and Fire,
  What more can mortal man desire?”
    (The Apple Tree’s in bloom.)
 
As Adam lay a-dreaming beneath the Apple Tree
The Angel of the Fire rose up and not a word said he;
  But he wished a flame and made it,
  And in Adam’s heart he laid it,
Singing:—“Fire, Fire, burning Fire!
  Stand up, and reach your heart’s desire!”
    (The Apple Blossom’s set.)
 
As Adam was a-working outside of Eden-Wall,
He used the Earth, he used the Seas, he used the Air and all;
  Till out of black disaster
  He arose to be a master
Of Earth and Water, Air and Fire,
  But never reached his heart’s desire!
    (The Apple Tree’s cut down!)
 
                      Rudyard Kipling

 

[Note: Folk singer/songwriter Marin Simpson renders this poem in song on his excellent CD, The Bramble Briar.]

 

 

 

 

If

 

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 impostors 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!

 

Rudyard Kipling

 

[Note: Vin Garbutt composed an interesting tune for this poem on his controversial 1983 album, Little Innocents.]

 

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