Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CHRISTMAS IN INDIA, by RUDYARD KIPLING



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CHRISTMAS IN INDIA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Dim dawn behind the tamarisks - they sky is saffron-yellow
Last Line: Past.
Subject(s): Christmas; India; Nativity, The


DIM dawn behind the tamarisks -- the sky is saf-
fron-yellow --
As the women in the village grind the corn,
And the parrots seek the river-side, each calling
to his fellow
That the Day, the staring Eastern Day is born.
Oh the white dust on the highway!
Oh the stenches in the byway!
Oh the clammy fog that hovers over earth!
And at Home they're making merry 'neath
the white and scarlet berry --
What part have India's exiles in their
mirth?
Full day behind the tamarisks -- the sky is blue
and staring --
As the cattle crawl afield beneath the yoke,
And they bear One o'er the field-path, who is past
all hope or caring,
To the ghat below the curling wreaths of
smoke.
Call on Rama, going slowly, as ye bear a
brother lowly --
Call on Rama, -- he may hear, perhaps, your
voice!
With our hymn-books and our psalters we
appeal to other altars,
And to-day we bid "good Christian men re-
joice!"
High noon behind the tamarisks -- the sun is hot
above us --
As Home the Christmas Day is breaking wan.
They will drink our health at dinner -- those who
tell us how they love us,
And forget us till another year be gone!
Oh the toil that knows no breaking! Oh! the
Heimweh, ceaseless, aching!
Oh the black dividing Sea and alien Plain!
Youth was cheap -- wherefore we sold it.
Gold was good -- we hoped to hold it,
And to-day we know the fulness of our
gain.
Gray dusk behind the tamarisks--the parrots fly
together --
As the sun is sinking slowly over Home;
And his last ray seems to mock us shackled in a
lifelong tether
That drags us back howe'er so far we roam.
Hard her service, poor her payment -- she in
ancient , tattered raiment --
India, she the grim Stepmother of our
kind.
If a year of life be lent her, if her temple's
shrine we enter,
The door is shut -- we may not look behind.
Black night behind the tamarisks -- the owls be-
gin their chorus --
As the conches from the temple scream and
bray.
With the fruitless years behind us, and the hope-
less years before us,
Let us honor, oh my brothers, Christmas Day!
Call a truce, then, to our labors -- let us feast
with friends and neighbors,
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.




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