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February 15, 2007

Poetry for Boys

As part of our homeschooling, Hubby has been reading poetry to the boys. Today he exegeted this gem from Kipling for them.

The Betrothed

“You must choose between me and your cigar.”

OPEN the old cigar-box, get me a Cuba stout,
For things are running crossways, and Maggie and I are out.

We quarrelled about Havanas—we fought o’er a good cheroot,
And I knew she is exacting, and she says I am a brute.

Open the old cigar-box—let me consider a space;
In the soft blue veil of the vapour musing on Maggie’s face.

Maggie is pretty to look at—Maggie’s a loving lass,
But the prettiest cheeks must wrinkle, the truest of loves must pass.

There’s peace in a Larranaga, there’s calm in a Henry Clay;
But the best cigar in an hour is finished and thrown away—

Thrown away for another as perfect and ripe and brown—
But I could not throw away Maggie for fear o’ the talk o’ the town!

Maggie, my wife at fifty—grey and dour and old—
With never another Maggie to purchase for love or gold!

And the light of Days that have Been the dark of the Days that Are,
And Love’s torch stinking and stale, like the butt of a dead cigar—

The butt of a dead cigar you are bound to keep in your pocket—
With never a new one to light tho’ it’s charred and black to the socket!

Open the old cigar-box—let me consider a while.
Here is a mild Manila—there is a wifely smile.

Which is the better portion—bondage bought with a ring,
Or a harem of dusky beauties, fifty tied in a string?

Counsellors cunning and silent—comforters true and tried,
And never a one of the fifty to sneer at a rival bride?

Thought in the early morning, solace in time of woes,
Peace in the hush of the twilight, balm ere my eyelids close,

This will the fifty give me, asking nought in return,
With only a Suttee’s passion—to do their duty and burn.

This will the fifty give me. When they are spent and dead,
Five times other fifties shall be my servants instead.

The furrows of far-off Java, the isles of the Spanish Main,
When they hear my harem is empty will send me my brides again.

I will take no heed to their raiment, nor food for their mouths withal,
So long as the gulls are nesting, so long as the showers fall.

I will scent ’em with best vanilla, with tea will I temper their hides,
And the Moor and the Mormon shall envy who read of the tale of my brides.

For Maggie has written a letter to give me my choice between
The wee little whimpering Love and the great god Nick o’ Teen.

And I have been servant of Love for barely a twelvemonth clear,
But I have been Priest of Cabanas a matter of seven year;

And the gloom of my bachelor days is flecked with the cheery light
Of stumps that I burned to Friendship and Pleasure and Work and Fight.

And I turn my eyes to the future that Maggie and I must prove,
But the only light on the marshes is the Will-o’-the-Wisp of Love.

Will it see me safe through my journey or leave me bogged in the mire?
Since a puff of tobacco can cloud it, shall I follow the fitful fire?

Open the old cigar-box—let me consider anew—
Old friends, and who is Maggie that I should abandon you?

A million surplus Maggies are willing to bear the yoke;
And a woman is only a woman, but a good Cigar is a Smoke.

Light me another Cuba—I hold to my first-sworn vows.
If Maggie will have no rival, I’ll have no Maggie for Spouse!

--Rudyard Kipling

Rumor has it A.A. Milne poems will be featured next week, in honor of R-almost-8's birthday.


Posted by TulipGirl  |  10:56 PM|  TrackBack (0)  |   Words

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TulipGirl, I cannot get into your blog via our computer/IP address in Ukraine. Is there anything you can do? It says I am forbidden now. Ouch! I would love to keep up with you and what´s going on in your life. I´m at the European Women´s Conference in Spain and can get in from here. Very interesting! Oh - the feelings of rejection!!! Forbidden!! Ouch! :)

Posted by: Columbine at February 18, 2007 12:14 PM

Ack! I'm so sorry about that. You aren't the first to tell me that (a friend in NZ did, too--but I didn't know what was going on--I thought it was resolved. Maybe not?)

I know my site is blocked by some filters (like Reuter's News filter--our friend Nate in Warsaw thinks it is because of the BREASTfeeding references.)

I've been contacted by my web host about spam. I'm still working on resolving that. I'm a bit klutzy when it comes to tech stuff. My gut feeling is that may be part of it.

I think you may be able to read it if you subscribe to an RSS feed. You can do that through google. The RSS urls for this site are:

And I'll ask some techy friends and see whether this can be solved in an easy way. (Easy is good.)

I remember the last women's conference in Spain. *huuuug* I'm really missing Ukraine and the Ukraine team right now. Did you know Heather got married a couple of weeks ago? And Laura is getting married soon? So many changes. . .

I'm going to email you soon, about some personal stuff. (Good things.) Praying for you.

Posted by: TulipGirl at February 18, 2007 04:50 PM

Satin embroidery...do tell.

I was browsing your "about me" section...perhaps your husbands blog has been hacked?

Thanks for the comments - and don't worry I cannot cut a straight line either :)

Posted by: Amanda at February 19, 2007 01:03 AM

Just wanted to toss in another possible reason the site may be blocked. Overly-aggressive "adult" filters may be picking up on the URL. I can't view any images on your site from work because they all have "girl" in the URL! At least it works fine from home.

The feed is a good idea for people having troubles. Use an online feed reader (Bloglines, Google Reader, etc.) so your computer isn't accessing the feed directly.

(I think that's a strange poem ... but I've never really understood most poetry.)

Posted by: Brian at February 19, 2007 10:49 AM

Umm... he's reading a poem to the kids in which a guy chooses to worship the great god Nicotine rather than be with his wife?

He's planting this image in their developing minds:

Which is the better portion—bondage bought with a ring,
Or a harem of dusky beauties, fifty tied in a string?

Yes, the "harem of dusky beauties" is really a bunch of cigars, but the innuendo is not subtle.... and marriage is "bondage bought with a ring"?


Posted by: nicejoest at February 22, 2007 01:43 AM

Amanda, check out:

NiceJoest. . . Yup, he's exposing our kids to tobacco and temptresses. And you are assuming you know the image he's planting in their impressionable little minds--as I said, he's exegeting this, and doing an impressive job of helping them evaluate what is good and true.

Posted by: TulipGirl at February 23, 2007 05:52 PM

I'd love to hear your husbands commentary on this poem! I get the irony - from a man's perspective there is some wry humor that I suppose would be lost on a woman.

From a slightly different angle A Fruitful Life posted this question: "If your child were addicted to one or the other, which would you rather your child be addicted to--television or tobacco?" Hmmmm ....


Posted by: Robin at February 26, 2007 08:43 AM

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