December 12, 2011

The Betrothed

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--Description: 20th C, Kipling R., Humor, Love, Marriage--
OPEN the old cigar-box, get me a Cuba stout,
For things are running crossways, and Maggie and I are out.

We quarreled about Havanas – we fought o'er a good cheroot,
And I know 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 vapor, 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 Laranaga, 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 – gray and dour and old –
With never another Maggie to purchase for love or gold!

And the light of the 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' its 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 for 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 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 Partagas 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

--Did You Know: (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936) Kipling was a British author and poet. Born in Bombay, in British India, he is best known for his works of fiction The Jungle Book (1894) (a collection of stories which includes Rikki-Tikki-Tavi), Kim (1901) (a tale of adventure), many short stories, including The Man Who Would Be King (1888); and his poems, including Mandalay (1890), Gunga Din (1890), and If— (1910). He is regarded as a major "innovator in the art of the short story"; his children's books are enduring classics of children's literature; and his best works speak to a versatile and luminous narrative gift. Kipling was one of the most popular writers in English, in both prose and verse, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The author Henry James said of him: "Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius (as distinct from fine intelligence) that I have ever known." In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first English language writer to receive the prize, and to date he remains its youngest recipient. Among other honours, he was sounded out for the British Poet Laureateship and on several occasions for a knighthood, all of which he declined. Read more at: Rudyard Kipling

--Poetry Terminology: Well Versed -
Somebody proficient in the rules of prosody.

--Word of the Day: regnant \REG-nuhnt\, adjective:
1. Prevalent; widespread.
2. Reigning; ruling (usually used following the noun it modifies): a queen regnant.
3. Exercising authority, rule, or influence.
Example:
The mere fact that it was the regnant authority in the State of Louisiana at that time does not give validity or legality to its acts or its officers.
-Isaac Grant Thompson, Irving Browne, The American Reports (Volume 20);

--Quote of the Day: "To cease smoking is the easiest thing I ever did. I ought to know because I've done it a thousand times."
~Mark Twain, attributed

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