Verse > Rudyard Kipling > Verse: 1885–1918
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Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).  Verse: 1885–1918.  1922.
 
“As the Bell Clinks”
 
AS I left the Halls at Lumley, rose the vision of a comely
Maid last season worshipped dumbly, watched with fervour from afar;
And I wondered idly, blindly, if the maid would greet me kindly.
That was all—the rest was settled by the clinking tonga-bar. 1
Yea, my life and hers were coupled by the tonga coupling-bar.        5
 
For my misty meditation, at the second changing-station,
Suffered sudden dislocation, fled before the tuneless jar
Of a Wagner obbligato, scherzo, double-hand staccato,
Played on either pony’s saddle by the clacking tonga-bar—
Played with human speech, I fancied, by the jigging, jolting bar.        10
 
“She was sweet,” thought I, “last season, but ’twere surely wild unreason
“Such a tiny hope to freeze on as was offered by my Star,
“When she whispered, something sadly: ‘I—we feel your going badly!’”
“And you let the chance escape you?” rapped the rattling tonga-bar.
“What a chance and what an idiot!” clicked the vicious tonga-bar.        15
 
Heart of man—O heart of putty! Had I gone by Kakahutti,
On the old Hill-road and rutty, I had ’scaped that fatal car.
But his fortune each must bide by, so I watched the milestones slide by
To—“You call on Her to-morrow!” fugue with cymbals by the bar—
“You must call on Her to-morrow!”—post-horn gallop by the bar.        20
 
Yet a further stage my goal on—we were whirling down to Solon,
With a double lurch and roll on, best foot foremost, ganz und gar
“She was very sweet,” I hinted. “If a kiss had been imprinted———?”
“’Would ha’ saved a world of trouble!” clashed the busy tonga-bar.
“’Been accepted or rejected!” banged and clanged the tonga-bar.        25
 
Then a notion wild and daring, ’spite the income-tax’s paring
And a hasty thought of sharing—less than many incomes are—
Made me put a question private, (you can guess what I would drive at.)
“You must work the sum to prove it,” clanked the careless tonga-bar.
“Simple Rule of Two will prove it,” lilted back the tonga-bar.        30
 
It was under Khyraghaut I mused:—“Suppose the maid be haughty—
“There are lovers rich—and forty; wait some wealthy Avatar?
“Answer, monitor untiring, ’twixt the ponies twain perspiring!”
“Faint heart never won fair lady,” creaked the straining tonga-bar.
“Can I tell you ere you ask Her?” pounded slow the tonga-bar.        35
 
Last, the Tara Devi turning showed the lights of Simla burning,
Lit my little lazy yearning to a fiercer flame by far.
As below the Mall we jingled, through my very heart it tingled—
Did the iterated order of the threshing tonga-bar:—
“Try your luck—you can’t do better!” twanged the loosened tonga-bar.        40
 
Note 1. Bar of the old-fashioned curricle that took men up to Simla before the railroad was made. [back]
 
 
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