Verse > Rudyard Kipling > Verse: 1885–1918
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Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).  Verse: 1885–1918.  1922.
 
To the City of Bombay
 
1894

THE CITIES are full of pride,
  Challenging each to each—
This from her mountain-side,
  That from her burdened beach.
 
They count their ships full tale—        5
  Their corn and oil and wine,
Derrick and loom and bale,
  And rampart’s gun-flecked line;
City by City they hail:
  “Hast aught to match with mine?”        10
 
And the men that breed from them
  They traffic up and down,
But cling to their cities’ hem
  As a child to the mother’s gown.
 
When they talk with the stranger bands,        15
  Dazed and newly alone;
When they walk in the stranger lands,
  By roaring streets unknown;
Blessing her where she stands
  For strength above their own.        20
 
(On high to hold her fame
  That stands all fame beyond,
By oath to back the same,
  Most faithful-foolish-fond;
Making her mere-breathed name        25
  Their bond upon their bond.)
 
So thank I God my birth
  Fell not in isles aside—
Waste headlands of the earth,
  Or warring tribes untried—        30
But that she lent me worth
  And gave me right to pride.
 
Surely in toil or fray
  Under an alien sky,
Comfort it is to say:        35
  “Of no mean city am I!”
 
(Neither by service nor fee
  Come I to mine estate—
Mother of Cities to me,
  But I was born in her gate,        40
Between the palms and the sea,
  Where the world-end steamers wait.)
 
Now for this debt I owe,
  And for her far-borne cheer
Must I make haste and go        45
  With tribute to her pier.
 
And she shall touch and remit
  After the use of kings
(Orderly, ancient, fit)
  My deep-sea plunderings,        50
And purchase in all lands.
  And this we do for a sign
  Her power is over mine,
And mine I hold at her hands!
 
 
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