Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Lost Legion - by Rudyard Kipling////Lost Purpose - by Bob Atkinson

The Lost Legion
by Rudyard Kipling

there's a Legion that never was 'listed
that carries no colours or crest,
but, split in a thousand detachments,
is breaking the road for the rest.

our fathers they left us their blessing-
they taught us, and groomed us, and crammed;
but we've shaken the Clubs and the Messes
to go and find out and be damned,
Dear boys!
to go and get shot and be damned,

so some of us chevy the slaver,
and some of us cherish the black,
and some of us hunt on the Oil Coast,
and some on-the Wallaby track:

and some of us drift to Sarawak
and some of us drift up The Fly,
and some share our tucker with tigers,
and some with the gentle Masai,
Dear boys!
take tea with the giddy Masai.

we've painted The Islands vermilion,
we've pearled on half-shares in the Bay,
we've shouted on seven-ounce nuggets,
we've starved on a Kanaka's pay.

we've laughed at the world as we found it,-
its women and cities and men-
from Say Yid Burgash in a tantrum
to the smoke-reddened eyes of Loben,
Dear boys!
we've a little account with Loben.

we opened the Chinaman's oil-well,
but the dynamite didn't agree,
and the people got up and fan-kwaied us,
and we ran from Ichang to the sea.

yes, somehow and somewhere and always
we were first when the trouble began,
from a lottery-row in Manila
to an I.D.B. race on the Pan,
Dear boys!
with the Mounted Police on the Pan.

we preach in advance of the Army,
we skirmish ahead of the Church,
with never a gunboat to help us
when we're scuppered and left in the lurch.

but we know as the cartridges finish
and we're filed on our last little shelves,
that the Legion that never was 'listed
will send us as good as ourselves,
(Good men!)
Five hundred as good as ourselves.

then a health (we must drink it in whispers),
to our wholly unauthorized horde-
to the line of our dusty foreloopers,
the Gentlemen Rovers abroad.

yes, a health to ourselves ere we scatter,
for the steamer won't wait for the train,
and the Legion that never was 'listed
goes back into quarters again.
goes back under canvas again.
the swag and the billy again.
Here's how!
the trail and the packhorse again.
the trek and the lager again.


Kipling gave us examples of how
to document the emotional life of his times.
He doesn't condemn the actions of his era,
but expresses without commentary
the behavioral options some had taken.

The enjoyment of interaction with other
cultures is pervasive in this piece.

Glad we can find his works today,
as they preserve
the many adventures of his times,
mixing of cultures,
and appreciation of the minds
of those of a different stripe,
with the eternal effort to
influence diverse civilizations
with one's own institutions.

An attempt to grasp the value of "the Lost Legion" for today:

Lost Purpose
(c)2013 Bob Atkinson

we set out on the Marne
to correct what had been done
to defense of stability in Europe
put badness of blame on some

we marched as soldiers bravely trained
to kill and die for glory
coming home to enjoy a time
when we could tell our stories

then in penance gave up our drink
as our brothers grabbed from us
that freedom held so dear in hand
that totality of trust

trust of which our fellow men
carried with them in their hearts
that we would give due caution
to deeds for which we sought

they killed our institutions
they pushed us to the brink
on that black day in twenty-nine
didn't hesitate to make us sink

we struggled through the thirties
felt no future brightness gleamed
until we fought for other cultures
those theatres of short-sighted dreams

visions held by some who lurked
in shadows of our lands
like those in merry England
who knew not freedom's hand

we gave what could be given
fought our friends west of Japan
died again in fields of fire
paid repentance there again

for a while we suffered from
smoke of an industrial age
and built our society with roads
spread towns thin across our page

allowed our cities to decay
our morality gathered dust
as those who pushed simple ways
knew not what they had brought

spent energies on the Viet Nam
to protect from viscousness
of those dreamers who didn't find
morality deep within

five hundred died in one week
that's just our boys alone
we add to that the "enemy"
who later became our friend

brought the world together tightly
giving up our prosperity's last hope
bought all goods they could produce
manufacture and ship to us

tried to find our answer
to creation of containment
of energies abundant
no simple force arrangement

then out of the blue horizon
we came upon a dream
build for eons not for years
our cities and our tombs
drive those foundations deep down
drive those walls up high
build what can be lived in
by those who'll know us only

by our writing down of emotion
descriptions of our lives
and how we came together
to live productive lives

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