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In Partibus

From The Sun, March 21, 1915. By Rudyard Kipling.

The buses run to Battersea,
    The buses run to Bow
The buses run to Westbourne Grove
    And Notting Hill also;
But I am sick of London town
    From Shepherd’s Bush to Bow.

I see the smut upon my cuff
    And feel him on my nose;
I cannot leave my window wide
    When gentle zephyr blows,
Because he brings disgusting things
    And drops ’em on my clothes.

The sky, a greasy soup-toureen,
    Shuts down atop my brow.
Yes, I have sighed for London town
    And I have got it now:
And half of it is fog and filth,
    And half is fog and row.

And when I take my nightly prowl
    ’Tis passing good to meet
The pious Briton lugging home
    His wife and daughter sweet,
Through four packed miles of seething vice
    Thrust out upon the street.

Earth holds no horror like to this
    In any land displayed,
From Suez unto Sandy Hook,
    From Calais to Port Said;
And ’twas to hide their heathendom
    The beastly fog was made.

I cannot tell when dawn is near,
    Or when the day is done,
Because I always see the gas
    And never see the sun,
And now, methinks, I do not care
    A cuss for either one.

But stay, there was an orange, or
    An aged egg its yolk;
It might have been a Pears’ balloon
    Or Barnum’s latest joke;
I took it for the sun and wept
    To watch it through the smoke.

It’s oh to see the morn ablaze
    Above the mango-tope,
When homeward through the dewy cane
    The little jackals lope,
And half Bengal heaves into view,
    New washed—with sunlight soap.

It’s oh for one deep whisky peg
    When Christmas winds are blowing,
When all the men you ever knew,
    And all you’ve ceased from knowing,
Are “entered for the Tournament,
    And everything that’s going.”

But I consort with long-haired things
    In velvet collar-rolls,
Who talk about the Aims of Art,
    And “theories” and “goals,”
And moo and coo with women-folk
    About their blessed souls.

But that they call “psychology”
    Is lack of liver pill,
And all that blights their tender souls
    Is eating till they’re ill,
And their chief way of winning goals
    Consists of sitting still.

It’s oh to meet an Army man,
    Set up and trimmed and taut,
Who does not spout hashed libraries
    Or think the next man’s thought,
And walks as though he owned himself,
    And hogs his bristles short.

Hear now, a voice across the seas
    To kin beyond my ken,
If ye have ever filled an hour
    With stories from my pen,
For pity’s sake send some one here
    To bring me news of men!

The buses run to Islington,
    To Highgate and Soho,
To Hammersmith and Kew therewith
    And Camberwell also,
But I can only murmur “Bus!”
    From Shepherd’s Bush to Bow.

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