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About this poet

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born December 30, 1865, in Bombay, India, to a British family. When he was five years old, he was taken to England to begin his education, where he suffered deep feelings of abandonment and confusion after living a pampered lifestyle as a colonial. He returned to India at the age of seventeen to work as a journalist and editor for the Civil and Military Gazette in Lahore. Kipling published his first collection of verse, Departmental Ditties and Other Verses, in 1886 and his first collection of stories, Plain Tales from the Hills, in 1888.

In the early 1890s some of his poems were published in William Ernest Henley's National Observer and later collected in to Barrack-Room Ballads (1892), an immensely popular collection which contained "Gunga Din" and "Mandalay." In 1892 Kipling married and moved to Vermont, where he published the two Jungle Books and began work on Kim. He returned to England with his family in 1896 and published another novel, Captains Courageous. Kipling visited South Africa during the Boer War, editing a newspaper there and writing the Just-So Stories. Kim, Kipling's most successful novel (and his last), appeared in 1901. The Kipling family moved to Sussex permanently in 1902, and he devoted the rest of his life to writing poetry and short stories, including his most famous poem, "If—". He died on January 18, 1936; his ashes are buried in Westminster Abbey.

Selected Bibliography


Barrack-Room Ballads (1892)
Departmental Ditties and Other Verses (1886)
The Five Nations (1903)


Something of Myself for My Friends Known and Unknown (1937)


Captains Courageous (1897)
Just-So Stories (1902)
Kim (1902)
Plain Tales from the Hills (1888)
Stalky & Co. (1899)
The Jungle Book (1894)
The Light That Failed (1891)
The Second Jungle Book (1895)

Poetry & Prose

A Diversity of Creatures (1917)
Rewards and Fairies (1910)

Gunga Din

You may talk o' gin an' beer   
When you're quartered safe out 'ere,   
An' you're sent to penny-fights an' Aldershot it;   
But if it comes to slaughter   
You will do your work on water,            
An' you'll lick the bloomin' boots of 'im that's got it.   
Now in Injia's sunny clime,   
Where I used to spend my time   
A-servin' of 'Er Majesty the Queen,   
Of all them black-faced crew      
The finest man I knew   
Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din.   
    It was "Din! Din! Din!   
    You limping lump o' brick-dust, Gunga Din!   
    Hi! slippy hitherao!      
    Water, get it! Panee lao!   
    You squidgy-nosed old idol, Gunga Din!"   
The uniform 'e wore   
Was nothin' much before,   
An' rather less than 'arf o' that be'ind,      
For a twisty piece o' rag   
An' a goatskin water-bag   
Was all the field-equipment 'e could find.   
When the sweatin' troop-train lay   
In a sidin' through the day,      
Where the 'eat would make your bloomin' eyebrows crawl,   
We shouted "Harry By!"   
Till our throats were bricky-dry,   
Then we wopped 'im 'cause 'e couldn't serve us all.   
    It was "Din! Din! Din!      
    You 'eathen, where the mischief 'ave you been?   
    You put some juldee in it,   
    Or I'll marrow you this minute,   
    If you don't fill up my helmet, Gunga Din!"   
'E would dot an' carry one      
Till the longest day was done,   
An' 'e didn't seem to know the use o' fear.   
If we charged or broke or cut,   
You could bet your bloomin' nut,   
'E'd be waitin' fifty paces right flank rear.      
With 'is mussick on 'is back,   
'E would skip with our attack,   
An' watch us till the bugles made "Retire."   
An' for all 'is dirty 'ide,   
'E was white, clear white, inside      
When 'e went to tend the wounded under fire!   
    It was "Din! Din! Din!"   
    With the bullets kickin' dust-spots on the green.   
    When the cartridges ran out,   
    You could 'ear the front-files shout:      
    "Hi! ammunition-mules an' Gunga Din!"   
I sha'n't forgit the night   
When I dropped be'ind the fight   
With a bullet where my belt-plate should 'a' been.   
I was chokin' mad with thirst,      
An' the man that spied me first   
Was our good old grinnin', gruntin' Gunga Din.   
'E lifted up my 'ead,   
An' 'e plugged me where I bled,   
An' 'e guv me 'arf-a-pint o' water—green;      
It was crawlin' an' it stunk,   
But of all the drinks I've drunk,   
I'm gratefullest to one from Gunga Din.   
    It was "Din! Din! Din!   
    'Ere's a beggar with a bullet through 'is spleen;      
    'E's chawin' up the ground an' 'e's kickin' all around:   
    For Gawd's sake, git the water, Gunga Din!"   
'E carried me away   
To where a dooli lay,   
An' a bullet come an' drilled the beggar clean.      
'E put me safe inside,   
An' just before 'e died:   
"I 'ope you liked your drink," sez Gunga Din.   
So I'll meet 'im later on   
In the place where 'e is gone—      
Where it's always double drill and no canteen;   
'E'll be squattin' on the coals   
Givin' drink to pore damned souls,   
An' I'll get a swig in Hell from Gunga Din!   
    Din! Din! Din!      
    You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!   
    Tho' I've belted you an' flayed you,   
    By the livin' Gawd that made you,   
    You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

Joseph Rudyard Kipling is best known for his novels The Jungle Book, The Second Jungle Book, and Kim, and his most famous poem, "If".

by this poet

You mustn't swim till you're six weeks old, 
Or your head will be sunk by your heels; 
And summer gales and Killer Whales 
   Are bad for baby seals. 
Are bad for baby seals, dear rat, 
   As bad as bad can be. 
But splash and grow strong, 
And you can't be wrong, 
   Child of the Open Sea!
If you can keep your head when all about you
   Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
   But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
   Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to
When the flush of a newborn sun fell first on Eden's green and gold,   
Our father Adam sat under the Tree and scratched with a stick in the mold;   
And the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart,   
Till the Devil whispered behind the leaves: "It's pretty, but is it Art?"