'The Ballad Of East And West' by Rudyard Kipling

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Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face,
tho' they come from the ends of the earth!

Kamal is out with twenty men to raise the Border-side,
And he has lifted the Colonel's mare that is the Colonel's pride:
He has lifted her out of the stable-door between the dawn and the day,
And turned the calkins upon her feet, and ridden her far away.
Then up and spoke the Colonel's son that led a troop of the Guides:
"Is there never a man of all my men can say where Kamal hides?"
Then up and spoke Mahommed Khan, the son of the Ressaldar:
"If ye know the track of the morning-mist, ye know where his pickets are.
At dusk he harries the Abazai -- at dawn he is into Bonair,
But he must go by Fort Bukloh to his own place to fare,
So if ye gallop to Fort Bukloh as fast as a bird can fly,
By the favour of God ye may cut him off ere he win to the Tongue of Jagai.
But if he be past the Tongue of Jagai, right swiftly turn ye then,
For the length and the breadth of that grisly plain is sown with Kamal's men.
There is rock to the left, and rock to the right, and low lean thorn between,
And ye may hear a breech-bolt snick where never a man is seen."
The Colonel's son has taken a horse, and a raw rough dun was he,
With the mouth of a bell and the heart of Hell
and the head of the gallows-tree.
The Colonel's son to the Fort has won, they bid him stay to eat --
Who rides at the tail of a Border thief, he sits not long at his meat.
He's up and away from Fort Bukloh as fast as he can fly,
Till he was aware of his father's mare in the gut of the Tongue of Jagai,
Till he was aware of his father's mare with Kamal upon her back,
And when he could spy the white of her eye, he made the pistol crack.
He has fired once, he has fired twice, but the whistling ball went wide.
"Ye shoot like a soldier," Kamal said."Show now if ye can ride."
It's up and over the Tongue of Jagai, as blown dustdevils go,
The dun he fled like a stag of ten, but the mare like a barren doe.
The dun he leaned against the bit and slugged his head above,
But the red mare played with the snaffle-bars, as a maiden plays with a glove.
There was rock to the left and rock to the right, and low lean thorn between,
And thrice he heard a breech-bolt snick tho' never a man was seen.
They have ridden the low moon out of the sky, their hoofs drum up the dawn,
The dun he went like a wounded bull, but the mare like a new-roused fawn.
The dun he fell at a water-course -- in a woful heap fell he,
And Kamal has turned the red mare back, and pulled the rider free.
He has knocked the pistol out of his hand -- small room was there to strive,
"'Twas only by favour of mine," quoth he, "ye rode so long alive:
There was not a rock for twenty mile, there was not a clump of tree,
But covered a man of my own men with his rifle cocked on his knee.
If I had raised my bridle-hand, as I have held it low,
The little jackals that flee so fast were feasting all in a row:
If I had bowed my head on my breast, as I have held it high,
The kite that whistles above us now were gorged till she could not fly."
Lightly answered the Colonel's son:"Do good to bird and beast,
But count who come for the broken meats before thou makest a feast.
If there should follow a thousand swords to carry my bones away,
Belike the price of a jackal's meal were more than a thief could pay.
They will feed their horse on the standing crop,
their men on the garnered grain,
The thatch of the byres will serve their fires when all the cattle are slain.
But if thou thinkest the price be fair, -- thy brethren wait to sup,
The hound is kin to the jackal-spawn, -- howl, dog, and call them up!
And if thou thinkest the price be high, in steer and gear and stack,
Give me my father's mare again, and I'll fight my own way back!"
Kamal has gripped him by the hand and set him upon his feet.
"No talk shall be of dogs," said he, "when wolf and gray wolf meet.
May I eat dirt if thou hast hurt of me in deed or breath;
What dam of lances brought thee forth to jest at the dawn with Death?"
Lightly answered the Colonel's son:"I hold by the blood of my clan:
Take up the mare for my father's gift -- by God, she has carried a man!"
The red mare ran to the Colonel's son, and nuzzled against his breast;
"We be two strong men," said Kamal then, "but she loveth the younger best.
So she shall go with a lifter's dower, my turquoise-studded rein,
My broidered saddle and saddle-cloth, and silver stirrups twain."
The Colonel's son a pistol drew and held it muzzle-end,
"Ye have taken the one from a foe," said he;
"will ye take the mate from a friend?"
"A gift for a gift," said Kamal straight; "a limb for the risk of a limb.
Thy father has sent his son to me, I'll send my son to him!"
With that he whistled his only son, that dropped from a mountain-crest --
He trod the ling like a buck in spring, and he looked like a lance in rest.
"Now here is thy master," Kamal said, "who leads a troop of the Guides,
And thou must ride at his left side as shield on shoulder rides.
Till Death or I cut loose the tie, at camp and board and bed,
Thy life is his -- thy fate it is to guard him with thy head.
So, thou must eat the White Queen's meat, and all her foes are thine,
And thou must harry thy father's hold for the peace of the Border-line,
And thou must make a trooper tough and hack thy way to power --
Belike they will raise thee to Ressaldar when I am hanged in Peshawur."

They have looked each other between the eyes, and there they found no fault,
They have taken the Oath of the Brother-in-Blood on leavened bread and salt:
They have taken the Oath of the Brother-in-Blood on fire and fresh-cut sod,
On the hilt and the haft of the Khyber knife, and the Wondrous Names of God.
The Colonel's son he rides the mare and Kamal's boy the dun,
And two have come back to Fort Bukloh where there went forth but one.
And when they drew to the Quarter-Guard, full twenty swords flew clear --
There was not a man but carried his feud with the blood of the mountaineer.
"Ha' done! ha' done!" said the Colonel's son.
"Put up the steel at your sides!
Last night ye had struck at a Border thief --
to-night 'tis a man of the Guides!"

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face,
tho' they come from the ends of the earth!

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Ballad of East and West by Rudyard Kipling

Have you ever read a poem that makes you feel like you're witnessing an epic battle between two opposing forces? That's exactly what Rudyard Kipling's "The Ballad of East and West" does. It's a poem that tells a story of a clash between two different worlds, East and West, and their eventual coming together in a moment of mutual respect and understanding.

The Beginning of the Poem

The poem starts off with a line that captures the essence of the entire piece: “Oh East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.” It's a line that resonates with many people because it's a common belief that cultures and traditions that are vastly different from one another can never truly understand each other. But Kipling challenges this notion by telling a story of two men from different worlds who come together in a moment of respect and admiration for each other.

The poem goes on to introduce us to Kamal, a chieftain from the East, who is on a mission to retrieve his stolen horse from the British Colonel, Harry Wheeler. Kamal is described as a man of great courage and strength, with a heart full of pride for his people and his culture. He is a noble warrior who won't stop until he retrieves what was taken from him.

The Meeting of the Two Warriors

As Kamal and his men ride towards the British fort, they encounter a lone horseman, who turns out to be none other than Colonel Wheeler himself. The two warriors, from opposite worlds, come face to face with each other, and what follows is a conversation that is filled with mutual respect and admiration.

Kamal says, “To me the message from the East, to thee the greeting from the West.” This line is significant because it shows that even though the two men come from different worlds, they are equally interested in learning about each other's cultures and traditions. They are both willing to put aside their differences and come together as equals.

The Battle

The poem then takes a dark turn, as Kamal and his men attack the British fort in order to retrieve the stolen horse. The battle is described in great detail, with Kipling's use of vivid imagery making it feel like the reader is right in the middle of the chaos. The action and intensity of the scene is almost palpable, leaving the reader on the edge of their seat.

The Conclusion

Eventually, Kamal is defeated, and he dies in battle, but not before he and Colonel Wheeler have one last exchange of words. Kamal says, “There is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, when two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!”

These words are significant because they show that even though the two men came from different worlds, they were able to find common ground and respect each other as equals. In the end, Kamal and Colonel Wheeler did not see each other as representatives of their respective cultures, but as two warriors facing each other in battle.

The Significance of the Poem

The Ballad of East and West is a poem that speaks to the universal human experience of finding common ground with people who are different from us. Kipling shows that even though cultures and traditions may differ, there is always something that unites us as human beings. The poem is a testament to the power of respect, admiration, and understanding in overcoming cultural barriers.

Overall, The Ballad of East and West is a masterpiece of a poem that is still relevant today. It's a poem that celebrates diversity, while also recognizing the commonalities that bind us together. It's a poem that reminds us that even though we may come from different worlds, we can still find common ground and respect each other as equals.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Ballad of East and West by Rudyard Kipling is a classic poem that has stood the test of time. It is a masterpiece that has been studied and analyzed by scholars and poetry enthusiasts alike. The poem is a ballad that tells the story of two warriors from different parts of the world who meet on the battlefield. The poem is rich in imagery, symbolism, and themes that are still relevant today.

The poem opens with the famous line, "Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet." This line sets the tone for the rest of the poem and introduces the central theme of the poem, which is the clash of cultures. The poem is set in the 19th century when the British Empire was at its height, and the East and West were at odds with each other.

The two warriors in the poem are Kamal, a Muslim horseman from Afghanistan, and the British Colonel, who is unnamed. Kamal is described as a brave and skilled warrior who is fiercely loyal to his tribe and his religion. The Colonel, on the other hand, is portrayed as a typical British officer, proud of his country and his army.

The two warriors meet on the battlefield, and a fierce battle ensues. The poem describes the battle in vivid detail, with images of swords clashing, horses galloping, and blood spilling. The battle is intense, and both warriors fight with all their might. However, Kamal is eventually defeated, and the Colonel emerges victorious.

Despite the defeat, Kamal is not portrayed as a villain in the poem. Instead, he is depicted as a noble warrior who fights for what he believes in. The poem describes Kamal's bravery and loyalty to his tribe and his religion. He is not just a faceless enemy, but a human being with his own beliefs and values.

The poem also explores the theme of honor. Both Kamal and the Colonel are portrayed as honorable men who fight for what they believe in. Kamal fights for his tribe and his religion, while the Colonel fights for his country and his army. The poem suggests that honor is a universal value that transcends culture and nationality.

The poem also explores the theme of respect. Despite being enemies, Kamal and the Colonel show each other respect. The poem describes how Kamal salutes the Colonel before the battle, and how the Colonel pays his respects to Kamal after the battle. The poem suggests that respect is a fundamental human value that should be shown even to one's enemies.

The poem is also rich in symbolism. The horse is a recurring symbol in the poem, representing freedom, power, and strength. Kamal's horse, named Khusru, is described as a magnificent animal that is fiercely loyal to its master. The horse is also a symbol of Kamal's identity and his connection to his tribe and his religion.

The poem also uses the symbol of the sword, representing power and violence. The sword is a weapon that is used by both Kamal and the Colonel in the battle. The sword is also a symbol of the clash of cultures, with Kamal's curved sword representing the East, and the Colonel's straight sword representing the West.

The poem's structure is also noteworthy. The poem is written in ballad form, with a regular rhyme scheme and meter. The poem is divided into six stanzas, each with four lines. The poem's structure gives it a musical quality, making it easy to remember and recite.

In conclusion, The Ballad of East and West by Rudyard Kipling is a classic poem that explores the themes of culture clash, honor, respect, and symbolism. The poem is a masterpiece that has stood the test of time and is still relevant today. The poem's vivid imagery, powerful symbolism, and musical structure make it a joy to read and analyze. The poem is a testament to Kipling's skill as a poet and his ability to capture the essence of human experience in his writing.

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