Log in

No account? Create an account

per amica silentia lunae

or, across the ferny brae with the evil voodoo celt

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
I don't know, I've never kippled...
The Sack of the Gods

Strangers drawn from the ends of the earth, jewelled and plumed were we;
I was Lord of the Inca race, and she was Queen of the Sea.
Under the stars beyond our stars where the new-forged meteors glow,
Hotly we stormed Valhalla, a million years ago!

Ever ’neath high Valhalla Hall the well-tuned horns begin,
When the swords are out in the underworld, and the weary Gods come in.
Ever through high Valhalla Gate the Patient Angel goes
He opens the eyes that are blind with hate—he joins the hands of foes.

Dust of the stars was under our feet, glitter of stars above—
Wrecks of our wrath dropped reeling down as we fought and we spurned and we strove.
Worlds upon worlds we tossed aside, and scattered them to and fro,
The night that we stormed Valhalla, a million years ago!

They are forgiven as they forgive all those dark wounds and deep,
Their beds are made on the Lap of Time and they lie down and sleep.
They are forgiven as they forgive all those old wounds that bleed.
They shut their eyes from their worshippers; they sleep till the world has need.

She with the star I had marked for my own—I with my set desire—
Lost in the loom of the Night of Nights—lighted by worlds afire—
Met in a war against the Gods where the headlong meteors glow,
Hewing our way to Valhalla, a million years ago!

They will come back—come back again, as long as the red Earth rolls.
He never wasted a leaf or a tree. Do you think He would squander souls ?

- Rudyard Kipling, 1892

I first ran across a reference to this in Neil Gaiman's "Sandman"- in the story "Sunday Mourning," Hob Gadling (my favorite character in the series) quotes the last two lines in explaining to Death that he believed in reincarnation. It took me a while to track it down, but I finally did.

It sends chills up my spine. I'm not quite sure what to make of it... I love the imagery, and there's something there about the persistence of gods and heroes that appeals to me, as well as the sense of vast hidden histories and myths lying behind the face of the everyday world. I haven't read the novel that it first appeared in, and he expanded it from that version, anyway.

Kipling tends to go in and out of fashion for reasons that are often more political than artistic- he gets decried for jingoism and racisim (for his time, he was actually no worse than the average on the former and better than average on the latter); on the other hand, he gets appropriated by militarists of all stripes, often ones who espouse causes he would scorn.

I love the music of his words, the imagery, the flow of it. He was a keen observer and listener, and wonderful at translating that into poetry. He was a master storyteller, whether in prose or poetry. And his work is full of odd little gems like this one.

  • 1
My favorite thing ever from the Sandman series - is in the beginning. Sandman is in hell, battling a demon over a personal item. They have a battle of words and images...snake, horse, fly/disease...etc. When finally it ends with the Demon asking Sandman what he will be after delivering what's believed the be the final strike...Sandman replies "I am hope". I need to dig that out...I had read it at my mother's funeral (yeah I'm odd for doing that)...and I'd like it read at mine. At times like that - it's nice to be reminded that with Hope - all things are possible.

He never wasted a leaf or a tree. Do you think He would squander souls ?

I need to remember this poem, and this line. It's a far more eloquent way of describing why I believe in reincarnation than quoting laws of physics.

  • 1