The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #1940   Message #6989
Posted By: LaMarca
17-Jun-97 - 06:14 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: The Land (Rudyard Kipling)
Subject: The Land-R. Kipling
Here is Kipling's "The Land", filtered through my memory. I wish I was adept at transcribing tunes and could give Peter Bellamy's setting for it, but it's on "Keep On Kipling", Fellside Records (?). I got it on tape from Andy's Front Hall Records.

When Julius Fabricius, Sub-Prefect of the Weald,
In the days of Diocletian, owned our lower river field,
He called to him Hobdenius, a Briton of the clay,
Saying, "What about that river piece for laying into hay?"

So they drained her long and crossways in the lavish Roman style
Still we find along the watercourse some ancient flakes of tile
And in droughthy middle August when the bones of meadows show,
We can trace the lines they followed 1600 years ago.

Well could Ogier work his warboat, well could Ogier wield his brand,
Much he knew of foaming waters - not so much of farming land;
So he called to him a Hobden of the old, unaltered blood
Saying "What about that river piece? She doesn't look no good."

Ogier sent his wains to Lewes, twenty hours solemn walk,
Where they drew back great abundance of the cool, grey healing chalk;
And old Hobden spread it broadcast, never heeding what was in't
Which is why, when cleaning ditches, we sometimes find a flint.

But the brook, you know her nature, rose one rainy autumn night
And tore down sodden flitches of the banks, both left and right.
William said unto his bailiff, as they rode their dripping rounds,
Hob, what about that river bit? The brook's got up no bounds!"

Georgii Quinti Anno Sexto, I, who own the river field
Am fortified by Title Deed, attested, signed and sealed,
Guaranteeing me, my Assigns, my Executors and Heirs
All sorts of Powers and Profits, which
Are neither mine nor theirs!

Should I dog his morning progress through the track-betraying dew?
And demand his dinner basket into which my pheasant flew?
Confiscate his evening faggot under which my coneys ran?
And summons him to judgement? I would sooner summons Pan!

Not for any beast that burrows, not for any bird that flies,
Would I lose his large, sound counsel or his keen, amending eye.
He is bailiff, woodsman, wheelwright, field-surveyor, engineer,
And if flagrantly a poacher, tain't for ME to interfere!