Kipling, Rudyard

British, (1865-1936)

The Prodigal Son

  1. Here come I to my own again,
  2. Fed, forgiven and known again,
  3. Claimed by bone of my bone again
  4. And cheered by flesh of my flesh.
  5. The fatted calf is dressed for me,
  6. But the husks have greater zest for me,
  7. I think my pigs will be best for me,
  8. So I’m off to the Yards afresh.
  10. I never was very refined, you see,
  11. (And it weighs on my brother’s mind, you see)
  12. But there’s no reproach among swine, d’you see,
  13. For being a bit of a swine.
  14. So I’m off with wallet and staff to eat
  15. The bread that is three parts chaff to wheat,
  16. But glory be! — there’s a laugh to it,
  17. Which isn’t the case when we dine.
  19. My father glooms and advises me,
  20. My brother sulks and despises me,
  21. And Mother catechises me
  22. Till I want to go out and swear.
  23. And, in spite of the butler’s gravity,
  24. I know that the servants have it I
  25. Am a monster of moral depravity,
  26. And I’m damned if I think it’s fair!
  28. I wasted my substance, I know I did,
  29. On riotous living, so I did,
  30. But there’s nothing on record to show I did
  31. Worse than my betters have done.
  32. They talk of the money I spent out there —
  33. They hint at the pace that I went out there —
  34. But they all forget I was sent out there
  35. Alone as a rich man’s son.
  37. So I was a mark for plunder at once,
  38. And lost my cash (can you wonder?) at once,
  39. But I didn’t give up and knock under at once,
  40. I worked in the Yards, for a spell,
  41. Where I spent my nights and my days with hogs.
  42. And shared their milk and maize with hogs,
  43. Till, I guess, I have learned what pays with hogs
  44. And — I have that knowledge to sell!
  46. So back I go to my job again,
  47. Not so easy to rob again,
  48. Or quite so ready to sob again
  49. On any neck that’s around.
  50. I’m leaving, Pater. Good-bye to you!
  51. God bless you, Mater! I’ll write to you!
  52. I wouldn’t be impolite to you,
  53. But, Brother, you are a hound!

This poem was expanded from Ch.5 of Kipling’s novel, Kim, first published in 1901.

About the Poet

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), Indian-born British writer. India was also the setting for most of his highly successful tales and poems. He was awarded the Nobel prize in for Literature 1907.

Kipling is best known for his works The Jungle Book (1894) and his novel, Kim (1901). [DES-4/08]

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