Rudyard Kipling

(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936 / Bombay)

Our Fathers of Old


Excellent herbs had our fathers of old--
Excellent herbs to ease their pain--
Alexanders and Marigold,
Eyebright, Orris, and Elecampane--
Basil, Rocket, Valerian, Rue,
( Almost singing themselves they run)
Vervain, Dittany, Call-me-to-you--
Cowslip, Melilot, Rose of the Sun.
Anything green that grew out of the mould
Was an excellent herb to our fathers of old.

Wonderful tales had our fathers of old,
Wonderful tales of the herbs and the stars-
The Sun was Lord of the Marigold,
Basil and Rocket belonged to Mars.
Pat as a sum in division it goes--
(Every herb had a planet bespoke)--
Who but Venus should govern the Rose?
Who but Jupiter own the Oak?
Simply and gravely the facts are told
In the wonderful books of our fathers of old.

Wonderful little, when all is said,
Wonderful little our fathers knew.
Half their remedies cured you dead--
Most of their teaching was quite untrue--
"Look at the stars when a patient is ill.
(Dirt has nothing to do with disease),
Bleed and blister as much as you will,
Bister and bleed him as oft as you please."
Whence enormous and manifold
Errors were made by our fathers of old.

Yet when the sickness was sore in the land,
And neither planets nor herbs assuaged,
They took their lives in their lancet-hand
And, oh, what a wonderful war they waged!
Yes, when the crosses were chalked on the door-
(Yes, when the terrible dead-cart rolled! )
Excellent courage our fathers bore--
None too learned, but nobly bold
Into the fight went our fathers of old.

If it be certain, as Galen says--
And sage Hippocrates holds as much--
"That those afflicted by doubts and dismays
Are mightily helped by a dead man's touch,"
Then, be good to us, stars above!
Then, be good to us, herbs below!
We are afflicted by what we can prove,
We are distracted by what we know.
So-ah, so!
Down from your heaven or up from your mould
Send us the hearts of our Fathers of old!

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Read poems about / on: rose, courage, war, sun, green, heaven, pain, father, star, running

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (Our Fathers of Old by Rudyard Kipling )

Enter the verification code :

There is no comment submitted by members..

Trending Poets

Trending Poems

  1. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  3. Alone, Edgar Allan Poe
  4. Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
  5. Dreams, Langston Hughes
  6. Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
  7. If, Rudyard Kipling
  8. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  9. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
  10. If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda

Poem of the Day

poet Richard Lovelace

Tell me not (Sweet) I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
To war and arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I chase,
...... Read complete »

   

New Poems

  1. Mona Lisa Canvas, Gilbert Ortega
  2. Passion Play, Gilbert Ortega
  3. The Gatekeeper part 2 (In memory of Edga.., Gilbert Ortega
  4. AGAINST FORGETTING, George Dee Vuy
  5. The Gatekeeper part 1 (In memory of Edga.., Gilbert Ortega
  6. For Jennifer, Gilbert Ortega
  7. Gilded Thorns, Gilbert Ortega
  8. Journey of death, ramesh rai
  9. Green cypress hills…, Mark Heathcote
  10. Ο χορός των Ερινύων, Elena Ioannou
[Hata Bildir]