The Pope of Rome he could not win
From pleasant meat and pleasant sin
These who, in honour's hope, endure
Lean days and lives enforced pure.
These who, replying not, submit
Unto the curses of the Pit
Which he that rides (O greater shame!)
Flings forth by number not by name ...
Could Triple Crown or Jesuit's oath
Do what yon shuffle-stocking doth!


Notes on the text

boating In the collected version of this verse, Kipling headed it— more appropriately— 'Rowing'. It is a scene of extreme effort on the river, more like training on the Thames than leisurely boating in Hyde Park. A modern coach would probably be riding a bicycle and shouting instructions through a megaphone.

pleasant meat good food.

These who ... endure lean days and lives enforced pure Oarsmen in hard training.

curses of the Pit rowing coaches often use robust language to urge on their crews.

Flings forth by number not by name The rowers are addressed by numbers, 2, 3, 4, etc., according to their position in the boat.

shuffle-stocking Untidy, with stockings falling down.

triple-crown The triple crown of the Papacy. Kipling's point is that in enforcing abstinence the dictates of religion are as nothing compared with the discipline of training.