At the End of a Year




This is the end of a Year
Auntie dear;
Drear—
(Horridly, hopelessly drear)
As I write
In the night;
(From the depths of a frosty night)
I've little to show for the year,
I fear,
In the book of the Bank or the Heart.
(In cash or Flo's heart.)
I'm twelve months older its true—
Entre nous,
That's all I can truthfully write
Tonight—
Painful, but painfully true.

I'm drawing three hundred a year
Out here,
But it's queer
I'd barter the 'bloomin' lot'
On the spot,
(If I could)
For the wood
Pavement of Kensington High–
Street, and a London sky,
And the noise of the local trains,
(Those merry city trains)
And the flashing theatre lights,
In the Strand,
And the bustle and stir o' nights—
And 'the touch of a vanished hand'.

(Do you think you could understand
What it is to live in the plains,
(The doleful dusty plains)
Alone, like a hermit crab,
Where gas is never seen
And there's half the world between
Yourself and a hansom cab?)

So I dream of a thousand things,
(As I scribble & smoke and think)
Of months with leaden wings,
Bedraggled with printers' ink,
Of chalky Sussex cliffs,
And how—were it not for the "ifs"—
(Those pestilent practical"ifs"')
I would pack up my traps and go
By the bounding P and O
And quit Lahore tonight
But that is impossible quite.

For the facts of the case are this
(The prose of my being is this)
On the table beneath my hand,
(In a neat little tape-bound row)
Are the proofs which the printers expect
(The proofs which this child must correct)
For tomorrow's issue you know.
And, in case I should be remiss,
This legend is writ for a guide:—
(On their fat little backs for a guide)
'Sir. Bearer is waiting outside
Please arrange. Sir,—Yours to command
Badshee Shah'—So you see I am tied
Verily, tight am I tied
To the land.

And the moral hereof is plain
I maintain
I've lost my first love and the heat
Of much primal conceit
(Nota Bene, There's lots of it yet
You bet).
I've lost all the fun of the college,
And half my school knowledge,
I've lost my first trust in all men,
From Colombo to Quetta,
I've lost (shall I find her again?)
My Love from the place where I set her.

I've gained what is called a 'good start'
A horse and a cart
A gun and a few suits of clothes
And a stock of 'strange oaths',
A place at the Club
And my grub.
That is—if I face all the ills
Of fevers and chills,
And, once in two years, take a tolera–
Ble chance of a spasm of cholera.
In view of which facts I may safely assert
That I'm bound to Lahore till—I turns to its dirt.
And some fifteen years hence may be gaily employed
In spreading the germs of malignant typhoid.
Or, with cowdung and straw, duly plastered and set,
I may guard my successor's young head from the wet