The Totem

Ere the mother’s milk had dried
  On my lips, the Brethren came—
Tore me from my nurse’s side,
  And bestowed on me a name 

Infamously overtrue—
  Such as ‘Bunny,’ ‘Stinker,’ ‘Podge’;—
But, whatever I should do,
   Mine for ever in the Lodge. 

Then they taught with palm and toe—
  Then I learned with yelps and tears—
All the Armoured Man should know
  Through his Seven Secret Years . . . 

Last, oppressing as oppressed,
  I was loosed to go my ways
With a Totem on my breast
  Governing my nights and days— 

Ancient and unbribeable,
  By the virtue of its Name—
Which, however oft I fell
  Lashed me back into The Game. 

And the World, that never knew,
  Saw no more beneath my chin
Than a patch of rainbow-hue,
  Mixed as Life and crude as Sin.

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