(May 1st to 7th)

Format: Triple

You’ll never plumb the Oriental mind,
And if you did it isn’t worth the toil.
Think of a sleek French priest in Canada;
Divide by twenty half-breeds. Multiply
By twice the Sphinx’s silence. There’s your East,


This is from “One Viceroy Resigns” (1888), a poem about the cares of governance in India, in the style of Browning, which imagines what the outgoing Viceroy, Lord Dufferin, might say in confidence to his successor, Lord Lansdowne.

He was perpetually ‘going Fantee’ among natives, which, of course, no man with any sense believes in. He was initiated into the Sat Bhai at Allahabad once, when he was on leave; he knew the Lizzard-Song of the Sansis, and the Hálli-Hukk dance, which is a religious can-can of a startling kind. When a man knows who dance the Hálli-Hukk, and how, and when, and where, he knows something to be proud of.


This is from “Miss Youghal’s Sais” (1887) in Plain Tales from the Hills.

Strickland ia an unusual police officer, a master of subterfuge, with a deep knowledge of Indian peoples and their ways. In the story, during the season in Simla, he disguises himself as a groom so as to be near a young woman he loves.

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face though they come from the ends of the earth!


These are the opening – and closing – lines of “The Ballad of East and West” (1889).