The Runners

A poem by Rudyard Kipling

What is the word that they tell now, now, now!
The little drums beating in the bazaars?
They beat (among, the buyers and the sellers)
‘Nimrud, ah, Nimrud!
God tends a gnat against Nimrud!’
Watchers, O Watchers a thousand!

At the edge of the crops, now, now, where the well-wheels are halted,
One prepares to loose the bullocks and one scrapes his hoe,
They beat (among the Bowers and the reapers)
‘Nimrud, ah, Nimrud!
God prepares an ill day far Nimrud!’
Watchers, O Watchers ten thousand.

By the fires of the camps, now, now, where the travellers meet,
Where the camels come in and the horses: their men conferring,
They beat (among the packmen and the drivers)
‘Nimrud, ah, Nimrud!
Thus it befell last noon to Nimrud!’
Watchers, O Watchers an hundred thousand!

Under the shadow of the border-peels, now, now, now!
In the rocks of the passes where the expectant shoe their horses,
They beat (among the rifles and the riders)
‘Nimrud, ah, Nimrud!
Shall we go up against Nimrud?’
Watchers, O Watchers a thousand thousand!

Bring out the heaps of grain, open the account-books again!
Drive forward the well-bullocks against the taxable harvest!
Eat and lie under the trees, pitch the police-guarded fair-grounds, O dancers!
Hide away the rifles and let down the ladders from the watch-towers!
They beat (among all the peoples)
‘Now, now, now!
God has reserved the Sword for Nimrud!
God has given Victory to Nimrud!
Let us abide under Nimrud!’
O Well-disposed and Heedful, an hundred thousand thousand

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