copyright, Kellscraft Studio, 1999
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OPEN the old cigar-box, get me a Cuba stout,
     For things are running crossways, and
     Maggie and I are out.

We quarreled about Havanas – we fought o'er a
     good cheroot,
And I know she is exacting, and she says I am a

Open the old cigar-box  –  let me consider a space;
In the soft blue veil of the vapor, musing on
     Maggie's face.

Maggie is pretty to look at – Maggie's a loving
But the prettiest cheeks must wrinkle, the truest
     of loves must pass.

There's peace in a Laranaga, there's calm in a
     Henry Clay,
But the best cigar in an hour is finished and
     thrown away – 

Thrown away for another as perfect and ripe and
     brown –
But I could not throw away Maggie for fear o'
     the talk o' the town!

Maggie, my wife at fifty – gray and dour and
     old –
With never another Maggie to purchase for love
     or gold!

And the light of the Days that have Been, the
     dark of the Days that Are,
And Love's torch stinking and stale, like the
     butt of a dead cigar – 

The butt of a dead cigar you are bound to keep
     in your pocket –
With never a new one to light tho' its charred
     and black to the socket.

Open the old cigar-box – let me consider a
     while –
Here is a mild Manila – there is a wifely smile.

Which is the better portion – bondage bought
     with a ring,
Or a harem of dusky beauties  –  fifty tied in a

Counsellors cunning and silent – comforters true
     and tried,
And never a one of the fifty to sneer at a rival

Thought in the early morning, solace in time of
Peace in the hush of the twilight, balm ere my
     eyelids close.

This will the fifty give me, asking nought in re-
With only a Suttee's passion – to do their duty
     and burn.

This will the fifty give me. When they are spent
     and dead,
Five times other fifties shall be my servants in-

The furrows of far-off Java, the isles of the Span-
     ish Main,
When they hear my harem is empty, will send
     me my brides again.

I will take no heed for their raiment, nor food
     for their mouths withal,
So long as the gulls are nesting, so long as the
     showers fall.

I will scent 'em with best vanilla, with tea will I
     temper their hides,
And the Moor and the Mormon shall envy who
     read the tale of my brides.

For Maggie has written a letter to give me my
     choice between
The wee little whimpering Love, and the great
     god Nick o' Teen.

And I have been servant of Love for barely
     a twelvemonth clear,
But I have been priest of Partagas a matter  of
     seven year;

And the gloom of my bachelor days is flecked
     with the cheery light
Of stumps that I burned to Friendship and Pleas-
     ure and Work and Fight.

And I turn my eyes to the future that Maggie
     and I must prove,
But the only light on the marshes is the Will-o'-
     the-Wisp of Love.

Will it see me safe through my journey, or leave
     me bogged in the mire?
Since a puff of tobacco can cloud it, shall I
     follow the fitful fire?

Open the old cigar-box – let me consider anew –
Old friends, and who is Maggie that I should
     abandon you?

A million surplus Maggies are willing to bear
     the yoke;
And a woman is only a woman, but a good cigar
     is a smoke.

Light me another Cuba; I hold to my first-sworn vows,
If Maggie will have no rival, I'll have no Maggie for spouse!

                                          – RUDYARD KIPLING.

copyright, Kellscraft Studio, 1999
(Return to Web Text-ures)
Return to
Bachelor Ballads
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