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THE LEGEND OF EVIL

This is the sorrowful story
Told when the twilight fails
And the monkeys walk together
Holding their neighbours’ tails: —

“Our fathers lived in the forest,
Foolish people were they,
They went down to the cornland
To teach the farmers to play.

“Our fathers frisked in the millet,
Our fathers skipped in the wheat,
Our fathers hung from the branches,
Our fathers danced in the street.

“Then came the terrible farmers,
Nothing of play they knew,
Only. . .they caught our fathers
And set them to labour too!

“Set them to work in the cornland
With ploughs and sickles and flails,
Put them in mud-walled prisons
And — cut off their beautiful tails!

“Now, we can watch our fathers,
Sullen and bowed and old,
Stooping over the millet,
Sharing the silly mould,

“Driving a foolish furrow,
Mending a muddy yoke,
Sleeping in mud-walled prisons,
Steeping their food in smoke.

“We may not speak to our fathers,
For if the farmers knew
They would come up to the forest
And set us to labour too.”

This is the horrible story
Told as the twilight fails
And the monkeys walk together
Holding their kinsmen’s tails.

Р. Киплинг

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