Friday, August 19, 2011

The Architect's Alphabet by Rudyard Kipling

The Dean's bungalow at the School of Art Campus in Bombay, in which Rudyard Kipling was not born.

The Architect's Alphabet 
Rudyard Kipling

A was an Architect: B were his Brains
C was the Chaos he wrought when he used 'em
D was the Dissolute course of his Drains
E was the End of the people who used 'em
F were the Fools who allowed him to build
G were his Gehennas of brickbats and lime
H were his houses, bacteria filled
I am the poet who left them in time
J were his Joists- but they broke with the rats on 'em
K were his Kements (I adhere to this spelling)
L were his Leadings- you couldn't swing cats on 'em
M was the Mildew that clove to each dwelling
N was his Notion of saving expense
O were the Odds it would cost like all Tophet
P (please insert for the sake of the sense)
Q were his Quantities, P was his Profit
R were his Roofs which were waterlogged rafts
S for they Sagged (S is also his Sinks)
T the Tornadoes he told us were draughts
U were his Usual Unspecified Stinks
V was the Vengeance I vowed on the head of him
W was Wrong and Waiting and Waste
X is King Xerexes (God knows I have need of him!,
Y and a Yataghan wielded with taste)
Z are Zymotic diseases, a host of 'em
Ambo's my architect, I have got most of 'em.

A poem written by Rudyard Kipling in the 1890s in the margin of a notebook belonging to architect Sir Herbert Baker. 'Ambo' is Ambrose Poynter, an architect, cousin and friend of Kipling. Obviously, Kipling was less than satisfied with his work.

This unpublished poem was discovered in 1968 by the anthologist Kenneth Baker.

I acknowledge the wonderful book 'The Art of Looking Sideways'by Alan Fletcher (Phaidon Press) as the source.

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