British military historian John Keegan dearly loves the United States, and has visited the country many times. However, he thinks we have an appalling climate in the summer, especially the hot, muggy summers of the Midwest which he experienced first hand on his initial trip here in the fifties. He has compared the US climate in the summer in the Midwest unfavorably to the climate in summer of much of India. Having endured the current heat wave in Central Illinois for many weeks, the worst since the great drought of 1988, I am inclined to agree with him. Perhaps it is my Newfoundland blood, but I have always been fond of cold weather and despised hot weather. In tribute to the agony inducing qualities of heat, I submit this poem by Rudyard Kipling. With this poem, no commentary by me is necessary!
The toad beneath the harrow knows
Exactly where each tooth-point goes.
The butterfly upon the road
Preaches contentment to that toad.
Pagett, M.P., was a liar, and a fluent liar therewith -
He spoke of the heat of India as the “Asian Solar Myth”;
Came on a four months’ visit, to “study the East,” in November,
And I got him to sign an agreement vowing to stay till September.
March came in with the koil. Pagett was cool and gay,
Called me a “bloated Brahmin,” talked of my “princely pay.”
March went out with the roses. “Where is your heat?” said he.
“Coming,” said I to Pagett, “Skittles!” said Pagett, M.P.
April began with the punkah, coolies, and prickly-heat, -
Pagett was dear to mosquitoes, sandflies found him a treat.
He grew speckled and mumpy-hammered, I grieve to say,
Aryan brothers who fanned him, in an illiberal way.
May set in with a dust-storm, – Pagett went down with the sun.
All the delights of the season tickled him one by one.
Imprimis – ten day’s “liver” – due to his drinking beer;
Later, a dose of fever – slight, but he called it severe.
Dysent’ry touched him in June, after the Chota Bursat -
Lowered his portly person – made him yearn to depart.
He didn’t call me a “Brahmin,” or “bloated,” or “overpaid,”
But seemed to think it a wonder that any one stayed.
July was a trifle unhealthy, – Pagett was ill with fear.
‘Called it the “Cholera Morbus,” hinted that life was dear.
He babbled of “Eastern Exile,” and mentioned his home with tears;
But I haven’t seen my children for close upon seven years.
We reached a hundred and twenty once in the Court at noon,
(I’ve mentioned Pagett was portly) Pagett, went off in a swoon.
That was an end to the business; Pagett, the perjured, fled
With a practical, working knowledge of “Solar Myths” in his head.
And I laughed as I drove from the station, but the mirth died out on my lips
As I thought of the fools like Pagett who write of their “Eastern trips,”
And the sneers of the travelled idiots who duly misgovern the land,
And I prayed to the Lord to deliver another one into my hand.