Rudyard Kipling.

Collected verse online

. (page 11 of 19)
Online LibraryRudyard KiplingCollected verse → online text (page 11 of 19)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


{Shoal! 'Ware shoal!) Not I!



RUDYARD KIPLING 197

THE OLD ISSUE

OCTOBER 9, 1899

" 1-1

M. J. ERE is nothing new nor aught unproven," say the

Trumpets,

" Many feet have worn it and the road is old indeed.
" It is the King- - the King we schooled aforetime! '

(Trumpets in the marshes in the eijot at Runnymede!)

"* Here is neither haste, nor hate, nor anger," peal the

Trumpets,

" Pardon for his penitence or pity for his fall.
** It is the King! " inexorable Trumpets

(Trumpets round the scaffold at the dawning by White'
hall!)



" He hath veiled the crown and hid the sceptre," warn tht

Trumpets,
" He hath changed the fashion of the lies that cloak his

will.
" Hard die the Kings ah hard dooms hard! " declare

the Trumpets,

Trumpets at the gang-plank where the brawling troop-
decks fill!

Ancient and Unteachable, abide abide the trumpets!
Once again the Trumpets, for the shuddering ground-swell

brings

Clamour over ocean of the harsh pursuing Trumpets
Trumpets of the Vanguard that have sworn no truce with
Kings!

All we have of freedom, all we use or Itnow
This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.



198 COLLECTED VERSE OF

Ancient Right unnoticed as the breath we draw
Leave to live by no man's leave, underneath the Law.

Lance and torch and tumult, steel and grey-goose wing
Wrenched it, inch and ell and all, slowly from the King.

Till our fathers 'stablished, after bloody years,
How our King is one with us, first among his peers.

So they bought us freedom not at little cost
Wherefore must we watch the King, lest our gain be lost.

Over all things certain, this is sure indeed,
Suffer not the old King : for we know the breed.

Give no ear to bondsmen bidding us endure,

Whining " He is weak and far " ; crying " Time shall cure.*

(Time himself is witness, till the battle joins,
Deeper strikes the rottenness in the people's loins.)

Give no heed to bondsmen masking war with peace.
Suffer not the old King here or overseas.

They that beg us barter wait his yielding mood
Pledge the years we hold in trust pawn our brother's
blood

Howso' great their clamour, whatsoe'er their claim,
Suffer not the old King under any name!

Here is naught unproven here is naught to learn.
It is written what shall fall if the King return.

He shall mark our goings, question whence we came,
Set his guards about us, as in Freedom's name.

He shall take a tribute, toll of all our ware;

He shall change our gold for arms arms we may not bear



RUDYARD KIPLING 193

He shall break his Judges if they cross his word;
He shall rule above the Law calling on the Lord.

He shall peep and mutter ; and the night shall bring
Watchers 'neath our window, lest we mock the King

Hate and all division; hosts of hurrying spies;
Money poured in secret, carrion breeding flies.

Strangers of his counsel, hirelings of his pay,
These shall deal our Justice : sell deny delay.

We shall drink dishonour, we shall eat abuse

For the Land we look to for the Tongue we use.

We shall take our station, dirt beneath his feet,
While his hired captains jeer us in the street.

Cruel in the shadow, crafty in the sun,

Far beyond his borders shall his teachings run.

Sloven, sullen, savage, secret, uncontrolled
Laying on a new land evil of the old;

Long- forgotten bondage, dwarfing heart and brain
All our fathers died to loose he shall bind again.

Here is naught at venture, random nor untrue
Swings the wheel full-circle, brims the cup anew.

Here is naught unprovei., here is nothing hid:

Step for step and word for word so the old Kings did

Step by step, and word by word: who is ruled may read.
Suffer not the old Kings for we know the breed

All the right they promise all the wrong they bring.
Stewards of the Judgment, suffer not this King!



200 COLLECTED VERSE OF

THE LESSON

(1899-1902)

LjET us admit it fairly, as a business people should,

We have had no end of a lesson: it will do us no end of good,.

Not on a single issue, or in one direction or twain,

But conclusively, comprehensively, and several times and

again,
Were all our most holy illusions knocked higher than Gilde-

roy's kite.
We have had a jolly good lesson, and it serves us jolly well

right !

This was not bestowed us under the trees, nor yet in the shade
of a tent,

But swingingly, over eleven degrees of a bare brown conti-
nent.

From Lamberts to Delagoa Bay, and from Pietersburg to
Sutherland,

Fell the phenomenal lesson we learned with a fulness ac-
corded no other land.

It was our fault, and our very great fault, and not the

judgment of Heaven.
We made an Army in our own image, on an island nine by

seven,
Which faithfully mirrored its makers' ideals, equipment, and

mental attitude
And so we got our lesson: and we ought to accept it with

gratitude.

We have spent two hundred million pounds to prove the fact

once more,
That horses are quicker than men afoot, since two and two

make four:



RUDYARD KIPLING 201

And horses have four legs, and men have two legs, and two

into four goes twice,
And nothing over except our lesson - - and very cheap at the

price.

For remember (this our children shall know: we are too near

for that knowledge)
Not our mere astonied camps, but Council and Creed and

College
All the obese, unchallenged old things that stifle and overlie

us
Have felt the effects of the lesson we got an advantage no

money could buy us !

Then let us develop this marvellous asset which we alone

command,
And which, it may subsequently transpire, will be worth as

much as the Rand:
Let us approach this pivotal fact in a humble yet hopeful

mood
We have had no end of a lesson : it will do us no end of good !

It was our fault, and our very great fault and now we

must turn it to use;
We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single

excuse !
So the more we work and the less we talk the better results

we shall get
We have had an Imperial lesson ; it may make us an Empire

yet!



202 COLLECTED VEKM OF

THE ISLANDERS

1902

/V doubt but ye are the People your throne is above tht

King's.

Whoso speaks in your presence must say acceptable things:
Bowing the head in worship, bending the knee in fear
Bringing the word well smoothen such as a King should

hear.

Fenced by your careful fathers, ringed by your leaden seas,

Long did ye wake in quiet and long lie down at ease ;

Till ye said of Strife, " What is it? " of the Sword, " It is far

from our ken " ;
Till ye made a sport of your shrunken hosts and a toy of your

armed men.
Ye stopped your ears to the warning ye would neither

look .or heed
Ye set your leisure before their toil and your lusts above their

need.
Because of your witless learning and your beasts of warren

and chase,
Ye grudged your sons to their service and your fields for their

camping-place.
Ye forced them glean in the highways the straw for the bricks

they brought ;
Ye forced them follow in byways the craft that ye never

taught.
Ye hindered and hampered and crippled; ye thrust out of

sight and away
Those that would serve you for honour and those that served

you for pay.
Then were the judgments loosened; then was your shame

revealed,
At the hands of a little people, few but apjH in *he field.



RUDYARD KIPLING 203

Yet ye were saved by a remnant (and your land's long-
suffering star),
(Vhen your strong men cheered in their millions while your

striplings went to the war.

Sons of the sheltered city unmade, unhandled, unmeet
Ye pushed them raw to the battle as ye picked them raw from

the street.
And what did ye look they should compass? Warcraft

learned in a breath,

Knowledge unto occasion at the first far view of Death?
So! And ye train your horses and the dogs ye feed and

prize?

How are the beasts more worthy than the souls your sacrifice?
But ye said, " Their valour shall show them " ; but ye said,

" The end is close."
And ye sent them comfits and pictures to help them harry

your foes,
And ye vaunted your fathomless power, and ye flaunted your

iron pride,
Ere ye fawned on the Younger Nations for the men who

could shoot and ride !
Then ye returned to your trinkets ; then ye contented youi

souls
With the flannelled fools at the wicket or the muddied oafs at

the goals.

Given to' strong delusion, wholly believing a lie,
Ye saw that the land lay fenceless, and ye let the months go

.by

Waiting some easy wonder : hoping some saving sign
Idle openly idle in the lee of the forespent Line.
Idle except for your boasting and what is your boast-
ing worth

If ye grudge a year of service to the lordliest life on earth?
Ancient, effortless, ordered, cycle on cycle set,
Life so long untroubled, that ye who inherit forget
It was not made with the mountains, it is not one with th/

deep.



COLLECTED VERSE OF

Men, not gods, devised it. Men, not gods, must keep.
Men, not children, servants, or kinsfolk called from afar,
But fach man born in the Island broke to the matter of war.
Soberly and by custom taken and trained for the same;
Each man bum in the Island entered at youth to the game
As it were, almost cricket, not to be mastered in haste,
But after trial and labour, by temperance, living chaste.
As it wer'i almost cricket as it were even your play,
Weighed aud pondered and worshipped, and practised day

ai?,d day.
So ye shall bide sure-guarded when the restless lightnings



walce



In the womb of the blotting war-cloud, and the pallid nations

quake.

So, at the haggard trumpets, instant your soul shall leap
Forthright, accoutred, accepting alert from the wells of

sleep.
So at the threat ye shall summon so at the need ye shall

send
ilen, not children or servants, tempered and taught to the

end;

Cleansed of servile panic, slow to dread or despise,
Humble because of knowledge, mighty by sacrifice. . . .
But ye say, " It will mar our comfort." Ye say, " It will

minish our trade,"
Do ye wait for the spattered shrapnel ere ye learn how a gun

is laid?

For the low. red glare to southward when the raided coast-
towns burn?

(Light ye shall have on thai lesson, but little time to learn.)
Will ye pitch some white pavilion^ and lustily even the odds,
With nets and hoops and mallets, with rackets and bats and

rods?
Will the rabbit war with your foemen the red deer horn

them for hire?
Your kept cock-pheasant keep you? he is master of manj

a shire



RUDYARD KIPLING 205

Arid, aloof, incurious, unthinking, unthanking, gelt,

Will ye loose your schools to flout them till their brow-beat

columns melt?
Will ye pray them or preach them, or print them, or ballot

them back from your shore?
Will your workmen issue a mandate to bid them strike no

more ?
Will ye rise and dethrone your rulers? (Because ye were idle

both?

Pride by Insolence chastened? Indolence purged by Sloth?)
No doubt but ye are the People; who shall make you afraid?
Also your gods are many ; no doubt but your gods shall aid.
Idols of greasy altars built for the body's ease ;
Proud little brazen Baals and talking fetishes ;
Teraphs of sept and party and wise wood-pavement gods
These shall come down to the battle and snatch you from

under the rods?
From the gusty, flickering gun-roll with viewless salvoes

rent,
And the pitted hail of the bullets that tell not whence they

were sent.
When ye are ringed as with iron, when ye are scourged as

with whips,
When the meat is yet in your belly, and the boast is yet on

your lips ;
When ye go forth at morning and the noon beholds you

broke,
Ere ye lie down at even, your remnant, under the yoke?

No doubt but ye are the People absolute, strong, and wise;
Whatever your heart has desired, ye have not withheld from

your eyes.
On your own heads, in your own hands, the sin and the saving

lies!



06 COLLECTED VERSE OF

THE DYKES

1902

W E have no heart for the fishing, we have no hand for the

oar

All that our fathers taught us of old pleases us now no more ;
All that our own hearts bid us believe we doubt where we do

not deny
There is no proof in the bread we eat or rest in the toil we

ply-
Look you, our foreshore stretches far through sea-gate,

dyke, and groin
Made land all, that our fathers made, where the flats and the

fairway join.
They forced the sea a sea-league back. They died, and their

work stood fast.
We were born to peace in the lee of the dykes, but the time

of our peace is past.

Far off, the full tide clambers and slips, mouthing and testing
all,

Nipping the flanks of the water-gates, baying along the wall ;

Turning the shingle, returning the shingle, changing the set
of the sand . . .

We are too far from the beach, men say, to know how the out-
works stand.

So we come down, uneasy, to look, uneasily pacing the beach.
These are the dykes our fathers made: we have never known

a breach.

Time and again has the gale blown by and we were not afraid ;
Now we come only to look at the dykes at the dykes our

fathers made.



RUDYARD KIPLING 207

O'er the marsh where the homesteads cower apart the har*

ried sunlight flies,
Shifts and considers, wanes and recovers, scatters and sickens

and dies
An evil ember bedded in ash a spark blown west by the

wind . . .
We are surrendered to night and the sea the gale and the

tide behind !

At the bridge of the lower saltings the cattle gather and blare,
Roused by the feet of running men, dazed by the lantern

glare.
Unbar and let them away for their lives the levels drown

as they stand,
Where the flood-wash forces the sluices aback and the ditches

deliver inland.

Ninefold deep to the top of the dykes the galloping breakers

stride,
And their overcarried spray is a sea a sea on the landward

side.
Coming, like stallions they paw with their hooves, going they

snatch with their teeth,
Till the bents and the furze and the sand are dragged out,

and the old-time hurdles beneath!

Bid men gather fuel for fire, the tar, the oil and the tow
Flame we shall need, not smoke, in the dark if the riddled

sea-banks go.
Bid the ringers watch in the tower (who knows what the

dawn shall prove?)
Each with his rope between his feet and the trembling bells

above.

Now we can only wait till the day, wait and apportion our

shame.
These are the dykes our fathers left, but we would not look

to the same.



208 COLLECTED VERSE OF

Time and again were we warned of the dykes, time and

we delayed:
Now, it may fall, we have slain our sons as our fathers we

have betrayed.



Walking along the wreck of the dykes, watching the work of

the seas,
These were the dykes our fathers made to our great profit

and ease ;
But the peace is gone and the profit is gone, and the old sure

day withdrawn . .
That our own houses show as strange when we come back in

the dawn!



THE WAGE-SLAVES

> 902

glorious are 4ie guarded heights

Where guardian ^ouls abide
Self-exiled from ou 1 gross delights

Above, beyond, outside:
An ampler arc their spirit swings -

Commands a juster view
We have their word for all these thing;

Nor doubt their w>rds are true.

Yet we the bondslaves of our day,

Whom dirt and da iger press
Co-heirs of insolence, lelay,

And leagued unfaithfulness
Such is our need must seek indeed

And, having found, -ngage
The men who merely d- the work

For which they draw *he wage.



RUDYARD KIPLING 209

From forge and farm and mine and bench.

Deck, altar, ou'cpost lone
Mill, school, battalion, counter, trench,

Rail, senate, sheepfoid, throne
Creation's cry goes up on high

From age to cheated age :
*' Send us the men who do the work

" For which they draw the wage."



Words cannot help nor wit achieve,

Nor e'en the all-gifted fool,
Too weak to enter, bide, or leave

The lists he cannot rule.
Beneath the sun we count on none

Our evil to assuage,
Except the men that do the work

For which they draw the wage.

When through the Gates of Stress and Strain

Comes forth the vast Event
The simple, sheer, sufficing, sane

Result of labour spent
They that have wrought the end unthought

Be neither saint nor sage,
But only men who did the work

For which they drew the wage.

Wherefore to these the Fates shall bend

(And all old idle things )
Wherefore on these shall Power attend

Beyond the grip of kings :
Each in his place, by right, not grace,

Shall rule his heritage
The men who simply do the work

For which they draw the wage.

14



210 COLLECTED VERSE OF

Not such as scorn the loitering street,

Or waste to earn its praise,
Their noontide's unreturning heat

About their morning ways:
But such as dower each mortgaged hour

Alike with clean courage
Even the men who do the work

For which they draw the wage
Men like to Gods that do the work

For which they draw the wage
Begin continue - - close that work

For which they draw the wage!



RIMMON

1903

'ULY with knees that feign to quake
Bent head and shaded brow,
Yet once again, for my father's sake,
In Rimmon's House I bow.

The curtains part, the trumpet blares,

And the eunuchs howl aloud ;
And the gilt, swag-bellied idol glares

Insolent over the crowd.

" This is Rimmon, Lord of the Earth
" Fear Him and bow the knee! '

And I watch my comrades hide their mirth
That rode to the wars with me.

For we remember the sun and the sand

And the rocks whereon we trod,
Ere we came to a scorched and a scornful land
did not know our God*



RUDYARD KIPLING 21!

B.S we remember the sacrifice

Dead men an hundred laid
Slain while they served His mysteries

And that He would not aid.

Not though we gashed ourselves and wept.

For the high-priest bade us wait ;
Saying He went on a journey or slept,

Or was drunk or had taken a mate.

(Praise ye Rimmon, King of Kings,

Who ruleth Earth and Shy!
And again I bow as the censer swings

And the God Enthroned goes by.)

Ay, we remember His sacred ark

And the virtuous men that knelt
To the dark and the '.lush behind the dark

Wherein we dreamed He dwelt ;

Until we entered to hale Him out,

And found no more than an old
Uncleanly image girded about

The loins with scarlet and gold.

Him we o'erset with the butts of our spears '

Him and his vast designs
To be the scorn of our muleteers

And the jest of our halted lines.

By the picket-pins that the dogs defile,

In the dung and the dust He lay,
Till the priests ran and chattered awhile

And wiped Him and took Him away.

Hushing the matter before it was known,

They returned to our fathers afar,
And hastily set Him afresh on His throne

Because He had won us the war.



COLLECTED VERSE OF

Wherefore with knees that feign to quake-
Bent head arid shaded brow

To this dead dog, for my father's sake,
In Rimmon's House I bow.



THE REFORMERS

1901

J\ OT in the camp his victory lies
Or triumph in the market-place,

Who is his Nation's sacrifice.

To turn the judgment from his race.

Happy is he who, bred and taught
By sleek, sufficing Circumstance

Whose Gospel was the apparelled thoughts
Whose Gods were Luxury and Chance

Sees, on the threshold of his days,
The old life shrivel like a scroll.

And to unheralded dismays
Submits his body and his soul ;

The fatted shows wherein he stood
Foregoing, and the idiot pride,

That he may prove with his own blood
All that his easy sires denied

Ultimate issues, primal springs,
Demands, abasements, penalties

The imperishable plinth of things

Seen and unseen, that touch our peace



RUDYARD KIPLING

For, though ensnaring ritual dim
His vision through the after-years,

Yet virtue shall go out of him:
Example profiting his peers.

With great things charged he shall not hold

Aloof till great occasion rise,
But serve, full-hamessed, as of old,

The Days that are the Destinies.

He shall forswear and put away
The idols of his sheltered house ;

And to Necessity shall pay

Unflinching tribute of his vows.

He shall not plead another's act,

Nor bind him in another's oath
To weigh the Word above the Fact v

Or make or take excuse for sloth.

The yoke he bore shall press him still.
And long-ingrained effort goad

To find, to fashion, and fulfil

The cleaner life, the sterner code.

Not in the camp Ms victory lies
The world (unheeding his return)

Shall see it in his children's eyes

And from his grandson's lips shall learn



COLLECTED VERSE OF



THE OLD MEN

1902

J. HIS is our lot if we lire so long and labour unto the end
That we outlive the impatient years and the much too patient

friend :
And because we know we have breath in our mouth and think

we have thought in our head,
We shall assume that we are alive, whereas we are really dead.

We shall not acknowledge that old stars fade or alien planets

arise
(That the sere bush buds or the desert blooms or the ancient

well-head dries),

Or any new compass wherewith new men adventure 'neath
skies.



We shall lift up the ropes that constrained our youth, to bind

MI our children's hands ;
We shall call to the water below the bridges to return and

replenish our lands ;
We shall harness horses (Death's own pale horses) and

scholarly plough the sands.

We shall lie down in the eye of the sun for lack of a light on

our way
We shall rise up when the day is done and chirrup, " Behold,

it is day ! "
We shall abide till the battle is won ere we amble into the

fray.

We shall peck out and discuss and dissect, and evert and ex-

trude to our mind,
The flaccid tissues of long-dead issues offensive to God and

mankind
{Precisely like vultures over an ox that the Army has left

behind).




RUDYARD KIPLING 21.1

We shall make walk preposterous ghosts of the glories we once

created
(Immodestly smearing from muddled palettes amazing pig'

ments mismatrd)
And our friends will weep when we ask them with boasts if

our natural force be abated.

The Lamp of our Youth will be utterly out: but we shall

subsist on the smell of it,
And whatever we do, we shall fold our hands and suck our

gums and think well of it.
Yes, we shall be perfectly pleased with our work, and that

is the Perfectest Hell of it !



This is our lot if we live so long and listen to those who love

us
That we are shuwd by the people about and shamed by the

Powers above us.
Wherefore be free of your harness betimes; but being free be

assured,
That he who hath not endured to the death, from his birth he

hath never endured!



THE WHITE MAN'S BURDEN

1899

1 AKE up the White Man's burden

Send forth the best ye breed
Go bind your sons to exile

To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness,

On fluttered folk and wild
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,

Half-devil and half-child



216 COLLECTED VERSE OF

Take up the White Man's burden

In patience to" abide,
To veil the threat of terror

And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,

An hundred times made plain,
To seek another's profit,

And work another's gain.

Take up the White Man's burden-

The savage wars of peace
Fill full the mouth of Famine

And bid the sickness cease ;
And when your goal is nearest

The end for others sought,
Watch Sloth and heathen Folly

Bring all your hope to nought.

Take up the White Man's burden -

No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper

The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,

The roads ye shall not tread,
Go make them with your living,

And mark them with your dead.

Take yp the White Man's burden -

And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,

The hate of those ye guard
The cry of hosts ye humour

(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:
** Why brought yt us from bondage,

" Our loved Egyptian night? ' :

Take up the White Man's burden

Ye dare not stoop to less
Nor call too loud on Freedom

TV



RUDYARD KIPLING SIT

By all ye cry or whisper,

By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples

Shall weigh your Gods and you.

Take up the White Man's burden

Have done with childish days
The lightly proffered laurel,

The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood

Through all the thankless years,
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom.

The judgment of your peers!



HYMN BEFORE ACTION
1896

1 HE earth is full of anger,

The seas are dark with wrath,
The Nations in their harness

Go up against our path :
Ere yet we loose the legions

Ere yet we draw the blade,
Jehovah of the Thunders,

Lord God of Battles, aid!

High lust and froward bearing,

Proud heart, rebellious brow
Deaf ear and soul uncaring,

We seek Thy mercy now !
The sinner that forswore Thee,

The fool that passed Thee by,
Our times are known before Thee *


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Online LibraryRudyard KiplingCollected verse → online text (page 11 of 19)