Justice

By Rudyard Kipling 1865–1936 Rudyard Kipling

October, 1918

Across a world where all men grieve
   And grieving strive the more,
The great days range like tides and leave
    Our dead on every shore.
Heavy the load we undergo,
    And our own hands prepare,
If we have parley with the foe,
    The load our sons must bear.

Before we loose the word
    That bids new worlds to birth,
Needs must we loosen first the sword
    Of Justice upon earth;
Or else all else is vain
    Since life on earth began,
And the spent world sinks back again
    Hopeless of God and Man.

A People and their King
    Through ancient sin grown strong,
Because they feared no reckoning
    Would set no bound to wrong;
But now their hour is past,
    And we who bore it find
Evil Incarnate held at last
    To answer to mankind.

For agony and spoil
    Of nations beat to dust,
For poisoned air and tortured soil
    And cold, commanded lust,
And every secret woe
    The shuddering waters saw—
Willed and fulfilled by high and low—
    Let them relearn the Law:

That when the dooms are read,
    Not high nor low shall say:—
"My haughty or my humble head
    Has saved me in this day."
That, till the end of time,
    Their remnant shall recall
Their fathers' old, confederate crime
    Availed them not at all:

That neither schools nor priests,
    Nor Kings may build again
A people with the heart of beasts
    Made wise concerning men.
Whereby our dead shall sleep
    In honour, unbetrayed,
And we in faith and honour keep
    That peace for which they paid.

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Poet Rudyard Kipling 1865–1936

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Living, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Syllabic

 Rudyard  Kipling

Biography

Rudyard Kipling is one of the best-known of the late Victorian poets and story-tellers. Although he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1907, his unpopular political views caused his work to be neglected shortly after his death. Critics, however, recognize the power of his work. "His unrelenting craftsmanship, his determination to be 'master of the bricks and mortar of his trade,' compels respect, and his genius as a . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza, Syllabic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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