Land & Sea Tales

The Hour of the Angel1

Rudyard Kipling

SOONER or late—in earnest or in jest—
    (But the stakes are no jest) Ithuriel’s Hour
Will spring on us, for the first time, the test
    Of our sole unbacked competence and power
    Up to the limit of our years and dower
Of judgment—or beyond. But here we have
Prepared long since our garland or our grave.
    For, at that hour, the sum of all our past,
    Act, habit, thought, and passion, shall be cast
    In one addition, be it more or less,
    And as that reading runs so shall we do;
    Meeting, astounded, victory at the last,
    Or, first and last, our own unworthiness.
And none can change us though they die to save!

1. Ithuriel was that Archangel whose spear had the magic property of showing every one exactly and truthfully what he was.    [back]

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