The Five Nations

The Broken Men


Rudyard Kipling

FOR things we never mention,
    For Art misunderstood—
For excellent intention
    That did not turn to good;
From ancient tales’ renewing,
    From clouds we would not clear—
Beyond the Law’s pursuing
    We fled, and settled here.

We took no tearful leaving,
    We bade no long good-byes;
Men talked of crime and thieving,
    Men wrote of fraud and lies.
To save our injured feelings
    ’Twas time and time to go—
Behind was dock and Dartmoor?
    Ahead lay Callao!

The widow and the orphan
    That pray for ten per cent,
They clapped their trailers on us
    To spy the road we went.
They watched the foreign sailings
    (They scan the shipping still),
And that’s your Christian people
    Returning good for ill!

God bless the thoughtful islands
    Where never warrants come;
God bless the just Republics
    That give a man a home,
That ask no foolish questions,
    But set him on his feet;
And save his wife and daughters
    From the workhouse and the street!

On church and square and market
    The noonday silence falls;
You’ll hear the drowsy mutter
    Of the fountain in our halls.
Asleep amid the yuccas
    The city takes her ease—
Till twilight brings the land-wind
    To the clicking jalousies.

Day long the diamond weather,
    The high, unaltered blue—
The smell of goats and incense
    And the mule-bells tinkling through.
Day long the warder ocean
    That keeps us from our kin,
And once a month our levee
    When the English mail comes in.

You’ll find us up and waiting
    To treat you at the bar;
You’ll find us less exclusive
    Than the average English are.
We’ll meet you with a carriage,
    Too glad to show you round,
But—we do not lunch on steamers,
    For they are English ground.

We sail o’ nights to England
    And join our smiling Boards—
Our wives go in with Viscounts
    And our daughters dance with Lords,
But behind our princely doings,
    And behind each coup we make,
We feel there’s Something Waiting,
    And—we meet It when we wake.

Ah God! One sniff of England—
    To greet our flesh and blood—
To hear the traffic slurring
    Once more through London mud!
Our towns of wasted honour—
    Our streets of lost delight!
How stands the old Lord Warden?
    Are Dover’s cliff’s still white?

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