The Five Nations

The Reformers


Rudyard Kipling

NOT 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.

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-harnessed, 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,
    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 his victory lies—
    The world (unheeding his return)
Shall see it in his children’s eyes
    And from his grandson’s lips shall learn !

Back    |    Words Home    |    Kipling Home    |    Site Info.    |    Feedback