The Five Nations



(After Boer War)

Rudyard Kipling

DULY 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
    That did not know our God;

As 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 Sky!

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 hush 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.

Wherefore with knees that feign to quake—
    Bent head and shaded brow—
To this dead dog, for my father’s sake,
    In Rimmon’s House I bow!

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