Ave Imperatrix!

Rudyard Kipling

(Written on the occasion of the attempt to assassinate Queen Victoria in March 1882)

FROM every quarter of your land
    They give God thanks who turned away
Death and the needy madman’s hand,
    Death-fraught, which menaced you that day.

One school of many made to make
    Men who shall hold it dearest right
To battle for their ruler’s sake,
    And stake their being in the fight,

Sends greeting humble and sincere—
    Though verse be rude and poor and mean—
To you, the greatest as most dear—
    Victoria, by God’s grace Our Queen!

Such greeting as should come from those
    Whose fathers faced the Sepoy hordes,
Or served you in the Russian snows,
    And, dying, left their sons their swords.

And some of us have fought for you
    Already in the Afghan pass—
Or where the scarce-seen smoke-puffs flew
    From Boer marksmen in the grass;

And all are bred to do your will
    By land and sea—wherever flies
The Flag, to fight and follow still,
    And work your Empire’s destinies.

Once more we greet you, though unseen
    Our greeting be, and coming slow.
Trust us, if need arise, O Queen,
    We shall not tarry with the blow!

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