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Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

Justice

October, 1918


Across a world where all men grieve And grieving strive the more, The great days range like tides and leave Our dead on every shore. Heavy the load we undergo, And our own hands prepare, If we have parley with the foe, The load our sons must bear.
Before we loose the word That bids new worlds to birth, Needs must we loosen first the sword Of Justice upon earth; Or else all else is vain Since life on earth began, And the spent world sinks back again Hopeless of God and Man. A People and their King Through ancient sin grown strong, Because they feared no reckoning Would set no bound to wrong; But now their hour is past, And we who bore it find Evil Incarnate hell at last To answer to mankind. For agony and spoil Of nations beat to dust, For poisoned air and tortured soil And cold, commanded lust, And every secret woe The shuddering waters saw -- Willed and fulfilled by high and low -- Let them relearn the Law: That when the dooms are read, Not high nor low shall say: -- "My haughty or my humble head Has saved me in this day." That, till the end of time, Their remnant shall recall Their fathers' old, confederate crime Availed them not at all: That neither schools nor priests, Nor Kings may build again A people with the heart of beasts Made wise concerning men. Whereby our dead shall sleep In honour, unbetrayed, And we in faith and honour keep That peace for which they paid.
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