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Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

Things and the Man

(In Memoriam, Joseph Chamberlain)

1904


"And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren
and they hated him yet the more." -- Genesis xxxvii. 5.


Oh ye who hold the written clue To all save all unwritten things, And, half a league behind, pursue The accomplished Fact with flouts and flings, Look! To your knee your baby brings The oldest tale since Earth began -- The answer to your worryings: "Once on a time there was a Man." He, single-handed, met and slew Magicians, Armies, Ogres, Kings. He lonely 'mid his doubting crew -- "In all the loneliness of wings " -- He fed the flame, he filled the springs, He locked the ranks, he launched the van Straight at the grinning Teeth of Things. "Once on a time there was a Man." The peace of shocked Foundations flew Before his ribald questionings. He broke the Oracles in two, And bared the paltry wires and strings. He headed desert wanderings; He led his soul, his cause, his clan A little from the ruck of Things. "Once on a time there was a Man." Thrones, Powers, Dominions block the view With episodes and underlings -- The meek historian deems them true Nor heeds the song that Clio sings -- The simple central truth that stings The mob to boo, the priest to ban; Things never yet created things -- "Once on a time there was a Man." A bolt is fallen from the blue. A wakened realm full circle swings Where Dothan's dreamer dreams anew Of vast and farborne harvestings; And unto him an Empire clings That grips the purpose of his plan. My Lords, how think you of these things? Once -- in our time -- is there a Man?

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