Verse > Rudyard Kipling > Verse: 1885–1918
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Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).  Verse: 1885–1918.  1922.
 
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        5
    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.        10
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.        15
    “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.        20
  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        25
  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;        30
  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        35
  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?        40
 
 
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