Verse > Rudyard Kipling > Verse: 1885–1918
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Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).  Verse: 1885–1918.  1922.
 
The Wage-Slaves
 
1902

OH glorious are the guarded heights
  Where guardian souls abide—
Self-exiled from our gross delights—
  Above, beyond, outside:
An ampler arc their spirit swings—        5
  Commands a juster view—
We have their word for all these things,
  No doubt their words are true.
 
Yet we, the bondslaves of our day,
  Whom dirt and danger press—        10
Co-heirs of insolence, delay,
  And leagued unfaithfulness—
Such is our need must seek indeed
  And, having found, engage
The men who merely do the work        15
  For which they draw the wage.
 
From forge and farm and mine and bench,
  Deck, altar, outpost lone—
Mill, school, battalion, counter, trench,
  Rail, senate, sheepfold, throne—        20
Creation’s cry goes up on high
  From age to cheated age:
“Send us the men who do the work
  “For which they draw the wage!”
 
Words cannot help nor wit achieve,        25
  Nor e’en the all-gifted fool,
Too weak to enter, bide, or leave
  The lists he cannot rule.
Beneath the sun we count on none
  Our evil to assuage,        30
Except the men that do the work
  For which they draw the wage.
 
When through the Gates of Stress and Strain
  Comes forth the vast Event—
The simple, sheer, sufficing, sane        35
  Result of labour spent—
They that have wrought the end unthought
  Be neither saint nor sage,
But only men who did the work
  For which they drew the wage.        40
 
Wherefore to these the Fates shall bend
  (And all old idle things—)
Wherefore on these shall Power attend
  Beyond the grip of kings:
Each in his place, by right, not grace,        45
  Shall rule his heritage—
The men who simply do the work
  For which they draw the wage.
 
Not such as scorn the loitering street,
  Or waste to earn its praise,        50
Their noontide’s unreturning heat
  About their morning ways;
But such as dower each mortgaged hour
  Alike with clean courage—
Even the men who do the work        55
  For which they draw the wage—
Men, like to Gods, that do the work
  For which they draw the wage—
Begin—continue—close that work
  For which they draw the wage!        60
 
 
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