Verse > Rudyard Kipling > Verse: 1885–1918
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Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).  Verse: 1885–1918.  1922.
 
The Reformers
 
1901

NOT in the camp his victory lies
  Or triumph in the market-place,
Who is his Nation’s sacrifice
  To turn the judgment from his race.
 
Happy is he who, bred and taught        5
  By sleek, sufficing Circumstance—
Whose Gospel was the apparelled thought,
  Whose Gods were Luxury and Chance—
 
Sees, on the threshold of his days,
  The old life shrivel like a scroll,        10
And to unheralded dismays
  Submits his body and his soul;
 
The fatted shows wherein he stood
  Foregoing, and the idiot pride,
That he may prove with his own blood        15
  All that his easy sires denied—
 
Ultimate issues, primal springs,
  Demands, abasements, penalties—
The imperishable plinth of things
  Seen and unseen, that touch our peace.        20
 
For, though ensnaring ritual dim
  His vision through the after-years,
Yet virtue shall go out of him—
  Example profiting his peers.
 
With great things charged he shall not hold        25
  Aloof till great occasion rise,
But serve, full-harnessed, as of old,
  The Days that are the Destinies.
 
He shall forswear and put away
  The idols of his sheltered house;        30
And to Necessity shall pay
  Unflinching tribute of his vows.
 
He shall not plead another’s act,
  Nor bind him in another’s oath
To weigh the Word above the Fact,        35
  Or make or take excuse for sloth.
 
The yoke he bore shall press him still,
  And, long-ingrainèd effort goad
To find, to fashion, and fulfil
  The cleaner life, the sterner code.        40
 
Not in the camp his victory lies
  The world (unheeding his return)
Shall see it in his children’s eyes
  And from his grandson’s lips shall learn!
 
 
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