Verse > Rudyard Kipling > Verse: 1885–1918
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Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).  Verse: 1885–1918.  1922.
 
The Heritage
 
OUR Fathers in a wondrous age,
  Ere yet the Earth was small,
Ensured to us an heritage,
  And doubted not at all
That we, the children of their heart,        5
  Which then did beat so high,
In later time should play like part
  For our posterity.
 
A thousand years they steadfast built,
  To ’vantage us and ours,        10
The Walls that were a world’s despair,
  The sea-constraining Towers:
Yet in their midmost pride they knew,
  And unto Kings made known,
Not all from these their strength they drew,        15
  Their faith from brass or stone.
 
Youth’s passion, manhood’s fierce intent,
  With age’s judgment wise,
They spent, and counted not they spent,
  At daily sacrifice.        20
Not lambs alone nor purchased doves
  Or tithe of trader’s gold—
Their lives most dear, their dearer loves,
  They offered up of old.
 
Refraining e’en from lawful things,        25
  They bowed the neck to bear
The unadornèd yoke that brings
  Stark toil and sternest care.
Wherefore through them is Freedom sure;
  Wherefore through them we stand,        30
From all but sloth and pride secure,
  In a delightsome land.
 
Then, fretful, murmur not they gave
  So great a charge to keep,
Nor dream that awestruck Time shall save        35
  Their labour while we sleep.
Dear-bought and clear, a thousand year,
  Our fathers’ title runs.
Make we likewise their sacrifice,
  Defrauding not our sons.        40
 
 
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