McClure's Magazine/Volume 9/Number 6/Recessional

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By special arrangement with Mr. Rudyard Kipling, we print herewith his very remarkable Jubilee poem, "Recessional." At the close of the elaborate and august ceremonies in celebration of the completion of the sixtieth year of the reign of Queen Victoria, when it seemed that every thought and emotion that the occasion could possibly prompt had been more than once expressed, and that nothing more remained to be said, Mr. Kipling quietly sent this poem to the London "Times." At once it was recognized as the strongest and most searching word of all that the Jubilee had called forth. The "Times" gave it the honor of a place immediately under the letter of the Queen expressing her personal gratitude and thanks for the "loyal attachment and real affection "on the part of her subjects which the Jubilee had given proof of. An editorial article in the same number commented on both the letter and the poem, saying of the latter:

"The deep sense of religious feeling and of moral obligation which has colored the whole of the Queen's life will bring her heartily into unison with the spirit of the fine poem by Mr. Rudyard Kipling which we print this morning. There is a tendency, in these days, to rush into dithyrambic raptures over every great exhibition of national power. It is well that we should be reminded by a poet who, more perhaps than any other living man, has been identified with pride of empire and with confidence in the destinies of our race, that there is a spiritual as well as a material side to national greatness. The lesson has been taught before by some of our noblest men of letters—by Milton and Wordsworth, by Burke and Carlyle. We all acknowledge its truth in our hours of serious thought, but, none the less, we need, all of us, the warning words of the seer and the bard—'Lest we forget—lest we forget!' The most dangerous and demoralizing temper into which a state can fall is one of boastful pride. To be humble in our strength, to avoid the excesses of an over-confident vanity, to be as regardful of the rights of others as if we were neither powerful nor wealthy, to shun 'Such boasting as the Gentiles use Or lesser breeds without the Law,'—these are the conditions upon which our dominion by sea and land is based even more than on fleets and armies. At this moment of imperial exaltation, Mr. Kipling does well to remind his countrymen that we have something more to do than to build battleships and multiply guns."


God of our fathers, known of old—
Lord of our far-flung battle-line—
Beneath Whose awful Hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies—
The captains and the kings depart—
Still stands Thine ancient Sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

Far-called our navies melt away—
On dune and headland sinks the fire—
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe—
Such boasting as the Gentiles use
Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard—
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding calls not Thee to guard—
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord! Amen.