Friday, November 11, 2016

Friday BookReview: "Recessional" by Rudyard Kipling

"In remembrance lies the secret to redemption."

Since the end of the First World War, November 11th has been celebrated as Remembrance Day (or Veterans Day here in our country). It is also known as 'Poppy Day,' as that was the first plant to grow in the churned-up mud of the trenches.


In 1865 Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay -- British India -- where his father taught architectural sculpture. When the end of the century came around, and Queen Victoria celebrated her sixtieth year on the throne, Kipling was asked to craft a work.

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-call'd 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!


So, when the Great War finally ceased after four long years, his hymn-like lines were frequently intoned as a memorial over the millions of men lost.

Here is an audio of the poem.

Mr. Kipling died in London in 1936.

"Then beware lest thou forget the Lord which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt" (Deuteronomy 6)

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