Rudyard Kipling

Epitaphs of the War

A SERVANT We were together since the War began. He was my servant—and the better man. A SON My son was killed while laughing at some jest. I would I knew what it was, and it might serve me in a time when jests are few. AN ONLY SON I have slain none except my Mother. She (Blessing her slayer) died of grief for me. HINDU SEPOY IN FRANCE This man in his own country prayed we know not to what Powers. We pray Them to reward him for his bravery in ours. THE COWARD I could not look on Death, which being known, Men led me to him, blindfold and alone. A GRAVE NEAR CAIRO Gods of the Nile, should this stout fellow here Get out—get out! He knows not shame nor fear. TWO CANADIAN MEMORIALS 1. We giving all gained all. Neither lament us nor praise. Only in all things recall, It is Fear, not Death that slays. 2. From little towns in a far land we came, To save our honour and a world aflame. By little towns in a far land we sleep; And trust that world we won for you to keep! THE BEGINNER On the first hour of my first day In the front trench I fell. (Children in boxes at a play Stand up to watch it well.) R. A. F. (AGED EIGHTEEN) Laughing through clouds, his milk-teeth still unshed, Cities and men he smote from overhead. His deaths delivered, he returned to play Childlike, with childish things now put away. NATIVE WATER-CARRIER (M. E. F.) Prometheus brought down fire to men, This brought up water. The Gods are jealous—now, as then, Giving no quarter. BOMBED IN LONDON On land and sea I strove with anxious care To escape conscription. It was in the air! BATTERIES OUT OF AMMUNITION If any mourn us in the workshop, say We died because the shift kept holiday. COMMON FORM If any question why we died, Tell them, because our fathers lied. DESTROYER IN COLLISION For Fog and Fate no charm is found To lighten or amend. I, hurrying to my bride, was drowned— Cut down by my best friend. CONVOY ESCORT I was a shepherd to fools Causelessly bold or afraid. They would not abide by my rules. Yet they escaped. For I stayed. UNKNOWN FEMALE CORPSE Headless, lacking foot and hand, Horrible I come to land. I beseech all women’s sons Know I was a mother once.

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