Rudyard Kipling

The Pro-consuls

The overfaithful sword returns the user His heart's desire at price of his heart's blood. The clamour of the arrogant accuser Wastes that one hour we needed to make good. This was foretold of old at our outgoing; This we accepted who have squandered, knowing, The strength and glory of our reputations, At the day's need, as it were dross, to guard The tender and new-dedicate foundations Against the sea we fear -- not man's award. They that dig foundations deep, Fit for realms to rise upon, Little honour do they reap Of their generation, Any more than mountains gain Stature till we reach the plain. With noveil before their face Such as shroud or sceptre lend -- Daily in the market-place, Of one height to foe and friend -- They must cheapen self to find Ends uncheapened for mankind. Through the night when hirelings rest, Sleepless they arise, alone, The unsleeping arch to test And the o'er-trusted corner-stone, 'Gainst the need, they know, that lies Hid behind the centuries. Not by lust of praise or show Not by Peace herself betrayed -- Peace herself must they forego Till that peace be fitly made; And in single strength uphold Wearier hands and hearts acold. On the stage their act hath framed For thy sports, O Liberty! Doubted are they, and defamed By the tongues their act set free, While they quicken, tend and raise Power that must their power displace. Lesser men feign greater goals, Failing whereof they may sit Scholarly to judge the souls That go down into the pit, And, despite its certain clay, Heave a new world towards the day. These at labour make no sign, More than planets, tides or years Which discover God's design, Not our hopes and not our fears; Nor in aught they gain or lose Seek a triumph or excuse. For, so the Ark be borne to Zion, who Heeds how they perished or were paid that bore it? For, so the Shrine abide, what shame -- what pride -- If we, the priests, were bound or crowned before it?

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