Rudyard Kipling

(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936 / Bombay)

Rimmon


1903 -- After Boer War


Duly with knees that feign to quake--
Bent head and shaded brow,--
Yet once again, for my father's sake,
In Rimmon's House I bow.

The curtains part, the trumpet blares,
And the eunuchs howl aloud;
And the gilt, swag-bellied idol glares
Insolent over the crowd.

"This is Rimmon, Lord of the Earth--
"Fear Him and bow the knee!"

And I watch my comrades hide their mirth
That rode to the wars with me.

For we remember the sun and the sand
And the rocks whereon we trod,
Ere we came to a scorched and a scornful land
That did not know our God;

As we remember the sacrifice,
Dead men an hundred laid--
Slain while they served His mysteries,
And that He would not aid--

Not though we gashed ourselves and wept,
For the high-priest bade us wait;
Saying He went on a journey or slept,
Or was drunk or had taken a mate.

(Praise ye Rimmon, King of Kings,
Who ruleth Earth and Sky!

And again I bow as the censer swings
And the God Enthroned goes by.)

Ay, we remember His sacred ark
And the virtuous men that knelt
To the dark and the hush behind the dark
Wherein we dreamed He dwelt;

Until we entered to hale Him out
And found no more than an old
Uncleanly image girded about
The loins with scarlet and gold.

Him we o'erset with the butts of our spears--
Him and his vast designs--
To be scorn of our muleteers
And the jest of our halted line.

By the picket-pins that the dogs defile,
In the dung and the dust He lay,
Till the priests ran and chattered awhile
And we wiped Him and took Him away.

Hushing the matter before it was known,
They returned to our fathers afar,
And hastily set Him afresh on His throne
Because he had won us the war.

Wherefore with knees that feign to quake--
Bent head and shaded brow--
To this dog, for my father's sake,
In the Rimmon's House I bow!

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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