Rudyard Kipling

(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936 / Bombay)

The Song of the Old Guard


Know this, my brethren, Heaven is clear
And all the clouds are gone--
The Proper Sort shall flourish now,
Good times are coming on"--
The evil that was threatened late
To all of our degree
Hath passed in discord and debate,
And,Hey then up go we!

A common people strove in vain
To shame us unto toil,
But they are spent and we remain,
And we shall share the spoil
According to our several needs
As Beauty shall decree,
As Age ordains or Birth concedes,
And, Hey then up go we!

And they that with accursed zeal
Our Service would amend,
Shall own the odds and come to heel
Ere worse befall their end:
For though no naked word be wrote
Yet plainly shall they see
What pinneth Orders on their coat,
And, Hey then up go we!

Our doorways that, in time of fear,
We opened overwide
Shall softly close from year to year
Till all be purified;
For though no fluttering fan be heard .
Nor chaff be seen to flee--
The Lord shall winnow the Lord's Preferred--
And, Hey then up go we!

Our altars which the heathen brake
Shall rankly smoke anew,
And anise, mint and cummin take
Their dread and sovereign due,
Whereby the buttons of our trade
Shall soon restored be
With curious work in gilt and braid,
And, Hey then up go we!

Then come, my brethren, and prepare
The candlesticks and bells,
The scarlet, brass, and badger's hair
Wherein our Honour dwells,
And straitly fence and strictly keep
The Ark's integrity
Till Armageddon break our sleep . . .
And, Hey then go we!

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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