The Reformers


Not in the camp his victory lies
 Or triumph in the market-place,
Who is his Nation's sacrifice
To turn the judgement from his race.

Happy is he who, bred and taught
 By sleek, sufficing Circumstance,
Whose Gospel was the apparelled thought,
 Whose Gods were Luxury and Chance,

Seese, on the threshold of his days,
 The old life shrivel like a scroll,
And to unheralded dismays
 Submits his body and his soul;

The fatted shows wherein he stood
 Foregoing, and the idiot pride,
That he may prove with his own blood
 All that his easy sires denied,

Ultimate issues, primal springs,
 Demands, abasements, penalties,
The imperishable plinth of things
 Seen and unseen, that touch our peace.

For, though ensnaring ritual dim
 His vision through the after-years,
Yet virtue shall go out of him,
Example profiting his peers.

With great things charged he shall not hold
 Aloof till great occasion rise,
But serve, full-harnessed, as of old,
 The Days that are the Destinies.

He shall forswear and put away
 The idols of his sheltered house;
And to Necessity shall pay
 Unflinching tribute of his vows.

He shall not plead another's act,
 Nor bind him in another's oath
To weigh the Word above the Fact,
 Or make or take excuse for sloth.

The yoke he bore shall press him still,
 And, long-ingrained effort goad
To find, to fasion, and fulfil
 The cleaner life, the sterner code.

Not in the camp his victory lies,
 The world (unheeding his return)
Shall see it in his children's eyes
 And from his grandson's lips shall learn!


facebook share button twitter share button reddit share button share on pinterest pinterest

Add The Reformers to your library.

Return to the Rudyard Kipling library , or . . . Read the next poem; The Return

© 2022