Friday, 1 June 2012

Jubilee Poem

There is nothing new under the sun, including Diamond Jubilees for British Queens. Victoria had hers and Rudyard Kipling wrote a rather strange poem about it. He does not do much jubilating, instead warning of doom that impends. The only reference to the street parties and parades is "the tumult and the shouting dies", which is a classic case, incidentally, of two nouns being treated as a single idea and therefore taking a singular verb. It also contains the great phrase of destruction "one with Nineveh and Tyre", which is pretty much what most Briton's livers will be come Tuesday evening.

God of our fathers, known of old—
Lord of our far-flung battle line—
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies—
The Captains and the Kings depart—
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

Far-called our navies melt away—
On dune and headland sinks the fire—
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe—
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard—
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding calls not Thee to guard.
For frantic boast and foolish word,
Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!

The Inky Fool approaching South London


  1. AE Housemans poem is similar, it ends,
    ....get you the sons your fathers got,
    And God will save the Queen.

  2. A rather doomy jubilee tribute from Mr Kipling, in the tradition of "Remember thou art only a man". Interesting