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  • Memorial Day

    Posted by Lexington Green on May 30th, 2011 (All posts by )

    God bless our veterans, living and dead. God bless America.

    Recessional, by Rudyard Kipling (1897)

    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!
    Amen.

    Here is a version of Recessional being sung by Leonard Warren.

    (“Far-called, our navies melt away…” I have always found something very stirring about that phrase. I always imagine the shock of some final military disaster striking, and the news spreading, and weeping and numbed silence, the end of hope, the knowledge that the tide has turned against you at last and forever. May we never see such days. And this: “All valiant dust that builds on dust, and guarding calls not Thee to guard.” I think of that one all the time.)

     

    5 Responses to “Memorial Day”

    1. Gordon Walker Says:

      When I was a school in northern England in the 1950s we used to recite this, about once a month, in assembly. That, “The White Man’s Burden” and “The Gods of the Copy Book Headings” did a lot to dirsct my moral compass.

    2. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Kipling is hard to beat as a man’s poet. Especially a soldier’s.

    3. xj Says:

      May I also recommend The Islanders as being quite appropriate for Memorial Day?

      So, at the threat ye shall summon-so at the need ye shall send
      Men, not children or servants, tempered and taught to the end;
      Cleansed of servile panic, slow to dread or despise,
      Humble because of knowledge, mighty by sacrifice. . . .

      http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/islanders.html

    4. David foster Says:

      When Kipling wrote this, the idea that the British Empire could ever be “one with Nineveh and Tyre” must have seemed utterly fantastic. Given that he wrote the poem for a jubilee that included a massive naval review, it’s almost as if he somehow foresaw the 2011 state of the Royal Navy.

    5. David foster Says:

      Michael K…Kipling and soldiers. Here ‘s a not very well known Kipling poem especiallyappropriate for the day..

      http://www.kipling.org.uk/poems_brigade.htm