Back to Index

Macdonough’s Song

by Rudyard Kipling, 1919

Whether the State can loose and bind
            In Heaven as well as on Earth:
          If it be wiser to kill mankind
            Before or after the birth—
          These are matters of high concern
            Where State-kept schoolmen are;
          But Holy State (we have lived to learn)
            Endeth in Holy War.

          Whether The People be led by The Lord,
            Or lured by the loudest throat:
          If it be quicker to die by the sword
            Or cheaper to die by vote—
          These are things we have dealt with once,
            (And they will not rise from their grave)
          For Holy People, however it runs,
            Endeth in wholly Slave.

          Whatsoever, for any cause,
            Seeketh to take or give,
          Power above or beyond the Laws,
            Suffer it not to live!
          Holy State or Holy King—
            Or Holy People’s Will—
          Have no truck with the senseless thing.
            Order the guns and kill!
              Saying—after—me:Once there was The People—Terror gave it birth;
Once there was The People and it made a Hell of Earth.
Earth arose and crushed it. Listen, O ye slain!
Once there was The People—it shall never be again!

Published in Rudyard Kipling's Verse: Inclusive Edition, 1885-1918

Any corrections or public domain poems I should have here? Email me at poems (at) this domain.