Verse > Rudyard Kipling > Verse: 1885–1918
Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).  Verse: 1885–1918.  1922.
The Question

BRETHREN, how shall it fare with me
  When the war is laid aside,
If it be proven that I am he
  For whom a world has died?
If it be proven that all my good,        5
  And the greater good I will make,
Were purchased me by a multitude
  Who suffered for my sake?
That I was delivered by mere mankind
  Vowed to one sacrifice,        10
And not, as I hold them, battle-blind,
  But dying with open eyes?
That they did not ask me to draw the sword
  When they stood to endure their lot—
That they only looked to me for a word,        15
  And I answered I knew them not?
If it be found, when the battle clears,
  Their death has set me free,
Then how shall I live with myself through the years
  Which they have bought for me?        20
Brethren, how must it fare with me,
  Or how am I justified,
If it be proven that I am he
  For whom mankind has died—
If it be proven that I am he        25
  Who, being questioned, denied?

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