The City of Brass

Blog Post

I often make reference to Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “The City of Brass” (written in 1909), when referring to the corrupt, morally bankrupt nation that we have become. I post it here for your reference and comment.

America not the first Empire that is being crushed by its own corruption. Maybe we should be happy that it has lasted as long as it has and that we have reaped the rewards of a Republic. But it’s fading in the same way that all man’s empires fade. The City of Brass.

Rudyard Kipling

The City of Brass

“Here was a people whom after their works
thou shalt see wept over for their lost dominion:
and in this palace is the last information
respecting lords collected in the dust.” – The Arabian Nights.

In a land that the sand overlays – the ways to her gates are untrod –
A multitude ended their days whose gates were made splendid by God,
Till they grew drunk and were smitten with madness and went to their fall,
And of these is a story written: but Allah Alone knoweth all!

When the wine stirred in their heart their bosoms dilated.
They rose to suppose themselves kings over all things created –
To decree a new earth at a birth without labour or sorrow –
To declare: “We prepare it to-day and inherit to-morrow.”

They chose themselves prophets and priests of minute understanding,
Men swift to see done, and outrun, their extremest commanding –
Of the tribe which describe with a jibe the perversions of Justice –
Panders avowed to the crowd whatsoever its lust is.

 Swiftly these pulled down the walls that their fathers had made them –
The impregnable ramparts of old, they razed and relaid them
As playgrounds of pleasure and leisure, with limitless entries,
 And havens of rest for the wastrels where once walked the sentries;

And because there was need of more pay for the shouters and marchers,
They disbanded in face of their foemen their yeomen and archers.
They replied to their well-wishers’ fears – to their enemies laughter,
Saying: “Peace! We have fashioned a God Which shall save us hereafter.

We ascribe all dominion to man in his factions conferring,
And have given to numbers the Name of the Wisdom unerring.”
 They said: “Who has hate in his soul? Who has envied his neighbour?
Let him arise and control both that man and his labour.”

They said: “Who is eaten by sloth? Whose unthrift has destroyed him?
He shall levy a tribute from all because none have employed him.”
They said: “Who hath toiled, who hath striven, and gathered possession?
Let him be spoiled. He hath given full proof of transgression.”

They said: “Who is irked by the Law? Though we may not remove it.
If he lend us his aid in this raid, we will set him above it!
So the robber did judgment again upon such as displeased him,
The slayer, too, boasted his slain, and the judges released him.

 As for their kinsmen far off, on the skirts of the nation,
They harried all earth to make sure none escaped reprobation.
They awakened unrest for a jest in their newly-won borders,
And jeered at the blood of their brethren betrayed by their orders.

They instructed the ruled to rebel, their rulers to aid them;
And, since such as obeyed them not fell, their Viceroys obeyed them.
When the riotous set them at naught they said: “Praise the upheaval!
For the show and the world and the thought of Dominion is evil!”

They unwound and flung from them with rage, as a rag that defied them,
The imperial gains of the age which their forefathers piled them.
They ran panting in haste to lay waste and embitter for ever
 The wellsprings of Wisdom and Strengths which are Faith and Endeavour.

They nosed out and digged up and dragged forth and exposed to derision
All doctrine of purpose and worth and restraint and prevision:
 And it ceased, and God granted them all things for which they had striven,
And the heart of a beast in the place of a man’s heart was given.

When they were fullest of wine and most flagrant in error,
Out of the sea rose a sign – out of Heaven a terror.
Then they saw, then they heard, then they knew – for none troubled to hide it,
A host had prepared their destruction, but still they denied it.

They denied what they dared not abide if it came to the trail;
But the Sward that was forged while they lied did not heed their denial.
It drove home, and no time was allowed to the crowd that was driven.
The preposterous-minded were cowed – they thought time would be given.

There was no need of a steed nor a lance to pursue them;
It was decreed their own deed, and not a chance, should undo them.
 The tares they had laughingly sown were ripe to the reaping.
The trust they had leagued to disown was removed from their keeping.

The eaters of other men’s bread, the exempted from hardship,
The excusers of impotence fled, abdicating their wardship,
For the hate they had taught through the State brought the State no defender,
And it passed from the roll of the Nations in headlong surrender!

18 thoughts on “The City of Brass

  1. "They ran panting in haste to lay waste…" It's as if Kipling had met the Obamas and the Clintons in the flesh.

  2. Kipling was total genius.
    I just don't understand this line…'When they were fullest of wine and most flagrant in error,'….

  3. As in all past civilizations that even remotely tried democracy, I'm sure this line refers to the sloth, laziness and complacency that has befallen every democracy as our own. We have gotten fat and sassy, dumping our fundamental values and sticking our hands out. We refuse to take anything seriously because we do not care about personal responsibility which includes having to be an informed electorate. We instead listen to the snake charmers and their promises. always wanting but never caring. Nothing new here, just history repeating itself.

    Kipling in more than one of his writings had a grasp on history and what it should teach us. We are headed down that same path and the sad part is far too many are content with that

  4. LL: a tedious read (City of Brass), but Kipling and Orwell saw this coming a century ago (give or take).

    What Kipling calls 'The eaters of other men’s bread, the exempted from hardship,' are now called the U.S. Democrat Party. And they are on the verge of becoming the dominant power in the US for a generation, or more…

  5. LL: Nero fiddling? Good Lord. Obviously I didn't understand what with me only drinking iced tea and margaritas……And never wine. Never. My English humour fails again.

    Joseph: I can tell you were an English Lit hot shot. Nice analysation of the hidden obscurity that is all so often the veil of the poetic maestro. Kipling certainly did have an excellent grasp. History repeats always. Lesson.
    Never trust a snake charmer…

  6. When governments figure out how to buy votes and have the taxpayers pay for the purchase – things fall apart.

  7. It may last for a generation. Or it may not. Difficult to tell. Another twenty or thirty trillion in debt will break the bank, then the entitled rise up when the Obamaphones are turned off.

  8. Thank you for that Jules. Not an English lit hotshot though. Just a voracious reader and history buff. 🙂

  9. It will be highly interesting when the entitled rise up. When their free shit ends, and they are forced to take another path to survive. Typically, people who live on the labor of others and then suddenly find themselves on their own usually tend to resort to violence.

    What will be interesting, is that these free loaders are also anti-gun on the whole, and they will be confronting an armed opposition (that would be you and me, Virtual Mirage followers) with picket signs, or maybe a brick or two. I'm no military genius, but I can pretty much pick the winner in this show down.

  10. The progs haven't figured out that the "loyal opposition" is the group with 300,000,000 firearms and several trillion rounds of ammo.

  11. Kipling, Service and others are warrior's poets. I started reading them when I was overseas and never stopped.

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