The crypts, of mighty shades the dwelling places,
The Virgin’s gentle hands, the Saints’ pure faces,
All, even the pardoning hands of Christ the Lord
Were struck and broken by the wanton sword
Of sacrilegious lust.
O beauty slain, O glory in
Strong walls of faith, most basely overthrown!
The crawling flames, like adders glistening
Ate the white fabric of this lovely thing.
Now from its soul arose a piteous moan.
The soul that always loved the just and fair.
Granite and marble loud their woe confessed,
The silver monstrances that Pope has blessed.
The chalices and lamps and crosiers rare
Were seared and twisted by a flaming-breath;
The horror everywhere did rage and swell,
The guardian Saints into this furnace fell,
Their bitter tears and screams were stilled in death.
Around the flames armed hosts
The burning sun reflects the lurid scene;
The German Army fighting for its life,
Rallies its torn and terrified left wing;
And, as they near this place
The imperial eagles see
Before them in their flight,
Here, in the solemn night,
The old cathedrals, to the years to be
Showing, with wounded arms, their own disgrace.
By Rudyard Kipling
The following speech was delivered by Mr. Kipling on Jan. 27, 1915, at a meeting in London promoted by the Recruiting Bands Committee, and held with the object of raising bands in the London district as an aid to recruiting.
The most useful thing that a civilian can do in these busy days is to speak as little as possible, and if he feels moved to write, to confine his efforts to his check book. [Laughter.] But this is an exception to that very sound rule. We do not know the present strength of the new armies. Even if we did it would not be necessary to make it public. But we may assume that there are several battalions in Great Britain which were not in existence at the end of last July, and some of them are in London. Nor is it any part of our national policy to explain how far these battalions are prepared for the work which is ahead of them. They were born quite rightly in silence. But that is no reason why they should continue to walk in silence for the rest of their lives. [Cheers.] Unfortunately up to the present most of them have been obliged to walk in silence or to no better accompaniment than whistles and concertinas and other meritorious but inadequate instruments of music with which they have provided themselves. In the beginning this did not matter so much. More urgent needs had to be met; but now that the new armies are what they are, we who cannot assist them by joining their ranks owe it to them to provide them with more worthy music for their help, their gratification, and their honor. [Cheers.]