At His Execution

The twelfth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling.   The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , herehere , here, here, here, here , here and here.  Kipling was not conventionally religious.  He once described himself jokingly as a pious Christian atheist.  However, many of his poems dealt with religious themes.  One of his most moving religious poems he wrote in 1932, four years before his death.

At His Execution

 

I am made all things to all men–

Hebrew, Roman, and Greek–

In each one’s tongue I speak,

Suiting to each my word,

That some may be drawn to the Lord!

I am made all things to all men–

In City or Wilderness

Praising the crafts they profess

That some may be drawn to the Lord–

By any means to my Lord!

Since I was overcome

By that great Light and Word,

I have forgot or forgone

The self men call their own

(Being made all things to all men)

So that I might save some

At such small price to the Lord,

As being all things to all men.

I was made all things to all men,

But now my course is done–

And now is my reward…

Ah, Christ, when I stand at Thy Throne

With those I have drawn to the Lord,

Restore me my self again!

The poem is of course a tribute to Saint Paul as he awaited his execution at the command of Nero in Rome.  The first stanza celebrates the universal nature of Saint Paul’s mission to the Jews, Greeks and Romans, to anyone and everyone who would hear the Good News.

Hebrew, Roman, and Greek–

In each one’s tongue I speak,

Suiting to each my word,

That some may be drawn to the Lord!

Next Kipling celebrates the energy of Paul that took him through endless cities and wilderness preaching the Gospel to save as many as he could with the light of Christ.

I am made all things to all men–

In City or Wilderness

Praising the crafts they profess

That some may be drawn to the Lord–

By any means to my Lord!

Kipling notes that when Christ gave Paul his Great Commission, it meant the death of Paul to himself, since he was now all things to all men to draw them one by one to Christ.

Since I was overcome

By that great Light and Word,

I have forgot or forgone

The self men call their own

(Being made all things to all men)

So that I might save some

At such small price to the Lord,

As being all things to all men.

Kipling ends the poem with a prayer by Saint Paul that when he stands before Christ with those he has brought to Him that Paul may be restored to himself now that his mission is accomplished.

I was made all things to all men,

But now my course is done–

And now is my reward…

Ah, Christ, when I stand at Thy Throne

With those I have drawn to the Lord,

Restore me my self again!

I hope that after Kipling’s death he found himself standing before the throne, the latest of souls drawn to Christ through the mission of Saint Paul.

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Published in: on August 26, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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One Comment

  1. [...] the series may be read here, here , here , here,  here , here, here, here, here , here, here and here.     I have noted several times in this series that Kipling was not conventionally religious, [...]


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