The Outlaws


Through learned and laborious years
They set themselves to find
Fresh terrors and undreamed-of fears
To heap upon mankind.

ALl that they drew from Heaven above
Or digged from earth beneath,
They laid into their treasure-trove
And arsenals of death:

While, for well-weighed advantage sake,
Ruler and ruled alike
Built up the faith they meant to break
When the fit hour should strike.

They traded with the careless earth,
And good return it gave:
They plotted by their neighbour's hearth
The means to make him slave.

When all was ready to their hand
They loosed their hidden sword,
And utterly laid waste a land
Their oath was pledged to guard.

Coldly they went about to raise
To life and make more dread
Abominations of old days,
That men believed were dead.

They paid the price to reach their goal
Across a world in flame;
But their own hate slew their own soul
Before that victory came.

by Rudyard Kipling

Comments (3)

I found this upon googling for more information on the where's and what's behind this poem- - - - On 4 August 1914, in breach of international law, her own treaty obligations, common sense and common human decency, Germany sent her armies across the frontier into Belgium and laid siege to Liège. The policy of Schrecklichkeit, or frightfulness, was immediately activated. The people of Belgium were to be terrorised into offering no resistance, for the Schlieffen Plan did not permit of delays for any cause. Paris must be entered not more than six weeks after German mobilisation. The Germans persuaded themselves besides that any Belgian resistance, apart from that offered, to their astonishment, by the Belgian army, was illegal, and might be punished by the severest methods. So hostages were taken to secure good civilian behaviour, and when that did not work, were shot: six at Warsage on the first day of the invasion. Simultaneously the village of Battice was burned to the ground, as an example. (11) On 5 August some Belgian priests were shot out of hand on the pretext that they had been organising sharpshooters. On 6 August Zeppelins bombed Liège, thus inaugurating a standard twentieth-century practice, as Barbara Tuchman points out. On 16 August Liège fell, after a defence which excited the world's admiration. On 19 August, at a place called Aerschot,150 civilians were killed. On 20 August Brussels was occupied. That day and the next, massacres occurred at Andenne (211 shot) , Seille (50) and Tamines (384) . The Germans indulged themselves in an orgy of burning and looting. On 23 August Dinant was sacked, and 644 men, women and children were lined up and shot in the public square: included was a baby three weeks old. The roads south and west were by now choked with refugees. Namur fell to the Germans, and there was another massacre at Visé: all those spared fled across the frontier into Holland, except for 700 boys who, in another innovation with a long future, were deported to help with the harvest in Germany. The French fought heroically at the battle of Charleroi, but were nevertheless forced to retreat. The Germans entered Louvain. Two days later they began their sack of Louvain, which went on for nearly a week and was soon the most notorious of their crimes. The town was looted and burned, the inhabitants driven off or massacred, and the great university library, one of the greatest treasures of its kind in Europe, was utterly destroyed. All these incidents were faithfully reported by American newspapermen, and quickly found their way into the British press. The horrified condemnations of the neutral, perhaps even of the Allied, press, seem to have startled the German high command: the sack ended suddenly on Sunday,30 August. - - - - - - - - - - - The Great War and Rudyard Kipling, http: // (by Hugh Brogan)
Brilliant poetry.....
Across the world in flame! ! Thanks for sharing this poem with us.