Treasure Island

Rudyard Kipling

(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936 / Bombay)

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Cleared


(In Memory of a Commission)

Help for a patriot distressed, a spotless spirit hurt,
Help for an honourable clan sore trampled in the dirt!
From Queenstown Bay to Donegal, O listen to my song,
The honourable gentlemen have suffered grievous wrong.

Their noble names were mentioned -- O the burning black disgrace! --
By a brutal Saxon paper in an Irish shooting-case;
They sat upon it for a year, then steeled their heart to brave it,
And 'coruscating innocence' the learned Judges gave it.

Bear witness, Heaven, of that grim crime beneath the surgeon's knife,
The honourable gentlemen deplored the loss of life!
Bear witness of those chanting choirs that burk and shirk and snigger,
No man laid hand upon the knife or finger to the trigger!

Cleared in the face of all mankind beneath the winking skies,
Like ph]oenixes from Ph]oenix Park (and what lay there) they rise!
Go shout it to the emerald seas -- give word to Erin now,
Her honourable gentlemen are cleared -- and this is how: --

They only paid the Moonlighter his cattle-hocking price,
They only helped the murderer with counsel's best advice,
But -- sure it keeps their honour white -- the learned Court believes
They never gave a piece of plate to murderers and thieves.

They never told the ramping crowd to card a woman's hide,
They never marked a man for death -- what fault of theirs he died? --
They only said 'intimidate', and talked and went away --
By God, the boys that did the work were braver men than they!

Their sin it was that fed the fire -- small blame to them that heard --
The 'bhoys' get drunk on rhetoric, and madden at a word --
They knew whom they were talking at, if they were Irish too,
The gentlemen that lied in Court, they knew, and well they knew.

They only took the Judas-gold from Fenians out of jail,
They only fawned for dollars on the blood-dyed Clanna-Gael.
If black is black or white is white, in black and white it's down,
They're only traitors to the Queen and rebels to the Crown.

'Cleared', honourable gentlemen! Be thankful it's no more: --
The widow's curse is on your house, the dead are at your door.
On you the shame of open shame, on you from North to South
The hand of every honest man flat-heeled across your mouth.

'Less black than we were painted'? -- Faith, no word of black was said;
The lightest touch was human blood, and that, you know, runs red.
It's sticking to your fist to-day for all your sneer and scoff,
And by the Judge's well-weighed word you cannot wipe it off.

Hold up those hands of innocence -- go, scare your sheep together,
The blundering, tripping tups that bleat behind the old bell-wether;
And if they snuff the taint and break to find another pen,
Tell them it's tar that glistens so, and daub them yours again!

'The charge is old'? -- As old as Cain -- as fresh as yesterday;
Old as the Ten Commandments -- have ye talked those laws away?
If words are words, or death is death, or powder sends the ball,
You spoke the words that sped the shot -- the curse be on you all.

'Our friends believe'? -- Of course they do -- as sheltered women may;
But have they seen the shrieking soul ripped from the quivering clay?
They! -- If their own front door is shut,
they'll swear the whole world's warm;
What do they know of dread of death or hanging fear of harm?

The secret half a county keeps, the whisper in the lane,
The shriek that tells the shot went home behind the broken pane,
The dry blood crisping in the sun that scares the honest bees,
And shows the 'bhoys' have heard your talk -- what do they know of these?

But you -- you know -- ay, ten times more; the secrets of the dead,
Black terror on the country-side by word and whisper bred,
The mangled stallion's scream at night, the tail-cropped heifer's low.
Who set the whisper going first? You know, and well you know!

My soul! I'd sooner lie in jail for murder plain and straight,
Pure crime I'd done with my own hand for money, lust, or hate,
Than take a seat in Parliament by fellow-felons cheered,
While one of those 'not provens' proved me cleared as you are cleared.

Cleared -- you that 'lost' the League accounts -- go, guard our honour still,
Go, help to make our country's laws that broke God's law at will --
One hand stuck out behind the back, to signal 'strike again';
The other on your dress-shirt-front to show your heart is clane.

If black is black or white is white, in black and white it's down,
You're only traitors to the Queen and rebels to the Crown.
If print is print or words are words, the learned Court perpends: --
We are not ruled by murderers, but only -- by their friends.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Edited: Friday, December 30, 2011

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Comments about this poem (Cleared by Rudyard Kipling )

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  • Jack Growden (8/4/2013 4:22:00 AM)

    Tremendously passionate piece of poetry! ! Please read my collection! ! I am a young, aspiring poet. Feel free to rate and comment on my pieces. Thanks, Jack Growden (Report) Reply

  • Hunter Hunters (8/4/2012 5:01:00 AM)

    Kipling never went to prison for his words all in the name of poetry. Indeed we are not ruled by murderers but only by their friends. We hope for better future in God's Kingdom. (Report) Reply

  • Michael Harmon (8/4/2009 9:30:00 AM)

    Cognizant there will be hell to pay for this one (since even I love 'Twice Told Tales') , although perhaps I heard something like it somewhere. So forgive me if it sounds like something else, or try to forgive me anyway...


    READING ONLY KIPLING

    At the balmy cliffs of Dover
    Not just once but over over
    Never reading ever others
    Ever reading as your druthers
    Kipling only cause you favor
    Only him and never waver
    Reading only Kipling ever
    Thinking reading other verses
    Claims the clowny crown of curses
    Not just once but over over
    At the balmy cliffs of Dover
    Hearing only Kipling ever.
    Reading only Kipling purely
    Is the cure for Kipling surely.

    Michael Harmon (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (8/4/2009 5:28:00 AM)

    Pretty savage whatever the rights and wrongs of the case! Today there would be a libel case. Only a poem could say what Kipling says. (Report) Reply

Read all 6 comments »

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