A Servant When He Reigneth
The Poem | The Poet | Current Political Scenario | Poem Analysis
THREE things make earth unquiet
And four she cannot brook
The godly Agur counted them
And put them in a book—
Those Four Tremendous Curses
With which mankind is cursed
But a Servant when He Reigneth
Old Agur entered first.
An Handmaid that is Mistress
We need not call upon,
A Fool when he is full of Meat
Will fall asleep anon.
An Odious Woman Married
May bear a babe and mend,
But a Servant when He Reigneth
Is Confusion to the end.
His feet are swift to tumult,
His hands are slow to toil,
His ears are deaf to reason,
His lips are loud in broil.
He knows no use for power
Except to show his might.
He gives no heed to judgment
Unless it prove him right.
Because he served a master
Before his Kingship came,
And hid in all disaster
Behind his master’s name,
So, when his Folly opens
The unnecessary hells,
A Servant when He Reigneth
Throws the blame on some one else.
His vows are lightly spoken,
His faith is hard to bind,
His trust is easy broken,
He fears his fellow-kind.
The nearest mob will move him
To break the pledge he gave—
Oh a Servant when He Reigneth
Is more than ever slave!
by Rudyard Kipling
The world currently is at the worst it could ever be. Thanks to the leaders sitting at the top. Or could it get even worse? I am not too sure.
There is a leader of one of the biggest superpowers, who like normal people isn’t made up of muscles, bones, and blood. He is rather made up of stupidity, narcissism, ignorance, incompetence, and lies. He can afford to bring the world on the verge of war, just because he can’t bear the fact that the current situation of peace in the country and world is there mainly because his highly competent predecessor signed a peace treaty with some country. And he decided to cancel that denuclearization treaty.
Another leader, in some other country, is such a dictator that he killed his family members just because of the fear that they were becoming too powerful. The man has that cute-fat face that’s always smiling, laughing, and seemingly enjoying himself. But looks deceive, he is actually such a paranoid.
Another leader in a country, just let the country burn and its people die, its wildlife shuffle of the mortal coil, and the whole ecology bite the dust; just because maybe taking actions would be too expensive. And maybe the businessman in him is stopping him from doing that.
In another country, the supreme leader along with his strongest ally, his right-hand man, the most cunning, foxy and sly duo, with the most artful marketing skills are selling lies to deceive the whole country by selling them hopes. While the country suffers and is at its worst, they keep transferring the focus of the main issues, by creating petty turmoils and other issues. All this just to remain in power.
Across the world, the situation is the same. But who is responsible? Those sitting at power alone? We who elected them to power are equally responsible. By not being educated enough to be deceived by the lies, we also equally become a party to the situation.
In this poem, ‘A Servant When He Reigneth‘ Rudyard Kipling perfectly describes such men who come to the power, despite lacking either training or disposition to carry their duty.
Joseph Rudyard Kipling (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936) was an English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He was born in India, which inspired much of his work.
Kipling’s works of fiction include The Jungle Book (1894), Kim (1901), and many short stories, including “The Man Who Would Be King” (1888). His poems include “Mandalay” (1890), “Gunga Din” (1890), “The Gods of the Copybook Headings” (1919), “The White Man’s Burden” (1899), and “If—” (1910). He is seen as an innovator in the art of the short story. His children’s books are classics; one critic noted “a versatile and luminous narrative gift”.
Kipling in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was among the United Kingdom’s most popular writers. Henry James said, “Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius, as distinct from fine intelligence, that I have ever known.” In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, as the first English-language writer to receive the prize, and at 41, its youngest recipient to date. He was also sounded for the British Poet Laureateship and several times for a knighthood but declined both. Following his death in 1936, his ashes were interred at Poets’ Corner, part of the South Transept of Westminster Abbey.
Kipling’s subsequent reputation has changed with the political and social climate of the age. The contrasting views of him continued for much of the 20th century. George Orwell saw Kipling as “a jingo imperialist”, who was “morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting”. Literary critic Douglas Kerr wrote: “[Kipling] is still an author who can inspire passionate disagreement and his place in literary and cultural history is far from settled. But as the age of the European empires recedes, he is recognized as an incomparable, if controversial, interpreter of how empire was experienced. That, and increasing recognition of his extraordinary narrative gifts, make him a force to be reckoned with.”
To read more about Rudyard Kipling, click here.
‘A Servant When He Reigneth’, is this the scenario that explains the status of the leaders across the world? The ones who could be moved by just anyone and their words have no weights left…
Are they really more than ever a slave?
The poem begins with a mention of the four curses that Agur, the son of Jakeh, in his famous book mentioned. The first three, the earth will still bear but the fourth one is absolutely unbearable. The one where we have on the throne an absolutely incapable man. The man who has the disposition of a servant and lacks all the leadership skills. The one who married a mistress, instead of his kind wife. The man who knows no reasoning and is deaf to law. He only uses law, when it helps him in proving himself right. While he was a servant he hid all his sins behind his master’s back and later usurped his master to the throne. He whose words are meaningless and have no value and he is so powerless that “the nearest mob will move him”.
Such are all the world leaders in the present day. Their meaningless words can be found all over twitter. Some like the one who killed his father to be at the throne. Some facing mass agitations within the country for their incapabilities.
And who is responsible? Them or us, who elected them?