The Iron Hand

A poem by John Kendall

'The Government of India has been pleased to sanction the infliction of a fine of ..., etc.'

To him that reads with careless eyes
My present theme affords
But little scope for enterprise
In buttering one's lords:
Fines, he would urge, have always bulked
Largely to Those that rule,
For, plainly, every man They mulct
Contributes to the pool.

But when in ages dead and gone
Our fathers fought with Sin,
However hard they laid it on,
They didn't rub it in;
While These not only bring to bear
Their dark prerogatives,
But diabolically air
The pleasure that it gives!

Here is the Iron Hand that builds
Our realms beyond the sea;
No suaviter in modo gilds
Their fortiter in re;
Here is no washy velvet glove
To pad the Fist of Fear -
None of your guiding charms of Love -
None of your hogwash here!

No. From Their thrones amid the stars
They glower athwart the land
Implacable, with 'eye like Mars
To threaten and command.'
Too cold, too truculent, to stay
The awful bolt They fling,
They make no bones about it - They
Are pleased to do this thing!

Blind to the victim's mask of woe,
Deaf to his poignant howls,
No pity stirs Their bosoms, no
Reluctance wrings Their bow'ls!
By prompt and ready cash alone
Their wrath shall be appeased
Who pile it on like gods, and own,
Like men, to being pleased.

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