Lollius

A poem by Rudyard Kipling

Why gird at Lollius if he care
To purchase in the city’s sight,
With nard and roses for his hair,
The name of Knight?

Son of unmitigated sires
Enriched by trade in Afric corn,
His wealth allows, his wife requires,
Him to be born.

Him slaves shall serve with zeal renewed
At lesser wage for longer whiles,
And school- and station-masters rude
Receive with smiles.

His bowels shall be sought in charge
By learned doctors; all his sons
And nubile daughters shall enlarge
Their horizons.

For fierce she-Britons, apt to smite
Their upward-climbing sisters down,
Shall smooth their plumes and oft invite
The brood to town.

For these delights will he disgorge
The State enormous benefice,
But, by the head of either George,
He pays not twice!

Whom neither lust for public pelf,
Nor itch to make orations, vex,
Content to honour his own self
With his own cheques,

That man is clean. At least, his house
Springs cleanly from untainted gold,
Not from a conscience or a spouse
Sold and resold.

Time was, you say, before men knew
Such arts, and rose by Virtue guided?
The tables rock with laughter, you
Not least derided.

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