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It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation

30 June 2018

It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
To call upon a neighbour and to say: —
“We invaded you last night–we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away.”

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you’ve only to pay ’em the Dane-geld
And then you’ll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say: —
“Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away.”

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say: —

“We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that pays it is lost!”

Rudyard Kipling

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6 Comments to “It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation”

  1. An interesting poem from super-imperialist Rudyard Kipling who was enthusiastic about Great Britain invading, conquering, and asset stripping other nations.

  2. Kipling — always sound.

    The Gods of the Copybook Headings is a perennial favorite.

    http://www.johnderbyshire.com/Readings/gods.html

  3. One of my favourite poems, as relevant today as when it was written. Strange how often we hear politicians making the case for handing over the Danegeld, which is a bit like a child handing over his dinner money to a bully and hoping that’ll be the last of it.

  4. There’s always a sting in the tail with Kipling. My grandfather bequeathed me his copy of the complete poems.

  5. Would Kipling consider an income tax a Danegeld?
    The rules are very similar; pay to be left in peace…for a while.

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