Remembering Kipling

Dane-Geld, A.D. 980-1016, by Rudyard Kipling

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!”

Related Link: Wikipedia’s article on Danegeld

4 thoughts on “Remembering Kipling”

  1. Chandra,

    I can’t remember the exact context in which Kipling wrote this poem, but it was about a hundred years ago.


    You choose your own context 🙂 That’s what poetry is good for !

  2. I was thinking it was with regards to appeasment of Hilter by Britain – by betraying France and other European nations and giving it colonies, before Churchill took charge. But then most British folks, including poets and writers, thought peace with Nazi Germany was the way go.

    So I would have been surprised if Kipling was in Churchill camp before Hitler actually started the war in 1939 to take most of Europe. Hence my question on when he wrote it.

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