Tuesday, July 09, 2024

Rudyard Kipling: "The Old Issue"

Gerard N. Magliocca

This was one of Justice Robert Jackson's favorite poems, which he quoted in his opening statement at Nuremberg and in his Youngstown opinion. In light of current events, I thought I'd quote this stanza:

All we have of freedom, all we use or know--

This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.

Ancient Right unnoticed as the breath we draw--

Leave to live by no man's leave, underneath the Law.                    

Lance and torch and tumult, steel and grey-goose wing

Wrenched it, inch and ell and all, slowly from the king.

Till our fathers 'stablished, after bloody years,          

How our King is one with us, first among his peers. 

So they bought us freedom--not at little cost--         

Wherefore must we watch the King, lest our gain be lost.


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