The Question

Brethren, how shall it fare with me
 When the war is laid aside,
If it be proven that I am he
 For whom a world has died?
If it be proven that all my good,
 And the greater good I will make,
Were purchased me by a multitude
 Who suffered for my sake?
That I was delivered by mere mankind
 Vowed to one sacrifice,
And not, as I hold them, battle-blind,
 But dying with open eyes?
That they did not ask me to draw the sword
 When they stood to endure their lot —
That they only looked to me for a word,
 And I answered I knew them not?
If it be found, when the battle clears,
 Their death has set me free,
Then how shall I live with myself through the years
Which they have bought for me?
Brethren, how must it fare with me,
 Or how am I justified,
If it be proven that I a mhe
 For whom mankind has died —
If it be proven that I am he
 Who, being questioned, denied?
Other works by Rudyard Kipling...