“Recessional” by Rudyard Kipling
contrite – remorseful, apologetic
pomp – splendor
Questions and Answers
1. The poem, an ode, takes the form of a prayer by the speaker. For what is the speaker praying?
The speaker is praying for companionship with God during times of war and turmoil.
2. What is the ancient sacrifice being alluded to in the poem’s second stanza? What is its relationship to the third stanza?
The sacrifice is God’s gift of his son, Christ, who in Christian theology died out of love for mankind. The allusion is meant to be compared to the sacrifice being made by the soldiers in the poem’s third stanza. Unlike their rulers who will perish, the sacrifice and its result shall live on.
3. Why do you suppose the poem is subtitled, “A Victorian Ode”? Who is the speaker of the Ode and to whom is the ode attributed?
Answers may vary. Example: The speaker of the ode is meant to be metaphorically all Victorians. It is an ode to the “God of our fathers,” the Christian God.
4. The speaker repeatedly ends his stanzas with “Lest we forget – lest we forget.” What do you think he is concerned people will forget?
Answers may vary. The speaker seems concerned that the people around him will forget the power God deserves, and the respect and praise should be constantly shown.