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By C. T. Hall.

LAUREATE, whose martial chord

Sounded too late, unheard.

We thank thee for that word!

Lords of th’ unsetting sun,

Reapers in fields unsown.

No hireling’s part the Hun,

The blood he sheds, his own.

False to thy sons of old.

Falser to brothers now,

Perjured a thousandfold,

To keep a tainted vow!

Where is the land or sea

But holds a savage horde,

Slaves of thy golden key,

And bondmen of thy sword!


The Hun at Europe’s gate

Shall keep thy wolves at bay.

Come they, or soon or late,

From Nippon or Cathay,

From Africa’s stolen mines,

Or Austral deserts bare,

In black or yellow lines,

On horse or foot or air.


The Hun shall keep the gate

The Briton has betrayed

To Tartar greed and hate,

Unflinching, undismayed.

Grant then your Norman gods

Be absent when you call,

Lest with such fearful odds

The Saxon gate may fall,

Letting the heathen through,

To plunge our world in night.

They know not what they do.

Yet sin against the light!

Britain!   They serve who stand and wait,

Fear not, the Hun will hold thy gate.

Hall, C. T. “The Hun Is at the Gate.” The Fatherland 1, no. 21 (December 30, 1914): 29.

Hall, C. T. “The Hun Is at the Gate.” The Fatherland 1, no. 21 (December 30, 1914): 29.


The Hun is at the gate

A line from the first stanza of Rudyard Kipling’s poem “For All We Have and Are”: “For all we have and are, / For all our children’s fate, / Stand up and take the war, / The Hun is at the gate!” Kipling wrote the poem in August 1914 to “rouse the British into embracing the war that had been initiated by the German attack on Belgium.” His pejorative use of ‘Hun’ likely recalls a speech given by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1900, who encouraged German soldiers to become the Huns of the 20th century in China.1 Ann Parry argues that the poem considers “the nature of the war about to be fought and what it will mean for youth and its parental generation.”2

1Matin, A. Michael. “‘The Hun is at the Gate!’: Historicizing Kipling’s Militaristic Rhetoric, from the Imperial Periphery to the National Center. Part One: The Russian Threat to British India.” Studies in the Novel 31, no. 3 (1999): 317–56. http://www.jstor.org/stable/29533344.

2Parry, Ann. The Poetry of Rudyard Kipling: Rousing the Nation (Buckingham: Open University Press, 1992), 129.

Kipling, Rudyard. “For All We Have and Are.” In The Years Between, 20–22. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1919. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/hvd.32044086830403?urlappend=%3Bseq=50.



Born in India, Rudyard Kipling (1876–1936) was schooled in England but returned to India in 1892, where he worked as a journalist and published collections of short stories about India. Because of these and his novel, Kim (1901), Kipling became known as “the laureate of empire.” He was the first British writer to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature (1907). Prior to World War I, Pinney observes, it “would be difficult to match this record for sustained quantity, variety, and quality in the whole of English literature.” His war-time publications included The New Army in Training (1915), France at War (1915), and The Fringes of the Fleet (1915).

Sutherland, John. “Kipling, Rudyard.” In The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Literature in English, edited by Jenny Stringer. Oxford University Press, 2005. https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780192122711.001.0001/acref-9780192122711-e-1565.

Pinney, Thomas. “Kipling, (Joseph) Rudyard (1865–1936), writer and poet.” In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. September 23, 2004. https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-34334.


Lords of th’ unsetting sun

Reference to the claim that the sun never set on the British Empire.



Historically, ‘Hun“ signifies a member of a warlike Asiatic nomadic group of people led by Attila, who invaded and ravaged large parts of Europe in the late 4th and 5th centuries. During World War I, the term was used colloquially in a derogatory manner for Germans collectively, in association with the atrocities the German military committed in Belgium and France.

“Hun, n.1 and adj.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, June 2021. https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/89450?rskey=4DzQZY&result=1.


a savage horde

With “golden key” in next line, a reference to the Golden Horde, the Tartars of the Mongol khanate of the Western Kipchaks (1242–1480), which had been part of Genghis Khan’s empire.

“Golden Horde.” In A Dictionary of World History, edited by Anne Kerr and Edmund Wright. Oxford University Press, 2015. https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780199685691.001.0001/acref-9780199685691-e-1496.


Nippon or Cathay

Nippon is the Japanese word for Japan. By the early 20th century, ‘Cathay’ was an already archaic and connotative word used to denote China.

“Cathay, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, June 2021. https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/28931?redirectedFrom=cathay.


Africa’s stolen mines

Gold mining in the independent Boer republic of the Transval led to the South African War of 1899–1902, as tensions escalated between the Britons and the Boer republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. Diamond mines in Kimberley, a town in the British Cape Colony in South Africa, drew laborers from Africa but also from Britain and Europe. African workers at gold and diamond mines lived in “closed compounds” and experienced coercion and surveillance.

For a discussion of the effects of World War I on Southern Africa, particularly with respect to gold and diamond mining, see Storey Kelleher, William. “Southern Africa (Version 1.1).” In 1914–1918–online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War, edited by Ute Daniel, Peter Gatrell, Oliver Janz, Heather Jones, Jennifer Keene, Alan Kramer, and Bill Nasson. Freie Universität Berlin, 2014–. Article published May 30, 2017. https://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/southern_africa.


black or yellow lines

Racial slurs denoting African and Asian colonial troops fighting in the war.



In the West, term initially used to denote the Mongols, Tartars, Turks, and other ethnic groups under Genghis Khan (1202–1227) who overran and devastated much of Asia and Eastern Europe. The term loosely applies to descendants of these people.

“Tartar | Tatar, n.2 and adj.”. OED Online. Oxford University Press, June 2021. https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/197938?rskey=FBkANt&result=2.



Reference to Scandinavian and Frankish people who settled in Normandy (present–day north–west France) starting in the early 10th century and became a dominant military power in western Europe and the Mediterranean, conquering England in 1066.

“Norman, n.1 and adj.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, June 1921. https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/128279?rskey=WfE4N0&result=1.



The Saxons were a Germanic people dwelling near the mouth of the Elbe in the early centuries of the Christian era. The term is often applied to all Germanic peoples who settled in Britain.

“Saxon, n. and adj.”. OED Online. Oxford University Press, June 2021.https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/171566?redirectedFrom=saxon.

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