The Islanders "The Flanneled Fools At The Wicket"
by Rudyard Kipling

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"The Flanneled Fools At The Wicket"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: "The Islanders" is one of Kipling's stern preachments to his fellow countrymen, in this instance inspired by the Boer War. He upbraids them for their complacency, materialism, laziness and, above all, for their unwillingness to support the military, "Those that would serve you for honour," a favorite theme of his. Now that war has come, the British, having lost their old fighting spirit and devoted themselves to mere amusements, must call on the "Young Nations," the troops from the Dominions. The men at home are fit only to play games. Because of the pacifistic attitude in England, her sons are sent to war untrained. The bad showing of the British army in the Boer War called forth much bitter criticism from many writers of the period.

Then ye returned to your trinkets; then ye contented your souls
With the flannelled fools at the wicket or the muddied oafs at the goals.
Given to strong delusion, wholly believing a lie,
Ye saw that the land lay fenceless, and ye let the months go by
Waiting some easy wonder, hoping some saving sign–