The second of my favourite poets to appear in this section is the,
oft regarded as controversial, RUDYARD KIPLING. I say oft regarded as controversial because he has had many critics over the years who have been bewildered by his verse, referring to it as ‘bad’ and ‘very bad’. Distinguished writers such as T.S.Elliot and George Orwell were, arguably, at opposite ends of the spectrum when it came to the works of Kipling...George Orwell wrote an Essay as a response to T.S.Elliot’s ‘A choice of Kipling’s verse’…. it is a long piece, but nevertheless deserves to be read in order to get a penetrating analysis of Rudyard Kipling along with the social atmosphere of the time period of Kipling’s writings…. Get yourself a coffee (or a beer) and take the time to read it .
“Kipling’s subsequent reputation has changed according to the political and social climate of the age and the resulting contrasting views about him continued for much of the 20th century. George Orwell called him a “prophet of British imperialism”. Literary critic Douglas Kerr wrote: “[Kipling] is still an author who can inspire passionate disagreement and his place in literary and cultural history is far from settled. But as the age of the European empires recedes, he is recognised as an incomparable, if controversial, interpreter of how empire was experienced. That, and an increasing recognition of his extraordinary narrative gifts, make him a force to be reckoned with” (Wikipedia) .
Remember, Kipling turned down a Knighthood..TWICE.. and declined the British Poet Laureateship. He also won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907, to this day, the youngest recipient of the prize at 41 years old. Not a bad record, is it ?
I’ll provide links to a few of my favourite poems by Kipling, as a lot of them were rather ‘Epic’ in content. Being an ex soldier, some of Kipling’s poems, particularly those written about life and strife in the British Army of the time, stir me more than others he wrote but for me there is no denying his prowess as a wordsmith….
When I read Kipling, I can smell the gunpowder and sweat, feel the fear and pain, He draws me into the subject and I don’t fight it….
The first poem is … ‘GUNGA DIN’ …probably contains the most quoted/misquoted line in the world.. I’ll let you guess that one after you read it…
Second poem is … ‘DANNY DEEVER’… One of Kipling’s most popular poems. It is in the form of a dialogue, a traditional British poetic format, between a soldier and a sergeant on the military hanging of a soldier who shot his comrade.
The third and final selection is … ‘TOMMY’ … and…I just stumbled on this YouTube version read by Nigel Planer...puts a bit of life into it (evidently there are more of Kipling’s poems on the same link)
So… there are just three of my faves from Rudyard Kipling…see you on the next poetic post …