As Easy as A.B.C.
I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) My review normally appears Wednesdays. When it appears, I post the review here on the following Sunday.... [Read More]
Another favorite Kipling poem. I first encountered this in my teens, reading a science fiction novel whose title I now forget. One of the characters recited it.
I have occasionally amused myself trying to find out where the unnamed explorer in the poem started from. Since the poem was written in 1898 South Africa and the Cape Colonies would be a good bet. The geography does not fit, though. It does not seem to be Australia, either. The western US might be a better geographic match, but not culturally. I have concluded that the place existed only in Kipling’s mind, but as with so much of his poetry he gives it a reality.... [Read More]
(Note: Diego Valdez appears to be a fictional creation of Kipling. He seems real, but I cannot find any Spanish admiral from the Great Age of Sail with that name. It is another example of Rudyard Kipling bringing a character to life through the power of his words. This poem is one of my favorites. It speaks of the burdens of success.)
Song of Diego Valdez
1902... [Read More]
The fear was on the cattle, for the gale was on the sea,
An’ the pens broke up on the lower deck an’ let the creatures free —
An’ the lights went out on the lower deck, an’ no one near but me.
I had been singin’ to them to keep ’em quiet there,
For the lower deck is the dangerousest, requirin’ constant care,
An’ give to me as the strongest man, though used to drink and swear.... [Read More]
This is one of my favorites – just the right mix of humor and retribution. (Note: a Pharisee is a “fairy” – as in a magical being.)
The Ballad of Minepit Shaw
“The Tree of Justice” in Rewards and Fairies... [Read More]
(This was one of the last poems written by Rudyard Kipling, and it proves he still had it as a poet. Written the year before his death in 1935, it is evidence that he saved the best for last. It is one of the reasons I consider him poet-laureate of engineers.)
Hymn of Breaking Strain
1935... [Read More]
(Our Army in the East)
Troopin’, troopin’, troopin’ to the sea:
‘Ere’s September come again — the six-year men are free.
O leave the dead be’ind us, for they cannot come away
To where the ship’s a-coalin’ up that takes us ‘ome to-day.
We’re goin’ ‘ome, we’re goin’ ‘ome,
Our ship is at the shore,
An’ you must pack your ‘aversack,
For we won’t come back no more.
Ho, don’t you grieve for me,
My lovely Mary-Ann,
For I’ll marry you yit on a fourp’ny bit
As a time-expired man.... [Read More]
You have probably heard the story about Polish lancers making a cavalry charge against a German panzer battalion in the opening days of the Nazi invasion of Poland. Men on horses armed with spears attacking tanks. Often the one telling the story will claim they saw a newsreel of it.
You might also have heard it never happened. That is true. It is a great story, but Polish lancers never charged that Panzer unit. It was a myth. The Poles had horse cavalry in 1939 (so did every other nation, including the United States) and actually did launch 17 cavalry charges during the Polish Campaign, fifteen of which were successful. They never charged tanks though. When Polish cavalry encountered German Panzers they dismounted and attacked the tanks with the anti-tank guns organic to Polish cavalry regiments and Molotov cocktails. The only mounted charge around German tanks was an attempt to escape encirclement – and it succeeded.... [Read More]
(Sometimes the course of true love fails to run smoothly. . .)
The Mare’s Nest
Jane Austen Beecher Stowe de Rouse
Was good beyond all earthly need;
But, on the other hand, her spouse
Was very, very bad indeed.
He smoked cigars, called churches slow,
And raced — but this she did not know.... [Read More]
(The choice was inspired by the 2018 SOTU speech.)
The Dawn Wind
The Fifteenth Century... [Read More]
Norman and Saxon
“My son,” said the Norman Baron, “I am dying, and you will be heir
To all the broad acres in England that William gave me for share
When he conquered the Saxon at Hastings, and a nice little handful it is.
But before you go over to rule it I want you to understand this:–
“The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow–with his sullen set eyes on your own,
And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealing,’ my son, leave the Saxon alone.... [Read More]