Reading yet another posting going into weird conspiracy theories about Donald Trump on “another” site brought this poem to mind. It seems some people believe all we have to do is remove Trump and the Good Old Days for GOPe will return . . .
The Song of the Old Guard
Army Reform- After Boer war “The Army of a Dream”-Traffics and Discoveries... [Read More]
It is New Year’s Day, the arrival of which and the day of which is celebrated with drink. (In some cases and appropriately, with strong drink.) So what better way to mark the day with a Kipling poem that celebrates drink and mentions champagne?
(For those wondering, the Arabi they are chasing is Colonel Ahmed ‘Urabi (also spelled Orabi and Arabi) who led a rebellion against Egypt’s Khedive. It started in 1879 and ran until 1882. Foreign troops, including British soldiers were “invited” in. The invitation was accepted by Britain and France in order to protect their investment in the Suez Canal. More about the background of the poem can be found here.)... [Read More]
Somehow, recent statements by Democrats on the impossibility of civility in the political sphere and their calls for their constituents to commit acts of violence brought this poem to mind. It is one of my favorites. Back in the day when FreeRepublic was just starting (and before it began becoming a little nuts), my handle was taken from this poem: No Truce With Kings.
Is there a more famous poem by Kipling than Gunga Din? Possibly the Ballad of East and West – possibly. Even poems more frequently quoted today (The Gods of the Copybook Headings or Recessional) are not as recognizable.
The poem is frequently mocked today – and easy to mock. Yet at its core it is a refutation of racial superiority. Its ultimate message is each individual must be measured by their actions – not the condition of their birth or the color of their skin.... [Read More]
Not all of Kipling’s war poetry was heroic. Some of it revealed the grimmer side of human conduct.
T got beyond all orders an’ it got beyond all ’ope;
It got to shammin’ wounded an’ retirin’ from the ’alt.
’Ole companies was lookin’ for the nearest road to slope;
It were just a bloomin’ knock-out—an’ our fault!... [Read More]
Since we have recently been getting all misty about days past, I thought this poem appropriate. It is a reminder that nostalgia has always been a “thing.” What I find especially amusing is its last two verses. Today steam locomotives are the stuff of romance. When Kipling wrote this poem, boarding the 9:15 was about as exciting as boarding a jet from Houston to St. Louis.
“Farewell, Romance!” the Cave-men said;
“With bone well carved He went away,
Flint arms the ignoble arrowhead,
And jasper tips the spear to-day.
Changed are the Gods of Hunt and Dance,
And He with these. Farewell, Romance!”... [Read More]
If you have read much of Jerry Pournelle’s fiction, especially his Codominium series, you will recognize this poem.
I’ve a head like a concertina: I’ve a tongue like a button-stick,
I’ve a mouth like an old potato, and I’m more than a little sick,
But I’ve had my fun o’ the Corp’ral’s Guard: I’ve made the cinders fly,
And I’m here in the Clink for a thundering drink and blacking the Corporal’s eye.
With a second-hand overcoat under my head,
And a beautiful view of the yard,
O it’s pack-drill for me and a fortnight’s C.B.
For “drunk and resisting the Guard!”
Mad drunk and resisting the Guard —
‘Strewth, but I socked it them hard!
So it’s pack-drill for me and a fortnight’s C.B.
For “drunk and resisting the Guard.”... [Read More]
(Last time I featured The Mary Gloster. McAndrew’s Hymn is its companion, with a man poorer, but as respected and more content than Sir Anthony Gloster of the previous poem. I often describe Kipling as the poet laureate of engineers and engineering.This poem is one reason why. It was one I often read to my sons when they were little.)
(This is one of Kipling’s longest poems – and one of his best. It is linked to another long poem, McAndrew’s Hymn, but only through the characters in each. This one is a haunting poem.)
“The Mary Gloster”
I’ve paid for your sickest fancies; I’ve humoured your crackedest whim –
Dick, it’s your daddy, dying; you’ve got to listen to him!
Good for a fortnight, am I? The doctor told you? He lied.
I shall go under by morning, and – Put that nurse outside.
‘Never seen death yet, Dickie? Well, now is your time to learn,
And you’ll wish you held my record before it comes to your turn.
Not counting the Line and the Foundry, the yards and the village, too,
I’ve made myself and a million; but I’m damned if I made you.
Master at two-and-twenty, and married at twenty-three –
Ten thousand men on the pay-roll, and forty freighters at sea !
Fifty years between’ em, and every year of it fight,
And now I’m Sir Anthony Gloster, dying, a baronite:
For I lunched with his Royal ‘Ighness – what was it the papers had ?
“Not the least of our merchant-princes.” Dickie, that’s me, your dad!
I didn’t begin with askings. I took my job and I stuck;
I took the chances they wouldn’t, an’ now they’re calling it luck.
Lord, what boats I’ve handled – rotten and leaky and old –
Ran ’em, or – opened the bilge-cock, precisely as I was told.
Grub that ‘ud bind you crazy, and crews that ‘ud turn you grey,
And a big fat lump of insurance to cover the risk on the way.
The others they dursn’t do it; they said they valued their life
(They’ve served me since as skippers). I went, and I took my wife.
Over the world I drove ’em, married at twenty-three,
And your mother saving the money and making a man of me.
I was content to be master, but she said there was better behind;
She took the chances I wouldn’t, and I followed your mother blind.
She egged me to borrow the money, an’ she helped me to clear the loan,
When we bougnt half-shares in a cheap ‘un and hoisted a flag of our own.
Patching and coaling on credit, and living the Lord knew how,
We started the Red Ox freighters – we’ve eight-and-thirty now.
And those were the days of clippers, and the freights were clipper-freights,
And we knew we were making our fortune, but she died in Macassar Straits –... [Read More]