A Choice of Kipling's Verse, made by T. S. Eliot, with an essay on Rudyard Kipling is a book first published in December 1941 (by Faber and Faber in UK, and by Charles Scribner's Sons in U.S.A.). It is in two parts. The first part is an essay by American-born British poet T. S. Eliot (1888-1965), in which he discusses the nature and stature of British poet Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936); it is divided into two sections. The second part consists of a selection of Kipling's poems made by Eliot.
A Choice of Kipling's Verse was republished in 1963.
A Choice of Kipling's Verse rapidly attracted critical attention, both supportive and hostile, on both sides of the Atlantic. W. J. Turner said that "Mr. Eliot's essay is an admirable example of the finest type of criticism. He succeeds in making us look at his subject's work with freshly opened eyes and he is at once sober, illuminating and sound". George Orwell took the opportunity to write an extended political essay, which incidentally included his own appraisal of Kipling as man and poet. Orwell condemned Kipling for his imperialism, but acquitted him of the accusation of fascism which had recently been raised against him. He disliked Kipling's use of the vernacular. He summed up Kipling as a "good bad poet". Mulk Raj Anand believed that Eliot had over-praised Kipling's critical thought.:109 A pseudonymous reviewer in New English Weekly wrote, "Mr. Eliot offers an important defense of Kipling's imperialism".:109 English poet Norman Nicholson asserted his right as one of the presumed intended audience to comment, and gave his own opinion on Kipling. Marjorie Farber praised Eliot for his "valuable distinction between ballad-makers and poetry-makers", and for his clearing away some of the prejudices against Kipling; but regretted his failure to acknowledge Kipling's "pleasure in hating". Louise Bogan wrote, "It is [...] strange to see [Eliot] bending the subtle resources of his intelligence in a hopeless cause" (i.e. that of rehabilitating Kipling). William Rose Benét wrote (ambiguously), "[Eliot] is not a genius, like Kipling, but his is a subtle and interesting mind". Lionel Trilling wrote a review six pages long in The Nation (in copyright, and not readable online). W. H. Auden wrote a two-page review for The New Republic (in copyright, and not readable online), which Mildred Martin has summarised as "Little on Eliot, chiefly in praise of Kipling".:112-113 Carl T. Naumburg called Eliot's choice of poems "a scholarly and intelligently chosen anthology" and "an altogether excellent selection"; and said that "it is obvious that the essay not the anthology is of importance", and that the essay "will always be regarded as a work of outstanding importance in the field of Kiplingiana".
In 2008, Roger Kimball described Eliot's essay as "partly, but only partly, an effort at rehabilitation". "[H]is essay turns on a distinction between 'verse' – at which Kipling is said to excel – and 'poetry,' which, says Eliot, he approaches but rarely and then only by accident." Kimball summarised the essay as "sensitive, intelligent, and a subtle masterpiece of deflation", and also said that "Eliot wants to preserve a place for Kipling, but he also wants to put him in his place – not, we are meant to understand, the same (and higher) place occupied by Eliot himself".
Eliot doubted whether anyone could make the most of two such different forms of expression as poetry and imaginative prose. He asserted that for Kipling neither form could be judged individually, and that he was the inventor of a mixed form.5 He called Kipling a ballad-maker, someone whose poems could be understood at first hearing, so that his poems had to be defended against the charge of excessive lucidity, not that of obscurity; and against the charge of being jingles.6,9 He singled out "Danny Deever" as remarkable in both technique and content.11-12 He contrasted the dramatic monologues "McAndrew's Hymn" and "The 'Mary Gloster'", which he considered to belong together.13-14 He noted the "important influence of Biblical imagery and the Authorised Version language upon [Kipling's] writing", and suggested that Kipling was both a great epigram writer and (on the strength of "Recessional") a great hymn writer.16
Eliot found it impossible to fit Kipling's poems into one or another distinct class. The later poems are more diverse than the early. Neither "development" nor "experimentation" seems the right description. The critical tools which Eliot was accustomed to use did not seem to work.16-17 He said that "most of us" (i.e. poets) were interested in form for its own sake, and with musical structure in poetry, leaving any deeper meaning to emerge from a lower level; in contrast to Kipling, whose poems were designed to elicit the same response from all readers.18 Eliot defended himself against the hypothetical charge that he had been briefed in the cause of some hopelessly second-rate writer. He asserted that Kipling "knew something of the things which are underneath, and of the things which are beyond the frontier". He next said, "I have not explained Kipling's verse nor the permanent effect it can have on you. It will help if I can keep him out of the wrong pigeon-holes".19-20 He then quoted in full one poem, "The Fabulists" (1914-1918),(ws) [Note 1] which he said showed Kipling's integrity of purpose and which he thought would have more effect in the essay than in the body of the book.21-22
Eliot opened the second part of his essay by restating his original proposition: that Kipling's prose and verse have to be considered together; while calling him "the most inscrutable of authors" and "a writer impossible wholly to understand and quite impossible to believe".22 He wondered whether Kipling's world-view had been shaped by his upbringing in India under the British Raj - and argued that one of his defining features was his acceptance of all faiths and beliefs, as exemplified in his novel Kim.23-24 He compared Kipling to Dryden, another English writer who put politics into verse: "[T]he two men had much in common. Both were masters of phrase, both employed rather simple rhythms with adroit variations. [...] [T]hey were both classical rather than romantic poets".25-26 For both men, wisdom was more important than inspiration, and the world about them than their own feelings. Nevertheless, Eliot did not wish to overstress the likeness, and recognised the differences.26
Kipling thought his verse and prose as both being for a public purpose. Eliot warned against taking Kipling out of his time, and against exaggerating the importance of a particular piece or phrase which a reader might dislike. He considered that Edward Shanks had missed the point when he called the poem "Loot" (ws) "detestable". In Kipling's military poems, he had tried to describe the soldier (serving or discharged, both unappreciated at home), and not to idealise him. He was exasperated both by sentimentalism and by depreciation and neglect.26-27
Eliot attributed Kipling's development to the time he had spent in India; on travel and in America; and finally settled in Sussex. Kipling had a firm belief in the British Empire and what he thought it should be, while recognising its faults. He was more interested in individuals than in man in the mass. Eliot found Kipling in some way alien, as if from another planet. People who are too clever are distrusted. He compared Kipling with another outsider, the 19th century British politician Benjamin Disraeli.27-28
Kipling had the misfortune of early success, so that critics judged him by his early work and did not revise their opinions to take account of the later.28 He had been called both a Tory (for his content) and a journalist (for his style); in neither case as a compliment. Eliot disagreed, except insofar as those terms could be considered honourable. He dismissed the charge that Kipling believed in racial superiority. Rather, he believed that the British had a natural aptitude to rule and to rule well. He admired people from all races; as can be seen from Kim, which Eliot called "his maturest work on India, and his greatest book". A problem with Kipling was that he expressed unpopular ideas in a popular style. So saying, Eliot concluded his discussion of Kipling's early imperialism. Kipling was not doctrinaire and did not have a programme; for which Eliot rated him favourably over H. G. Wells.29-30
Kipling's middle years are marked by "the development of the imperial imagination into the historical imagination", to which his settling in Sussex must have contributed. He was humble enough to submit to his surroundings, and had the fresh vision of a stranger. There is more than one kind of "historical imagination". One gives life to abstractions, and the larger picture. Another implies a whole civilisation from a single individual. Kipling's imagination was of the second kind.30-31 The historical imagination can convey the vast extent of time, or the nearness of the past, or both. Eliot pointed to Puck of Pook's Hill and Rewards and Fairies as doing both. Kipling was a different kind of regional writer from Thomas Hardy; and not just in that Kipling was chronicling a Sussex he wished to preserve and Hardy the decay of a Dorset he had known from boyhood. Kipling did not write about Sussex because he had run out of foreign and imperial material or because the public demand for it had passed, nor because he was a chameleon who took his colour from his surroundings. He was "discovering and reclaiming a lost inheritance".32-33 The most important thing in Kipling's Sussex stories was his vision of "the people of the soil"; not in a Christian but more in a pagan sense, not as a programme for agrarian reform, but as a counterbalance to materialism and industrialism. Eliot noted the contrast in "The Wish House" (a short story in the 1926 collection Debits and Credits) between its supernatural elements and its sordid realism; he found both it and its two accompanying poems "hard and obscure". Kipling had become more than a mere story teller, and more than the man who had felt it his duty to tell his countrymen things they refused to see. He must have known that his own fame and reputation would get in the way of all but a few people understanding his late parables and the skill with which they were constructed; both in his time and afterwards.33-34
Kipling wrote "verse" rather than "poetry" (two terms which Eliot acknowledged he was using loosely). He handled a wide variety of stanza and metre with perfect competence, but produced no revolution in form. The musical interest of his verse - taken as a whole - is subordinated to its meaning, and that differentiates it from poetry. Doing otherwise would have interfered with his intention. Eliot did not imply a value judgment. Kipling did not write verse because he could not write poetry; he wrote verse because it does something which poetry cannot do. He was a great verse writer. Eliot chose not to name any other famous poets who might be called great verse writers; but declared that Kipling's position in that latter class was not only high but unique.34-36
Eliot concluded by saying that if his essay assisted the reader to approach Kipling with a fresh mind, it would have served its purpose.36
Eliot did not attempt to define a critical consensus on the merits of any of Kipling's poems. He chose not to include anything which he considered juvenilia.:7 His selection expresses the personal opinion of one major poet on another, and deserves attention for that reason.
The titles in the following list are those used by Eliot. They sometimes differ in minor ways from those chosen by Kipling. Dates are included only where Eliot included them. As superscripts: (ws) links to the text in Wikisource of a poem which has no Wikipedia article; [Poem] links to a reputable online source for the text of a poem not in Wikisource; (na) means that no reputable source has been found.
"A Song in Storm" is a poem written by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936).
It has been set to music by two English composers Edward German and Edward Elgar.
German set the poem for voice and piano in 1916, with the title "Be well assured," which is the first phrase of the poem.
Elgar set the poem in 1917, with the title "Fate's Discourtesy," as the second of a set of four war-related verses by Kipling on nautical subjects for which he chose the title "The Fringes of the Fleet". The phrase "Fate's discourtesy" leads in the refrain to all three verses of the poem. Like the other songs in the cycle, is intended for four baritone voices: a solo and chorus. It was originally written with orchestral accompaniment, but it was later published to be sung with piano accompaniment.
T. S. Eliot included the poem in his 1941 collection A Choice of Kipling's Verse.Boots (poem)
"Boots" is a poem by English author and poet Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936). It was first published in 1903, in his collection The Five Nations."Boots" imagines the repetitive thoughts of a British Army infantryman marching by forced marches in South Africa during the Second Boer War (which had ended in 1902). It has been said that if the first four words in each line are read at the rate of two words to the second, that gives the time to which the British foot soldier was accustomed to march.The poem was set to music for low male voice and orchestra by "P. J. McCall", and recorded in 1929 by Australian bass-baritone Peter Dawson. McCall was Dawson, publishing under a pseudonym. That setting was soon recorded by other singers, but seems largely to have fallen out of fashion; perhaps because of World War 2.
American-born British poet T. S. Eliot included the poem in his 1941 anthology A Choice of Kipling's Verse.The recording of Taylor Holmes reciting the poem was used for its psychological effect in the U.S. Navy's SERE school.Fuzzy-Wuzzy
"Fuzzy-Wuzzy" is a poem by the English author and poet Rudyard Kipling, published in 1892 as part of Barrack Room Ballads. It describes the respect of the ordinary British soldier for the bravery of the Hadendoa warriors who fought the British army in the Sudan and Eritrea.Gunga Din
"Gunga Din" is an 1890 poem by Rudyard Kipling, set in British India.
The poem is much-remembered by its final line: "You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din", often quoted in the UK in reaction to self-praise.Henry Ware Eliot
Henry Ware Eliot (November 25, 1843 – January 7, 1919) was an American industrialist and philanthropist who lived in St. Louis, Missouri. He was the father of poet T. S. Eliot.Mandalay (poem)
"Mandalay" is a poem by Rudyard Kipling, written and published in 1890, and first collected in Barrack-Room Ballads, and Other Verses in 1892. The poem is set in colonial Burma, then part of British India. The protagonist is a Cockney working-class soldier, back in grey restrictive London, recalling the time he felt free and had a Burmese girlfriend, now unattainably far away.The poem became well known, especially after it was set to music by Oley Speaks in 1907, and was admired by Kipling's contemporaries, though some of them objected to its muddled geography. It has been criticised as a "vehicle for imperial thought", but more recently has been defended by Kipling's biographer David Gilmour and others. Other critics have identified a variety of themes in the poem, including exotic erotica, Victorian prudishness, romanticism, class, power, and gender.The song, with Speaks's music, was sung by Frank Sinatra with alterations to the text such as "broad" for "girl" which were disliked by Kipling's family. Bertolt Brecht's Mandalay Song, set to music by Kurt Weill, alludes to the poem.McAndrew's Hymn
"McAndrew's Hymn" is a poem by English writer Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936). It was begun in 1893, and first published (under the title "M'Andrew's Hymn") in December 1894 in Scribner's Magazine. It was collected in Kipling's The Seven Seas of 1896.
It is an extended monologue by an elderly Scottish chief marine engineer serving in a passenger steamship, who is standing the nighttime middle watch. Except for two brief interjections to others, it is a musing on his life addressed to the Christian God from a Calvinist perspective.Puck of Pook's Hill
Puck of Pook's Hill is a fantasy book by Rudyard Kipling, published in 1906, containing a series of short stories set in different periods of English history. It can count both as historical fantasy – since some of the stories told of the past have clear magical elements, and as contemporary fantasy – since it depicts a magical being active and practising his magic in the England of the early 1900s when the book was written.
The stories are all narrated to two children living near Burwash, in the area of Kipling's own house Bateman's, by people magically plucked out of history by the elf Puck, or told by Puck himself. (Puck, who refers to himself as "the oldest Old Thing in England", is better known as a character in William Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream.) The genres of particular stories range from authentic historical novella (A Centurion of the Thirtieth, On the Great Wall) to children's fantasy (Dymchurch Flit). Each story is bracketed by a poem which relates in some manner to the theme or subject of the story.
Donald Mackenzie, who wrote the introduction for the Oxford World's Classics edition of Puck of Pook's Hill in 1987, has described this book as an example of archaeological imagination that, in fragments, delivers a look at the history of England, climaxing with the signing of Magna Carta.
Puck calmly concludes the series of stories: "Weland gave the Sword, The Sword gave the Treasure, and the Treasure gave the Law. It's as natural as an oak growing."
The stories originally appeared in the Strand Magazine in 1906 with illustrations by Claude Allen Shepperson, but the first book-form edition was illustrated by H. R. Millar. Arthur Rackham provided four colour plates for the first US edition. Puck of Pook's Hill was followed four years later by a second volume, Rewards and Fairies, featuring the same children in the following summer.
T. S. Eliot included several of the poems in his 1941 collection A Choice of Kipling's Verse.Recessional (poem)
"Recessional" is a poem by Rudyard Kipling. It was composed for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, in 1897.The Bell Buoy
"The Bell Buoy" is a poem by Rudyard Kipling. It was first published with illustrations in Saturday Review, Christmas Supplement 1896 and then published in McClure's Magazine in February 1897 as "The Bell-Buoy", with illustrations by Oliver Herford. It was also included in the 1903 collection The Five Nations.
Some changes to the wording occurred sometime between the edition in McClure's and when it was collected in Rudyard Kipling's verse: inclusive edition, 1885-1918 (1919) as "The Bell Buoy". The other changes are minor and some may be the correction of printing errors.
T. S. Eliot included the poem in his 1941 collection A Choice of Kipling's Verse.The Figure in the Carpet
"The Figure in the Carpet" is a short story (sometimes considered a novella) by American writer Henry James first published in 1896. It is told in the first person; the narrator, whose name is never revealed, meets his favorite author and becomes obsessed with discovering the secret meaning or intention of all the author's works.
“The Figure in the Carpet” has evaded definitive interpretation. In his book Henry James (1913), Ford Madox Ford wrote that after it was published, James’s contemporaries set themselves on a quest for the Figure as an identifiable physical entity. In the preface to his A Choice of Kipling’s Verse (1941), T. S. Eliot wrote, “Nowadays, we all look for the Figure in the Carpet.” It is possible that James’s Figure is a palpable object that, like a talisman, facilitates interpretation of his own work.The Gods of the Copybook Headings
"The Gods of the Copybook Headings" is a poem published by Rudyard Kipling in 1919, which, editor Andrew Rutherford said, contained "age-old, unfashionable wisdom" that Kipling saw as having been forgotten by society and replaced by "habits of wishful thinking."The "copybook headings" to which the title refers were proverbs or maxims, extolling age old wisdom - virtues such as honesty or fair dealing that were printed at the top of the pages of 19th-century British students' special notebooks, called copybooks. The school-children had to write them by hand repeatedly down the page. However, the marketplaces were areas that dishonesty and immorality ruled. The Gods (or principles) of the marketplace represent selfishness, reckless progress, over-indulgence and a failure to learn from the past.
The work has been described as "beautifully captur[ing] the thinking of Schumpeter and Keynes." David Gilmour says that while topics of the work are the "usual subjects", the commentary "sound better in verse" while Alice Ramos says that they are "far removed from Horace's elegant succinctness" but do "make the same point with some force."T. S. Eliot included the poem in his 1941 collection A Choice of Kipling's Verse.The Mary Gloster
"The Mary Gloster" is a poem by British writer Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936). It is dated 1894, but seems to have been first published in his 1896 collection The Seven Seas.It is a deathbed monologue by a wealthy shipowner and shipbuilder, Sir Anthony Gloster, addressed to his only surviving child, his son Dick or Dickie, who does not speak.The Sweepers (poem)
"The Sweepers" is a poem written by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), and set to music by the English composer Edward Elgar in 1917, as the fourth of a set of four war-related songs on nautical subjects for which he chose the title "The Fringes of the Fleet".Like the others in the cycle, it is intended for four baritone voices: a solo and chorus. It was originally written with orchestral accompaniment, but was later published to be sung with piano accompaniment.
The poem was called by Kipling "Mine Sweepers", and is about the British ships called minesweepers which cleared the seas of enemy mines in World War I.
T. S. Eliot included the poem in his 1941 collection A Choice of Kipling's Verse.The Widow at Windsor
"The Widow at Windsor" is a poem by Rudyard Kipling, part of the first set of the Barrack-Room Ballads, published in 1892.
The eponymous "widow" is Queen Victoria. This poem talks about Queen Victoria and how the Empire she rules is so powerful because of the sacrifices that her soldiers make.
T. S. Eliot included the poem in his 1941 collection A Choice of Kipling's Verse.Tommy (Kipling poem)
"Tommy" is an 1890 poem by Rudyard Kipling, reprinted in his 1892 Barrack-Room Ballads. The poem addresses the ordinary British soldier of Kipling's time in a sympathetic manner. It is written from the point of view of such a soldier, and contrasts the treatment they receive from the general public during peace and during war.Ubique (poem)
"Ubique" is a poem by Rudyard Kipling about the Boer War, published in The Five Nations in 1903.Its title is derived from the Motto and Battle Honour of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, however the opening lines are attributed to the lack of knowledge of Latin within the ordinary ranks of the Gunners. Ubique is pronounced "Ooh-Bee-Kway", but is generally pronounced as "You-Bee-Kway".
T. S. Eliot included the poem in his 1941 collection A Choice of Kipling's Verse.