The Widow's Uniform – Part 15 of 15:
Few short literary works have caused such a sensation as did this poem on its publication in Diamons Jubilee year, 1897, or divided both academic and lay opinion as it has ever since. It redeems Kipling in the eyes of many, and even Orwell accepted it as "a denunciation of power politics". Yet some of Kipling's admirers wish he had not repented of his original view of the piece (he threw away the first draft), detecting a sententious "British is best" tone which undermines the poem's plea for humility. The issue will continue for as long as Kipling himself is argued over, but can any deny that it makes a magnificent piece of music?