Kipling is one of my favorite poets, and the thing that makes him so great to me is that there can be multiple explanations for everything he has written. The more I learn of his childhood, the more explanations I see as possibilities of his "meaning." I offer a couple easy-to-get-at quotes here. (I have an intense dislike for blue clickies - give me the source!!)
"If we were to tell the story of "Danny Deever" in prose, we would present two soldiers talking over a crime that has just happened. A fellow-soldier, Danny Deever, quarreled with his comrade and shot him while he slept. One of the speakers, nicknamed "Files-on-Parade" (a term which shows he is an ordinary private) is timid and sympathetic; the other, the Color-Sergeant," who has charge of the flags, is older, more experienced and "hard-boiled." The two soldiers watch the regiment form ceremonially ("in 'ollow square") while the disgraced Danny Deever is stripped of his insignia - "they've taken of his buttons off an' cut his stripes away." Then, after the slow roll of
the drums, the band strikes up a lively air the quickstep ") and the hanging is over."
"Yet again, Kipling reveals his fascination with failed relationships. More specifically, this parent/child conflict highlights the recurrent theme of how adulthood and childhood are frequently confused or completely inverted by Kipling. Adults who
behave childishly, indulging in vindictive, punitive games, are portrayed with macabre humour, as in 'The Village that Voted the Earth was Flat', or more vilely, as in 'Sea Constables'. Reversals can be seen generally in The Jungle Books, which present adult ideals in the format of children's literature; Mowgli and Kim are wise beyond their years, while in 'Tod's Amendment', a precocious child teaches politicians how to legislate. The poetry is less literal; authority figures may be likened to adults, such as the Colour-Sergeant of 'Danny Deever', who assumes a pastoral role over 'Files-on-Parade', but ultimately subsides under the childlike questions of a raw recruit."