The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #58054   Message #916823
Posted By: ooh-aah
24-Mar-03 - 01:53 AM
Thread Name: Chord Req: Danny Deever (Kipling/Bellamy)
Subject: RE: Meanings, Kipling army song
Any suggestion that Kipling was a mere propagandist for the British Empire is simplistic. Kipling is notorious for his Imperialist convictions, but if he were a mere tub-thumper he would neither have won the Nobel Prize nor enjoyed continuing wide readership (something quite amazing if one contemplates the overwhelming left-wing bias of most University English Lit. departments these days). If one has ever been to India the excellence of his writing becomes even more clear. Kipling was scarcely ever free from ambivalence in his writing about the Empire -'Recessional' is a fine example, a profoundly realistic and pessimistic poem penned at the peak of Empire fever around Queen Victoria's Golden jubilee. As for realism - Kipling was quite profoundly realistic in his depiction of Victorian soldiers, especially in India. If one travels to India and visits old British barrack blocks, one can almost feel his ghost, he described the conditions so well. He was not trying to glorify British soldiers, but gain understanding for them - he was irritated by the way the middle-class public of the day would sing (quite repulsively gung-ho)songs like 'Soldiers of the Queen' when there was a fight on and then, as Buck says, cross the street to avoid them in peacetime. I don't have the original with me, but one of his most famous poems goes something like:
       We ain't no thin red 'eroes, we ain't no blackguards too,
       But single men in barracks, most remakable like you
       And if sometimes our conduck isn't what you fancy paints
       Why, single men in barracks don't grow into plaster saints.