I see Igor and pals have been keeping up their end of the bargain, bless their patchwork little hides. For my part I’m feeling a little down, the muscles of my sarcasm feel a little weak and overstressed. As kind of an antidote I’ve gone back to the best rhymer ever, Rudyard Kipling, for a little dark relief.
Back in pre Interweb days, I contracted a life threatening condition. No known cause, just bad luck. A form of cancer which required major surgery resulting in six months of constant pain despite heavy medication, the post surgical injuries still giving me the odd twinge twenty years on. All the time I was rendered immobile or feverish I picked up my dog eared paperback copy of ‘The complete works of Rudyard Kipling’ and repeatedly read it cover to cover, until it finally fell apart in my hands. Now I simply go to an online source and read quietly. I even have downloaded copies on my little Samsung for those odd moments.
To my mind he’s the greatest poet of all time. Not merely because his work was consistently good, but because he was a master of literary form. Technically he rarely fell below brilliant. Double and even triple rhyme schemes that scanned and bounced merrily along, unlike so many other poets I can think of. It was Kipling that taught me the value of learning the nuances of cadence, iambus, pentameter, hexameter and the Norse Saga form. Kipling who spoke simple truths, even though his meanings have been twisted over the years and unfairly deemed ‘right wing’, ‘racist’ and wallpapered over with unjustified dismissal. As far as those particular slurs are concerned he was a man of his time, and his works should be viewed more as historical and social documents. Not in terms of accuracy, because he was first and foremost a newspaperman, but containing a very strong flavour of how many people thought during the late Victorian and Edwardian eras. His work preaches a sort of pragmatic wisdom, which lays out the alternatives and says “If that’s what you want – this is the price.”
That has stuck with me ever since and seen me through some very tough times. I’ll leave you with my favourite lines from “The Mary Gloster”
“The things I knew was proper you wouldn’t thank me to give,
And the things I knew was rotten you said was the way to live.”
Watch the dramatic reading in the video below.