Boots, Danny Deever, Genius, Gunga Din, Harold Bloom, India, One Man Show of Kipling, Ozymandias, Percy Bysshe Shelley, poems, Poetry, Richard de Zoysa, Rudyard Kipling, Sussex, The Ballad of East and West, The Explorer, The Way through the Woods
The poet with perhaps the widest range, of both material and tone, was I think Rudyard Kipling. Though much better known as a writer of fiction, his poetry too is fascinating. Bloom leaves him out of his book of Genius, which is understandable given the distinctively American perspective he brings to bear. Kipling’s genius on the contrary was quintessentially English, though I should say English in terms of the colonial experience that governed the thinking of England for so long, as well as adulation of the countryside, which is a particularly British trait (though shared with colonial writers, and the Russians, which confirms my view that the British, when they cease to be sanctimonious, are capable of greater cultural sensitivity than most Westerners).
Kim, which exemplifies all this, is undoubtedly a great book. The same cannot be said of any particular poem that Kipling wrote. But the corpus as a whole is readable and memorable. And it can also surprise. Kipling, the poet of empire, when asked to write something for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, wrote a warning against hubris that is still the best advice available for any politician thinking himself successful–God of our fathers, known of old,