Do You Kipple? – Alma Boykin

 Do You Kipple? – Alma Boykin


Asking Huns and Hoydens if they’ve ever heard of Rudyard Kipling is a bit like asking a fish if it knows how to swim. You’d get a blank look (assuming you spoke the right dialect of Fish) and a response along the lines of “Doesn’t everyone?” At some point in our lives, the majority of us were introduced, stumbled into, or discovered Kipling’s poetry, and probably his short stories. I suspect fewer of us have read his novels, especially Kim. The Light that Failed is interesting but not as good, in my opinion. The Nauhlahka was co-written with a friend and ahm, er, is pretty terrible. Captains Courageous is pretty good.


He got me through very hard emotional times in Germany, sustained me in grad school, and if I were forced to rebuild civilization from scratch, the Authorized translation of the Bible (aka the KJV) and Rudyard Kipling’s Complete Verse would be on my short list of works to start with. I love some of his poems, I flinch from a few, and a very few make me wonder if he were having an especially bad day, or was under the influence of something especially good.



So, a question: do you recall what your first introduction to Rudyard Kipling’s work was? And what is your favorite poem or story of his?


I first met Kipling when I was five or six and my parents read the Jungle Book and Just-So Stories to me. This came after seeing the TV cartoon of “Rikki-tikki-tavi,” but before the movie of the Jungle Book. I read Kim as a teenager, once I knew enough about the Raj to understand what was going on with the Great Game.



My favorite Kipling is a lot harder to pin down. It changed over time. I locked onto “Baa baa Blacksheep” when I was a teenager and the target-of-choice for jerks in Junior High and High School. “The City of Brass” both appeals to me (when I’m angry at society) and terrifies me (because of society). Most of us know the “Gods of the Copybook Headings” at least in part, and probably mutter under our breaths on occasion, “As surely as water will wet us, as surely as fire will burn/ The Gods of the Copybook Headings/ With terror and slaughter return!”


For the wild excitement and bravado of the story, “The Ballad of East and West” ranks up there with Banjo Patterson’s “Man from Snowy River,” and I can recite large chunks of both from memory. “The Way through the Woods” and “Bridge Guard at the Karoo” both evoke nature and emotion so well, and I’ve used “Way through the Woods” to introduce the Romantic Movement to my history students, even though Kipling is not officially considered a Romantic poet. He did a lot of Romances, in the sense of heroic tales of kings and princes and warriors and last stands, but he’s not Longfellow. On the other hand, soldiers in the US and British armies (and probably others) don’t use Longfellow as teaching tools the way they use “Arithmetic on the Frontier” or “Soldiers of the Queen.” Leslie Fish’s setting of “Puck’s Song” makes me smile every time I sing it, in part because she peels back the history of Sussex in a way I love to do with other places.


Kipling’s verse is finally coming out of copyright and is becoming more available, for which I give great thanks. If you can find a copy of M. M. Kaye’s edition of Kipling, The Moon of Other Days, snatch up a copy. Her notes and the illustrations are absolutely magnificent.


So, do you Kipple?

140 responses to “Do You Kipple? – Alma Boykin

  1. sanfordbegley

    If, Tommy, and The Sons Of Martha, the rest of his poetry is fair to good, those are superb

    • Tommy has long been a favorite and I fear is becoming precient in ways even Kipling didn’t predict.

      • Yep. Disturbing how much history rhymes

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          The Dykes

          WE HAVE no heart for the fishing, we have no hand for the oar —
          All that our fathers taught us of old pleases us now no more;
          All that our own hearts bid us believe we doubt where we do not deny —
          There is no proof in the bread we eat or rest in the toil we ply.

          Look you, our foreshore stretches far through sea-gate, dyke, and groin —
          Made land all, that our fathers made, where the flats and the fairway join.
          They forced the sea a sea-league back. They died, and their work stood fast.
          We were born to peace in the lee of the dykes, but the time of our peace is past.

          Far off, the full tide clambers and slips, mouthing and testing all,
          Nipping the flanks of the water-gates, baying along the wall;
          Turning the shingle, returning the shingle, changing the set of the sand…
          We are too far from the beach, men say, to know how the outworks stand.

          So we come down, uneasy, to look, uneasily pacing the beach.
          These are the dykes our fathers made: we have never known a breach.
          Time and again has the gale blown by and we were not afraid;
          Now we come only to look at the dykes — at the dykes our fathers made.

          O’er the marsh where the homesteads cower apart the harried sunlight flies,
          Shifts and considers, wanes and recovers, scatters and sickens and dies —
          An evil ember bedded in ash — a spark blown west by the wind…
          We are surrendered to night and the sea — the gale and the tide behind!

          At the bridge of the lower saltings the cattle gather and blare,
          Roused by the feet of running men, dazed by the lantern glare.
          Unbar and let them away for their lives—the levels drown as they stand,
          Where the flood-wash forces the sluices aback and the ditches deliver inland.

          Ninefold deep to the top of the dykes the galloping breakers stride,
          And their overcarried spray is a sea — a sea on the landward side.
          Coming, like stallions they paw with their hooves, going they snatch with their teeth,
          Till the bents and the furze and the sand are dragged out, and the old-time hurdles beneath.

          Bid men gather fuel for fire, the tar, the oil and the tow —
          Flame we shall need, not smoke, in the dark if the riddled seabanks go.
          Bid the ringers watch in the tower (who knows how the dawn shall prove?)
          Each with his rope between his feet and the trembling bells above.

          Now we can only wait till the day, wait and apportion our shame.
          These are the dykes our fathers left, but we would not look to the same.
          Time and again were we warned of the dykes, time and again we delayed:
          Now, it may fall, we have slain our sons, as our fathers we have betrayed.

          Walking along the wreck of the dykes, watching the work of the seas!
          These were the dykes our fathers made to our great profit and ease.
          But the peace is gone and the profit is gone, with the old sure days withdrawn…
          That our own houses show as strange when we come back in the dawn!

          Oh that we elected Obama twice. Oh, if we pick other than Clinton or Trump it will be no virtue of ours. Nuclear counter-proliferation is dying the death that chemical counter-proliferation did. Deterrence is in none too good of a shape. Our allies must consider how to defend themselves without us, and must anticipate how we may screw them over. An unaligned country faced by our enemies must consider whether we can promise them any help, and whether we would escalate their problems for no good reason.

  2. John in Philly

    My first Kipling was Captains Courageous, I read it while in my teens.
    My favorite Kipling changes depending on my mood.
    My wife has watched the whole of Downton Abbey and at the conclusion she remarked that the servants seemed to have it pretty good.
    She was then treated to an impassioned reading of Chant-Pagan, followed by a quick discussion on the evils of society that classifies one by the position of their birth.
    I think some today will be spent revisiting Kipling, and I will start with your suggestions.

  3. Of course I kipple. I grew up with the Jungle Book and Just So Stories. In fact I host almost all of his works – poetry and prose – on my website, having borrowed them from an Australian site that hosted them for ages.

    I’m torn about what I like best. As a public schoolboy – admittedly in an age of less spartan schooling – I totally identify with Stalky & Co. I may even have been inspired by a couple of things in that book. But I love the Maltese Cat and many of the other stories in “The Day’s Work” too and … too many others to list

    The poem I love that everyone forgets is The Last of the Light Brigade.

  4. I ground halfway through “Kim” before giving up through sheer boredom. But I can quote most of “Tommy” from memory.

    “We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
    But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
    An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
    Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints”

  5. First introduced by reading John Ringo in Late HS. Since then I’ve read all his poems, but I haven’t had the chance to start on his short stories and novels. I’m notoriously bad at memorizing lyrics (my mind tends to substitute synonyms all over the place) but I’ve memorized large chunks of the Ballad of East and West just by reading it so much.

  6. I’m an inveterate Kippler. On another forum, my ‘signature’ is the penultimate stanza of MacDonough’s Song

  7. Like most folks, I started with The Jungle Book as a kid. As an adult, I got reintroduced to his poetry. Dane Geld, Grave of the Hundred Head, Recessional, If, Tommy, Gods of the Copybook Headings, In The Neolithic, Chant Pagan… the heck with it. I might as well just to a copy/paste of his poem titles.

  8. Gosh, I hate to be the contrarian, but I find Kipling to be pompous and depressing. The ‘chorus/refrain’ is probably the first I read. Simply due to the fact that some Heinlein YA novel had it as a chapter opening.
    Now, his quotes and Disney animations are pretty much a background of culture, so I’ve been exposed to bits and pieces, but to pick up Kipling and read it? Forget it.

    • Oh, refrain of the Ballad of East and West.

    • 😀 There’s some of his stuff that grates terribly, when he’s too pompous (or channeling a pompous sod in some of the Departmental Ditties). And his later political poems – eh, I read them once and now skip past them. To each their own.

    • Oooh, definitely recommend The Finest Story in the World, then. For a shorter read, see The Post that Fitted. Then there was one where a man and his intended were quite taken with betting on the races. All light stuff.

    • I’m not much into poetry myself. I find I like a couple of stanzas of Kipling at a time, but more than that is like adding too much salt to a dish; a little bit brings out the flavor, but too much ruins it. His novels and stories on the other hand, I like.

  9. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    As a Son Of Martha, I enjoy Kipling.

    Note, Mom’s name was Martha and she was a “Martha”. 😉

  10. The Jungle Books — all of them, beginning when Mom read the first one to us. Then Kim, and Stalky & Company, and Puck of Pook’s Hill – and the complete short stories, which was on the shelves at my high school’s library. Loved, loved, loved the short stories, just a titch more than the poems. He had the gift of being able to take on the voices of so many different — wildly different characters. When he wrote dialog, I could “hear” the voices of those characters speaking.

  11. adventuresfantastic

    One of my earliest memories is being read Just So Stories by my parents. In late grade school I read the Jungle Books multiple times. Captains Courageous was early high school. (Note to self: reread and see that son entering high school reads.)

    While I like “The Gods of the Copybook Headings”, “The Betrothed”, “Pink Dominoes” and especially “The Post that Fitted”, my favorite poem is “If”. My grandparents had a framed copy of it (with an illustrated border) that now hangs in my living room. I reread it frequently.

    As for Kipling quotes, (and this is a paraphrase) “A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition.”

  12. First exposure: Disney’s adaptation of “Mowgli’s Brothers” – which they called “The Jungle Book” and of course the cartoon version of “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.”

    Of the stories I have read, my personal favorite is”Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”. There is a version in a children’s book I had growing up. I hunted around until I could find a copy of “The Jungle Book” just so I could read the rest of the stories.

  13. The Other Sean

    I’ve actually read far more of his short stories (and a few novels and novellas) than of his poems. These days, much of it can be found for free on the Project Gutenberg site.

  14. When I went to the sandbox the second time, I took my copy of “Poetry and Verse” with me. I typed out a copy of The White Man’s Burden”, and handed it out to whomever asked my why we were there and what we were supposed to accomplish.

    First? Animated Riki Tiki Tavi and Jungle Book. I then discovered his writings after reading Heinlein, and running across quotes and references.

    Favorites? Puck of Pook’s Hill, Barracks Room Ballads, The Screw Guns, Recessional, White Man’s Burden, GotCH, Recessional, Tommy, so many more …

  15. I think it was Jerry Pournelle who introduced me to Kipling with poems like “Tommy” and “MacDonough’s Song” in his There Will Be War series.
    My favorite poem of Kipling’s has to be “Tomlinson,” about the man who had lived a life so without deeds, that the Devil sent him back to do something bad before he died, lest he pollute Hell with his mediocrity.

  16. Meredith Dixon

    I grew up with Kipling’s children’s stories: the Just-So Stories and the Jungle Book (only the first one; it was years before I read the second) and the two Puck books, and later Stalky, which was a great comfort to me as a bullied child.

    The first of his adult short stories I ever read was “.007.” There were very few books for children a my grandmother’s house, and one day when I was nine she suggested that I might like it. I did, and I then read “The Maltese Cat”, which is in the same anthology, *The Day’s Work*. Soon I had read all that anthology, and it is still my favorite volume, overall, of his short stories. “A Walking Delegate,” in which a Socialist horse tries to preach revolution to his more sensible fellows in the field, is hilarious.

    The short story of his that I probably reread most these days is “The Mother Hive,” another political fable about a beehive being corrupted by parasites. That’s in *Actions and Reactions*, which also contains the first of his science-fiction stories, *With the Night Mail*. (The other, “As Easy as A.B.C.”, may be found in *A Diversity of Creatures*.)

    I’ve never had much use for his novels, even *Kim*. *Captains Courageous* isn’t bad. *The Light that Failed* is creepy and weird, whether in the “happy-ending” version imposed on him by his magazine publishers or in the “sad-ending” version of the novel. I’ve never managed to finish *Naulakha*; it’s the only Kipling I’ve never read.

    Kipling’s poetry, like Housman’s, is part of the fabric of my brain. I’ve read it all. I’ve memorized much of it, intentionally or otherwise. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I first learned the concept of prevarication from “The Shut-Eye Sentry” (“An’ the corporal pulled an’ the sergeant pushed, / An’ the three they danced along. / But I’d shut my eyes in the sentry box, / So I didn’t see nothing wrong.”) I learned the concept of reticence from “The Ballad of Minepit Shaw,” (“I reckon there’s more things told than are true / And more things true than are told.”) “A Servant When He Reigneth” is as applicable to our current political situation as “The Gods of the Copybook Headings”, and I hasten to add, just in case, that it would be equally appropriate if Obama were a blue-eyed blonde.

    But I would rather not end on that note. Kipling’s effort at parodying other poets, *The Muse among the Motors*, is almost completely forgotten these days, and it has at least a few gems in it. My favorite is his parody of Wordsworth, parodying “Lucy Gray” though taking its title from another Wordsworth poem, “The Idiot Boy”:

    He wandered down the mountain grade
    Beyond the speed assigned–
    A youth whom Justice often stayed
    And generally fined.

    He went alone, that none might know
    If he could drive or steer.
    Now he is in the ditch, and Oh!
    The differential gear!

  17. I was, perhaps, eight when I stumbled across ‘The Ballad of East and West’ in a poetry collection of Mom’s. In times of trial ‘Recessional’ comes to my lips as a prayer. And ‘The Hymn of Breaking Strain’ is the engineer’s world view.
    ‘But in our daily dealings,with stone and steel we find,
    The Gods have no such feeling of mercy for mankind. ‘

    And in times when I feel my culture has left me,
    ‘We preach in advance of the Army,
    We skirmish ahead of the Church’

  18. And how could I forget “The Village That Voted The Earth Was Flat” in “A Diversity of Creatures”

    Abuse of power, abuse of the media and the press. And so much more. All in one short story

  19. snelson134


  20. Jungle Book, Kim, Stalky and Co. Puck of Pook’s Hill. I can’t wade thru too much of any of the ones in dialect. Somehow it grate’s on my brain, lol. Say, O beautiful But Evil Space Princess, could we make a list of books, such as you mentioned? I’ll toss in a non fiction entry. “High School Subjects Self Taught” by Lewis Copeland. Mine is the 1967 single volume hard back. 28 subjects, including Latin. WB

  21. Stewart Downie

    First exposure; I’d have to go with the jungle book (movie), but my real introductions were all the references in Starship Troopers (too bad they never made it into a movie) and chapter headings in Legacy of Heorot.
    I love his military oriented poems, and like others always took a copy of his complete verse to the sandbox.
    It still impresses me how relevant his poems are, over a century after he wrote them; Tommy and White Mans Burden still ring true. The Widows Party and The Roman Centurions song also work well, especially for those of us that have spent years OCONUS.
    I always find it amusing how much of Kipling has slipped into common usage without people knowing where the phrases came from; particularly ironic hearing someone denounce Kipling while using phrases he wrote.

  22. “Kipling’s Science Fiction” edited by John Brunner. Very highly recommended.

  23. Son’s of Martha explains a great deal, especially when read with Jerry Pournnelle’s introduction:

    My favorite, however, has always been If. And then last month after reading chapter of The Jungle Book it occurred to me that he might like to hear something of Kipling besides that and Just So Stories. So without realizing what I was doing I pulled down my copy and started reading him If as he listened attentively. I’m not a weeper but as the poem went on I suddenly realized there was a little bit of dust or pollen or something in the room. Ahem. When I got to the end:

    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

    The difference between reading that poem in a high school English class and reading it to your young son is like the difference between reading the word “ouch” and hitting your thumb with a hammer.

  24. sabrinachase

    I love “Rikki-tikki-tavi” and “The Elephant’s Child”. The poetry I can take in small doses–to me it tends to the overly sentimental and cloying, but that could be a product of the times. Styles do change. “Elephant’s Child”, however, is eternal 🙂 (For that is the way that Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake *always* talk!)

  25. Heh. I can tell from the comments I come from a slightly…different generation than most of the other respondents! 🙂
    My earliest Kipling exposures were (in no exact order…it was a long time ago, and I was very young!) /The Jungle Book/, /The Second Jungle Book/, and the movie version ( of /Captains Courageous/ with Spencer Tracy and Freddie Bartholomew.

    My first encounter with Kipling’s verse–aside from any that were in the Jungle Books) was /Recessional/, in the form of a hymn (, included in the 1940 Episcopalian Hymnal but sadly eliminated from what I still think of as the “new” (1982) Episcopalian Hymnal. Still chokes me up, especially the third verse…

  26. I remember being excited that The Jungle Book was an actual book and I used my allowance to buy a paperback book from the Walmart Classics bin (2 books for $1) that was titled The Jungle Book and Other Stories. My dad found me reading it and handed me my grandmother’s volume of his poetry.

    “If” was always one of my favorites and it makes me think of my dad every time.

  27. Pingback: A Call to Kipple – Cedar Writes

  28. I took up the challenge, and illustrated it with book porn…

  29. If you like to kipple, then you might like Frederick Turner too.

    And there lies Texas, beaten again in the last election…

    I didn’t care for his science fiction epic as much as his later works, I must admit.

  30. every chance I get!

  31. (Audio Book)

    Are we Huns and Hoydens not like cats?

    • In my yearbook (HS) I was compared to Kipling’s Cat. It seemed accurate – I was one of the two who went the farthest away to college to get the h-ll away from the rest of my graduating class.

  32. thewerewife

    Ah! Let us kipple together…. I started with The Jungle Books too, but it feels a little different when “Mowgli’s Brothers” is read to you in [what was then West] Pakistan. We had mongooses in our garden and kites wheeled above the schoolyard to seize dropped lunches. That was when I began to realize my true species preference. It’s also why I never warmed to the Disney version – it stripped too much dignity from the characters, particularly Baloo. As for the verse, my current favorites are “The Ballad of East and West” for narrative and “The Old Issue” for politics (thanks for the video, qbzzt!).

    If you’ll permit me a brief rant: It looks as if our “educational” system wants to keep the young from kippling ever again. A new colleague of mine, mid-20s and fresh out of grad school with a newly minted MLS, made the mistake of declaring pompously in my hearing, “The problem with Rupert [sic] Kipling is that he was such a racist!” She was just asking for me to wheel on her – “Have you ever actually READ him?” (As if confirmation was needed.) Nope. Once the “teacher” had told her what to think, that was it. I can only hope that I’d been able to pique some interest in the minute or two I had at that point.

    • I’d have started reciting “The Mother Lodge” and asked what about it was racist. Or the blood-brothers stanzas from “Ballad of East and West.” But I’m rude that way. 🙂

    • My rebuttal to ‘he was racist’ is in two poems, “Gunga Din” and “Fuzzy Wuzz”. I doubt they’d understand the profound respect in either, though. Ballad of East and West is another one.

      I’m luring my husband into poetry using Kipling. *shifty eyes*

      • If he likes that, try Banjo Patterson (Aussie Kipling) and Browning.

        • Taking notes. 🙂 I’m also trying to find a not-falling-apart hard copy of Horatius at the Bridge for him.

          • “There was movement at the station for the word had passed around
            That the colt from old Regret had got away
            And joined the wild bush horses—He was worth a thousand pounds,
            And all the cracks had gathered to the fray;
            All the tried and noted riders from the country near and far
            Had gathered at the homestead overnight
            For the bushman loves hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
            And the stock horse snuffs the battle with delight.”

            Opening stanza of Patterson’s “Man from Snowy River.”

            • GoneLikeSmoke

              A fun poem made into a fun movie. I didn’t care much for the sequel though.

              “Clancy of the Overflow” is still my favorite Patterson.

              • Oh yes. “But I doubt he’d suit the office – Clancy of the Overflow.” 🙂 Somewhere I’ve got a cassette tape with that sung on it, and I need to convert it to MP3. I can’t find a CD or MP3 recording available for sale.

        • Second Banjo Patterson. Oh, Browning, too, but Patterson was told and sung to me as a child. It’s stuck to me like bacon fried potatoes stick to your ribs.

  33. My introduction was, of course, The Jungle Book.

    But my favorite Kipling to this day is a poem I discovered not long after my first wife left which even now remarried tends to sum up my opinion on women, marriage, and dating, especiallly on very bad days: The Betrothed

    And a woman is only a woman, but a good Cigar is a Smoke.

  34. It’s hard to say at what point I became exposed to Kipling. I saw the Disney Jungle Book at a very young age and was reading the Just-So Stories similarly early, but it was a long time before I realized that the two of them were from the same author, and longer still before I realized that he was also the author of many adult works.

    As to my favorite, no question, “Recessional.” There’s something haunting about it that echoes in my mind. I also find it an interesting contrast with Kipling’s usual reputation among today’s SJWs. You wonder how a “racist, imperialist” could watch the pomp and majesty and triumph surrounding Victoria’s jubilee…and write “Recessional” about it.

  35. I was going to say I don’t know what my first Kipling was, but I think I actually may. I had Just-So stories on tape when I was very little.

    • I should add that I didn’t particularly care for them. The repetitive phrases annoyed me. Waste of time, get on with the story!

      I probably wouldn’t have got into Captains Courageous, Kim, and the rest, had I realized they were the same author. I saw Jungle Book, Disney version, in the theater with a friend as a child–would never have guessed it was the same author. But movies are like that. I’ve read some of his poetry–ROTC cadets and cadre were into it, and now y’all. But I don’t like most poetry, and it didn’t do much but make me informed enough to carry on a conversation, or pass on to a poetry-appreciating friend or three, which is probably quite enough.

  36. Christopher M. Chupik

    Count me as another who discovered Kipling through Ringo, after years of only hearing what an evil imperialist jingoist he supposedly was. Surprise, surprise, the media lied.

    • I discovered Kipling through my older son then a toddler, who discovered it because our cleaning lady gave him the complete works on tape. This accounts for Robert STILL loving Kipling and also speaking with a slight British accent. Also, possibly, for his fascination with Indian women.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        Well, the women of the subcontinent are among the most gorgeous on Earth, after all.

      • There are times I believe that as a child I was met by a perfect storm in story telling. One of my most treasured childhood possessions is the two Alice books on LPs read by the incomparable Cyril Richard.

        Sadly, right now we do not have a functioning turn table to play them upon, but never mind. One day we may once again. And until that day I can still hear it in my mind.

        • An mp3 reprint of the album is available on Amazon, albeit it seems to be only Wonderland. Look under “Cyril Ritchard” and make sure it’s the same guy.

  37. I think the class read Rikki Tikki Tavi in 4th grade. I read Captains Courageous in Junior High. I generally am exposed to his poetry here, at Chaos Manor, or similar sites. I’ve only been exposed to his good stuff.

    I was visiting the Nobel Museum in Stockholm. I was getting rather depressed in the literature and peace sections when I stumbled across a poster on Kipling. It was gratifying to realize that the prize committee wasn’t always overrun with progressives.

  38. Other than the Disney-fied The Jungle Book, I learned of Kipling through an act of rebellion. The official reading books for our class that year were so terrible that our teachers broke out old books from a previous generation or two. So it was we learned of authors such as O. Henry and, of course Kipling. And, oddly, I can’t remember the story, for in the same section were other tales of India, such as The Dinner Party by Mona Gardener, and for a long time I thought he had written it.

    The first story I definitely remember as his was The Man Who Would be King, but I didn’t like it as much as The Man Who Was, which I read because it was Kipling, and which stayed with me a number of years. My favorite has to be The Finest Story in the World, which has to be one of the best fantasy stories I’ve ever read.

    For poems, the winner has to be Tommy, hands down. I identify more with The Sons of Martha, though.

  39. Growing up I found captain’s courageous in a children’s illustrated reader and loved it. Heard ‘Gods’ here and it’s sobering. Tommy came during the blue/black lives matter kerfuffles

  40. I can’t believe no one has mentioned the movies “The Man Who Would Be King.” and “Gunga Din”
    Good movies.

  41. The first Kipling that I read for myself was “Puck of Pook’s Hill.” Then the “Jungle Book,” assorted poetry, “Kim,” “Captains Courageous,” and on and on…

    When it comes to Kipling’s poetry, I just list it as “assorted” because most of the poetry I learned as a child came orally from my grandparents. I didn’t actually know which poet wrote which poem until much later in life.

  42. First was “The Broken Men”, my father’s favorite Kipling poem. Though I preferred Fuzzy-Wuzzy and The Holy War and France. Also The Young Queen and The Lesson.

    I’m actually weak on Kipling’s prose, which is on my huge to-read list.

  43. Scott Huggins..”My favorite poem of Kipling’s has to be “Tomlinson,” about the man who had lived a life so without deeds, that the Devil sent him back to do something bad before he died, lest he pollute Hell with his mediocrity.” I was struck by these lines:

    The Spirit gripped him by the hair, and sun by sun they fell
    Till they came to the belt of Naughty Stars that rim the mouth of Hell.
    The first are red with pride and wrath, the next are white with pain,
    But the third are black with clinkered sin that cannot burn again.

    …which I think can be read as describing phases in individual or social disintegration….and referenced the poem in my post Sleeping with the Enemy:

  44. I grew up on Kipling especially “The Jungle Book” and “Just-so Stories”.

    My favorite poems of his are, in no particular order: Tommy, If, Hymn to Breaking Strain, The Sons of Martha, The Gods of the Copybook Headings. Every so often, when I want a chuckle and a view of a honorable man, I re-read “A Code of Morals”.

  45. The Jungle Book, Kim, Soldiers Three, and “With the Night Mail” — more or less in that order. Not so sure of the order for the poetry…

  46. Col. Mustard: I prefer Kipling myself. “The female of the species is more deadly than the male.” Do you like Kipling, Miss Scarlet?
    Miss Scarlet: Sure, I’ll eat anything.

  47. BobtheRegisterredFool

    First, I hated the Disney Jungle Book. I often don’t get on with musicals.

    I saw cartoon versions of the mongoose and maybe the seal stories. I bounced off the first Jungle Book, but enjoyed those stories in the second.

    At that point, I still thought I hated poetry. Ringo changed that by introducing me to Kipling’s poetry.

    (Ringo, Denbeste, and Kipling’s Sons of Martha, Hymn of Breaking Strain, and Sappers were latter instrumental in my decision of what I wanted to do at the end of secondary schooling.)

    Secret of the Machines is a more recent favorite.

    Lately I’ve been into The Dykes.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Kim, and I got into Bridge Builders before losing track. (I’m actually pretty flaky in some ways.)

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Rikki Tikki Tivi is a favorite of mine in cartoon and in the original.

    • First, I hated the Disney Jungle Book.
      I’m old enough to remember the live-action Jungle Book with Sabu. Not wholly faithful, but at least no singing and dancing.

  48. My first was the Disney Jungle Book movie and I remember looking at the book in my grandma’s basement but I don’t remember reading it. (Which means I probably didn’t.)The first time I read God’s of the Copybook Heading’s was after it was mentioned here and I asked my mom what it was. That was also the first time I knew who the Kipling was. I haven’t actually read any of his other stuff, I should do that.

  49. Just-So Stories first, I think, and I don’t know whether the Rikki-Tikki-Tavi cartoon or The Jungle Book (and The Second Jungle Book) came next for me. On reflection I probably read the stories in The Jungle Book piecemeal to some extent…. Disney’s movie was much later, and I might have read a picture book excerpt of it in a collection before seeing it… I think I saw the whole thing through only a few years ago. I was very weirded out by Kaa 1. wanting to eat Mowgli and 2. having Pooh Bear’s voice.

  50. Loved The Jungle Book, Kim, and so much more. The movies, serious and otherwise, not so much. Hollywood has always had an agenda.

    I was quoting bits of half-forgotten lore the first three times I went abroad. People are people and Kipling knew them. And though he wrote much of India, the people of England, Korea, and Mexico are just the same. And so are we.

    Kipling has been accused of many things; but a racist he was not. Unless you mean the Human Race.

  51. My first exposure was likely the animated Rikki Tikki Tavi, which I’ve not seen in ages (and when I reference at all, gets blank looks unless I am speaking to someone of approximately my own age or more ancient still). Then it was likely random snippets here and there, and perhaps even avoided – not for any alleged racism, but that it was Classics, which meant to me, as Twain(?) put it, “[Things] everybody wants to have read, but nobody wants to read.” And considering what ‘classics’ are in school… but then I did start encountering some of his stuff here and there. Often without realizing the original source (Leslie Fish’ version of Tomlinson for example). And then here (ATH) where Gods of the Copybook Heading shows up repeatedly – which is good as it took a bit for slow ox to fully grasp it. And, oh, Sons of Martha. That speaks to me:
    They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
    They do not teach that His Pity allows them to drop their job when they dam’-well choose.

    So many heads that that so desperately need to get into.

  52. I am the son of a soldier, grandson of a coal miner, and a love of books was bred in me as sure as bone and blood. I Kipple as a breathe and eat. *chuckle* How could I not?

    “A Moral Code” always makes me smile. To add to others sight of current events, add “The City of Brass,” “The Dane-Geld,” and even “The Truce of the Bear.” The Gods of the Copybook Headings I memorized years ago, long before the current resident began to occupy the White House. The others ye good folk have mentioned, I second, too.

    Kipling is also who and what got me into scribbling myself, back when. Could’ve been worse- music is also in my family, and I have the voice of an asthmatic frog (I scare cats when I sing). The world is fortunate to have been spared that. *grin*

  53. I like Kipling’s poetry, but I’m not day-to-day conversant with much of it. I’ve read Kim (more than once), and started (and abandoned) Puck of Pook’s Hill. I’m a bit more familiar with the works of Robert Service and Ogden Nash :-), and have significant amounts of all three in my library.

  54. ironbear055

    Do You Kipple?

    Ever since my dad turned me on to the Jungle Books and Rikki-tikki-tavi at the age of around seven or so.

    “So, a question: do you recall what your first introduction to Rudyard Kipling’s work was? And what is your favorite poem or story of his?”

    I was a wee child. And easily, Red Dog on stories, and Rimini, Cold Iron, and Large Birds of Prey on poems. Tomlinson runs a close fourth.

  55. I’ve been a voracious reader as long as I can remember. I think finding a copy of Rikki-tikki-tavi at a fairly young age is partly to blame. The story really caught my imagination. So much so that I really remember the reading of it, if not the details of the story (Oddly, I haven’t re-read it since). I should get a copy and read it again. I bet the difference between, what? Probably 6 or 7 and forty-mumble-mumble will make it a completely different story.

    Sadly, I have never been able to get into poetry. As much as I read everything I can get my hands on, poetry just doesn’t do it for me for some reason.

  56. The Just So stories were the best beloved Kipling for me.

  57. I would have to say Ringo got me into it in a focused way – I had always heard about him but never figured out that I should read him. Then I started reading some, and realized I had internalized some of his stuff before. I also found a copy of one of his old books in a used book store – of course I can’t find it at the moment to tell you which one it was. 😦 But that is pretty standard.

    Thanks to kitty for posting everything – I will raid your website. 🙂 I will take it with me to read on my vacation – which is coming up but not fast enough.

    Also, anyone – how does someone get their book on the promo post – I have a friend who is asked – he won’t post but finally got his first offering up on Kindle (I think last night) – oooh – exciting – a new author hatches! (I assume they hatch from all the shells around this place…)


    • Oh, Sarah, his name is Edmund Paul – he might have tried to friend you on facebook. You can still ignore him, but at least it isn’t just a stranger trying to friend you. 🙂

  58. I do Kipple from time to time. My parents had a collection of children’s stories with Rikki-Tikki-tavi, and the Elephant’s Child. They also had had a copy of the Jungle Book which I read quite early, and one of Captains Courageous that floated around the house for years before I finally sat down and read that. I looked up more of the just-so stories on my own. One of my high school classes had a poetry reading of Gunga Din. I encountered “Recessional” via the Mormon hymnbook and “Female of the Species” via Leslie Fish, and the Gods of the Copybook Headings has been posted here many times.

  59. I always knew the names of four of Kipling’s books, because we had Authors and played the card game. (For the uninitiated, it is a didactic Go Fish for little kids. You collect cards arranged in suits of books by famous American authors, with a few UK authors and poets thrown in. The weird thing is that as a kid, you haven’t read any of the authors yet.) We also watched the Rikki cartoon on television. My parents bought us those super-cheap K-Mart reprints of the classics on newsprint paper, with the same kind of binding as a cheap puzzle book. So we had the Jungle Book and Captains Courageous.

    I got into Kipling’s poetry in high school, bought a Complete Verse in college, and of course have many of the filk and non-filk song settings on CD and tape. I also read a wonderful color illustrated first US edition of the Night Mail and sf stories back at my university’s library, which I think is digitized on Gutenberg or somewhere. I have read a lot of his novels and short stories, but that’s probably only half of what he put out.

  60. Elephant’s Child in a book of stories/poems for young kids. Then the Jungle Books, and finally poetry (some of which I’ve evidently missed from the preceding comments — I’ll have to hunt).

    I was glad to see at least two mentions of With the Night Mail.

  61. First exposure would either be The Jungle Book or Rikki-tikki-Tavi cartoon as a child. But John Ringo really fanned the interest from something casual to a more focused view.

    I’ve been lucky enough to find a couple of copies of Barracks Room ballads, one of which I believe was printed in 1898. My favorites have to be Tommy, Sgt. Whatshisname, Recessional and Gunga Din.

  62. Kipling is great. I think one of my teachers read a little of The Jungle Book to the class in about first or second grade. I remember hearing a little bit of Gunga Din before seeing the Mister Magoo version on TV. We read Rikki Tikki Tavi in Junior High. Since then I’ve read a few of his novels and short stories, as well as his better known poems.

    One of my friends sometimes calls me Rudyard, which I find kind of flattering.

  63. adventuresfantastic

    A number of years (and by years I mean decades), Baen publsihed a tribute anthology to Kipling entitled A Seperate Star. It was edited by Daivd Drake and Sandra Miesel and contained stories by Heinlein, Anderson, Dickson, and Drake, among others. I’ve got a copy around somewhere. I’m going to have to dig it out.

  64. YellowShapedBox

    My introduction was either The Cat Who Walks By Himself, or the adaptation of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi for Bill Martin’s reader, Sounds of Mystery. Can’t remember which.

    My favorite Kipling thing has to be Leslie Fish’s rendition of “The Old Issue.” The version by that title, mind you, on the Lock & Load CD. The inclusion of the opening stanzas really makes it.

  65. “Tommy”, “Danny Deever”, and the rest of the “Barrack Room Ballads” (we’re a military family; my immediate family has over a century in uniform), followed by the “Just So Stories” and “Jungle Book”. I read the “Just So Stories” and “Jungle Book” when my son was pre-K little; when he went into first grade, the teacher was complaining that he read at a 3rd grade level.

  66. Can’t remember what was first.

    But favorite?
    The Three-Decker

    “The three-volume novel is extinct.”

    Full thirty foot she towered from waterline to rail.
    It cost a watch to steer her, and a week to shorten sail;
    But, spite all modern notions, I found her first and best—
    The only certain packet for the Islands of the Blest.

    Fair held the breeze behind us—’twas warm with lovers’ prayers.
    We’d stolen wills for ballast and a crew of missing heirs.
    They shipped as Able Bastards till the Wicked Nurse confessed,
    And they worked the old three-decker to the Islands of the Blest.

    By ways no gaze could follow, a course unspoiled of Cook,
    Per Fancy, fleetest in man, our titled berths we took
    With maids of matchless beauty and parentage unguessed,
    And a Church of England parson for the Islands of the Blest.

    We asked no social questions—we pumped no hidden shame—
    We never talked obstetrics when the Little Stranger came:
    We left the Lord in Heaven, we left the fiends in Hell.
    We weren’t exactly Yussufs, but—Zuleika didn’t tell.

    No moral doubt assailed us, so when the port we neared,
    The villain had his flogging at the gangway, and we cheered.
    ’Twas fiddle in the forc’s’le—’twas garlands on the mast,
    For every one got married, and I went ashore at last.

    I left ’em all in couples a-kissing on the decks.
    I left the lovers loving and the parents signing cheques.
    In endless English comfort by county-folk caressed,
    I left the old three-decker at the Islands of the Blest!

    That route is barred to steamers: you’ll never lift again
    Our purple-painted headlands or the lordly keeps of Spain.
    They’re just beyond your skyline, howe’er so far you cruise
    In a ram-you-damn-you liner with a brace of bucking screws.

    Swing round your aching search-light—’twill show no haven’s peace.
    Ay, blow your shrieking sirens to the deaf, gray-bearded seas!
    Boom out the dripping oil-bags to skin the deep’s unrest—
    And you aren’t one knot the nearer to the Islands of the Blest!

    But when you’re threshing, crippled, with broken bridge and rail,
    At a drogue of dead convictions to hold you head to gale,
    Calm as the Flying Dutchman, from truck to taffrail dressed,
    You’ll see the old three-decker for the Islands of the Blest.

    You’ll see her tiering canvas in sheeted silver spread;
    You’ll hear the long-drawn thunder ’neath her leaping figure-head;
    While far, so far above you, her tall poop-lanterns shine
    Unvexed by wind or weather like the candles round a shrine!

    Hull down—hull down and under—she dwindles to a speck,
    With noise of pleasant music and dancing on her deck.
    All’s well—all’s well aboard her—she’s left you far behind,
    With a scent of old-world roses through the fog that ties you blind.

    Her crew are babes or madmen? Her port is all to make?
    You’re manned by Truth and Science, and you steam for steaming’s sake?
    Well, tinker up your engines—you know your business best—
    She’s taking tired people to the Islands of the Blest!”

    ― Rudyard Kipling

    • Though “Cold Iron” also has its charms:

      Gold is for the mistress — silver for the maid —
      Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade.”
      “Good!” said the Baron, sitting in his hall,
      “But Iron — Cold Iron — is master of them all.”

      So he made rebellion ‘gainst the King his liege,
      Camped before his citadel and summoned it to siege.
      “Nay!” said the cannoneer on the castle wall,
      “But Iron — Cold Iron — shall be master of you all!”

      Woe for the Baron and his knights so strong,
      When the cruel cannon-balls laid ’em all along;
      He was taken prisoner, he was cast in thrall,
      And Iron — Cold Iron — was master of it all!

      Yet his King spake kindly (ah, how kind a Lord!)
      “What if I release thee now and give thee back thy sword?”
      “Nay!” said the Baron, “mock not at my fall,
      For Iron — Cold Iron — is master of men all.”

      “Tears are for the craven, prayers are for the clown —
      Halters for the silly neck that cannot keep a crown.”
      “As my loss is grievous, so my hope is small,
      For Iron — Cold Iron — must be master of men all!”

      Yet his King made answer (few such Kings there be!)
      “Here is Bread and here is Wine — sit and sup with me.
      Eat and drink in Mary’s Name, the whiles I do recall
      How Iron — Cold Iron — can be master of men all!”

      He took the Wine and blessed it. He blessed and brake the Bread.
      With His own Hands He served Them, and presently He said:
      “See! These Hands they pierced with nails, outside My city wall,
      Show Iron — Cold Iron — to be master of men all.”

      “Wounds are for the desperate, blows are for the strong.
      Balm and oil for weary hearts all cut and bruised with wrong.
      I forgive thy treason — I redeem thy fall —
      For Iron — Cold Iron — must be master of men all!”

      “Crowns are for the valiant — sceptres for the bold!
      Thrones and powers for mighty men who dare to take and hold!”
      “Nay!” said the Baron, kneeling in his hall,
      “But Iron — Cold Iron — is master of men all!
      Iron out of Calvary is master of men all!”

  67. My first exposure to actual Kipling as opposed to Disney Kipling was through John Ringo.
    I suppose it’s a mark of my low taste that he and Robert Frost are my two favorite poets.

    • If you like Kipling, another poet with a vaguely similar style would be Robert Service. Most Boy Scouts (and probably most Scouts period…) are familiar with “The Cremation of Sam McGee”, which I believe is read at every Scouting event. He’s not as good, or as prolific, as Kipling, but his “Spell of the Yukon” does have that same feel.

      • I first heard “The Cremation of Sam McGee” from a Canadian roommate who had it memorized.
        However, I once was a Cub Scout, and the Cub Scouting program was in part based on The Jungle Book. Baden-Powell and Kipling were apparently good friends.

  68. GoneLikeSmoke

    I was exposed to Kipling around age 5 or so from one of two sources, but I can’t for the life of me remember which came first. It was either the Disney version of “The Jungle Book” or my grandfather reading Kipling’s poems to me. The latter has certainly had far more impact on my life, at any rate. I can still quote “If” and “The Ballad of East and West” in their entirety on command.

  69. Our glorious hostess would probably get a kick out of “Judson and the Empire” from Many Inventions. Actually lots of people will because it’s very humourous, but I’m thinking she’ll appreciate it extra special

  70. My mom read her childhood copy of Just So Stories aloud to me when I was very young. My dad had taken over the read-to-children-at-bedtime by the time we got to The Jungle Book. I loved it as a child, but did not perceive some of its most wonderful qualities until I re-read it as an adult. Fantastic stuff! Obviously it is time to seek out more Kipling, because those two books are the only works of his that I have read.

  71. Eric Fithian

    “Though I’ve fettered you and flayed you–
    By the living God that made you,
    You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!” ..used at the close of “The Last Blast of the Blasted Bugler,” by Sonny Gianotta, a screamingly-funny (at least to juveniles) novelty record from 1962.
    –it’s on YouTube—
    “The Man Who Would Be King” was the first broadcast (1947) of the CBS radio anthology series “Escape.”
    I cannot recall my first exposure to Kipling, though I have recently memorized The Gods of the Copy-Book Headings….

  72. Kim is my favorite, and like practically everybody else, I started with The Jungle Book.

  73. While I like A lot of Disney, and love some of it, I have a hard time forgiving them for sucking all the subtle out of Pooh, amd for making Kaa into an enemy of Mowgli.

    Kipling favorites?

    Letting in the jungle

    Old men at Pevensy

    The village that voted the earth was flat

    On the Gate, a tale of ’16

    Brushwood boy

    The Janeites

    And two volumes of non-fiction: THE CITY OF DREADFUL NIGHT and FROM SEA TO SEA

  74. ‘With the Night Mail’: Every Tom, Dick, and Harry could write about ‘flying machines,’ but it took Kipling to imagine the Air Traffic Control system.

  75. Kipling’s short stories are amazing, both in content and in range. The later ones, written after his son was killed in WW1 and he had headed the Graves Registry, are much deeper and complex. Read “The Garnener”, amonst others. “Dayspring Mishandled” is a dagger-point. And “The Village that Voted the Earth was flat” – wonderful.

  76. I started with an illustrated ‘Just-so Stories’ then moved to ‘Kim’ and ‘Captain’s Courageous’. Saw a BritTV version of ‘Stalky & Co’ back in the 80’s before I read the book.

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned ‘McAndrew’s Hymn’! It begins:

    Lord, Thou hast made this world below the shadow of a dream,
    An’, taught by time, I tak’ it so – exceptin’ always Steam.
    From coupler-flange to spindle-guide I see Thy Hand, O God –
    Predestination in the stride o’ yon connectin’-rod.
    – and my favorite section—-
    I’m sick of all their quirks an’ turns – the loves an’ doves they dream –
    Lord, send a man like Robbie Burns to sing the Song o’ Steam!
    To match wi’ Scotia’s noblest speech yon orchestra sublime
    Whaurto – uplifted like the Just – the tail-rods mark the time.
    The Crank-throws give the double-bass; the feed-pump sobs an’ heaves:
    An’ now the main eccentrics start their quarrel on the sheaves.
    Her time, her own appointed time, the rocking link-head bides,
    Till – hear that note?-the rod’s return whings glimmerin’ through the guides.
    They’re all awa! True beat, full power, the clangin’ chorus goes
    Clear to the tunnel where they sit, my purrin’ dynamoes.

    Cost vs. Value, the labor of business, ‘Goin’ Home Turns’, liberty in foreign ports, all in one poem…. Genius.

    Other favorites are ‘The ship that found herself’, ‘With the Night Mail’, ‘As the Bell Clinks’, and ‘Hymn of Breaking Strain’

    Yes, I’m an engineer (by breeding) and submarine sailor…

  77. Pretty much all Canadian engineers Kipple, at least once in their lives whether they know it or not.

    Round about the early 1920s, Herbert Haultain, then at University of Toronto, floated the idea of an oath for engineers, much along the same lines as the Hippocratic oath for doctors. He and his colleagues wrote to Mr. Kipling, asking if he would like to contribute to such a ceremony. Not only did Mr. Kipling he like the idea, he wrote back with the entire ceremony! Thus, the Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer was born, also known as our Iron Ring ceremony. The first one was held at U of T in 1925 when the first engineers took the oath, swearing upon cold iron their fealty to pursue the profession with all due rigour.

    Since then, it has been an ongoing Canadian tradition for all engineers to take the oath on graduation from school, and is open to Canadian engineers who have worked (who may not have gone to school in Canada) for some time in Canada.

    (It should be noted, that the iron for the rings was never from a collapsed bridge in Quebec, as the popular myth goes.)

    Myself, I am not encyclopaedically familiar with all of his work, though it started for me many, many moons ago with the Jungle Book.

  78. Don’t remember when I got into Kipling – most likely in elementary school. I read everything in the school library by time I was in the 5th grade. I do remember having to do an illustrated short story report and selecting “Rikki-tikki-tavi – probably in junior-high. Over the years I’ve managed to pick up a couple of first editions of his America printings – probably in a second-hand book store. Every now and then I find them as I’m repacking books for a move.

  79. By a curious coincidence…. Here is our Annotated All The Mowgli Stories In Order:

    I cannot remember when I first had Ruddy in my ken. Possibly at birth.