Do You Kipple?- by Alma Boykin



*Sorry about guest post, but I’m trying to finish Alien Curse and release to betas. And I woke up late and have a doctor’s appointment. – SAH*

Do You Kipple?- by 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, with the possible exception of 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?

137 thoughts on “Do You Kipple?- by Alma Boykin

  1. Kipple? A familiarity with Kipling is practically the secret password among libertarians and conservatives these days.
    My first exposure? Mom reading “The Jungle Book” to us, when I was about four or five.
    At present, I have ALL of his short story collections on my shelves.

  2. Not so much as in my younger, wilder days, but I still occasionally take a shot or two of the stuff, straight or with a chaser of Service.

  3. Of course I do. Though I’ve forgotten much of it after over 70 years fron first reading. I think my first encounter was the Just So Stories, with the Jungle Book a close second.

  4. I haven’t been, aside from some of the poetry (“The Sons of Martha” strike a note, among the others). I think the TBR stack just grew.

  5. First exposure: The Rikki Tikki Tavi cartoon.

    Favorite poem: White Man’s Burden. I took a couple dozen copies with me to Iraq to hand out when other soldiers would ask, “Why are we here?”

    Second favorite: The Grave of the Hundred Head.

    Memorized: The Coward. “I could not look on Death, which being known, Men led me to him, blindfold and alone.”

  6. “The correct dialect of fish.” Would that be Leslie? I thought that kippling was required every three days by one of our bylaws.

    1. Leslie is certainly my favorite dialect with classic lines like “Grandma went out with a bang” and “So when some fanatics are out to have fun, There’s nowhere to hide and there’s nowhere to run. Then pray that the law lets you carry a gun, But fight back however you can.”

      When we lose her she won’t get a tenth of the mourns Kurt Cobain did while she’ll deserve as many as Bowie got.

  7. First exposure would have been the Just So Stories, and then the Jungle Book. His poetry, at least some of it, and Kim came next. I really haven’t read much else of his. Robert Service is probably my next favorite, but his stuff isn’t quite as heroic as some of Kipling’s work is, probably because of Kipling’s exposure to the military and war.

  8. My dad would read them to us for bedtime stories when we were infants. I still remember bits and pieces of one where a prospector was trying to get the frozen body of his partner back to civilization, or at least the approximate, because he’d promised to cremate him when he died, when he finds a great abandoned ship frozen and crushed in the ice, and thinks, “Wait, this will burn. I can fulfill my oath and be done with this.” He loads his friend’s body into the ship, lights it afire, and as he’s leaving thinks he sees his late friend dancing in the flame shouting that this is the first time he’s been warm in years…

    I suppose this is how I got to a point where I’ll sketch cold opens that include a love lost lady, attending the wedding of her beloved, to another woman, whom he does not love, but must marry to ensure the stability of the kingdom, thinking about how she wants to pull her beating heart out, delving into the practical details of how to do so without actually dieing in the process (she is a rather powerful mage after all), and finally concluding that while it would be a very gratifying display, it would probably upset things, and she really shouldn’t do that, and that she needs to recompose herself, because her expression is scaring the neighbors.

    One of these days I actually need to write that arc…

    1. That sounds like Robert Service’s “The Cremation of Sam McGee”

      There are strange things done in the midnight sun
      By the men who moil for gold;
      The Arctic trails have their secret tales
      That would make your blood run cold;
      The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
      But the queerest they ever did see
      Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
      I cremated Sam McGee.

      Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
      Why he left his home in the South to roam ’round the Pole, God only knows.
      He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
      Though he’d often say in his homely way that “he’d sooner live in hell.”


      Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay;
      It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the “Alice May.”
      And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum;
      Then “Here,” said I, with a sudden cry, “is my cre-ma-tor-eum.”

      Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire;
      Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;
      The flames just soared, and the furnace roared—such a blaze you seldom see;
      And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.


      I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
      But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;
      I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: “I’ll just take a peep inside.
      I guess he’s cooked, and it’s time I looked”; … then the door I opened wide.

      And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
      And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: “Please close that door.
      It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm—
      Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.”

      There are strange things done in the midnight sun
      By the men who moil for gold;
      The Arctic trails have their secret tales
      That would make your blood run cold;
      The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
      But the queerest they ever did see
      Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
      I cremated Sam McGee.

      1. Once I’ve cleared the other priorities? Probably as soon as I can figure out Mordred happens that makes sense.

        Actually that transform has a number of problems with characters missing complete personalities at key stages of their development. I really need to collect all of the plot bunnies and gut a few dozen of them.

        1. Though to be really fair, I’d also need to settle on that specific plot bunny and decide to run that thread to the end, from its initial hero’s journey to the hero’s final downfall. That sequence is actually kind of in the middle, and may actually be at a part of the arc that wouldn’t be an important part of it be Yong establishing her character and several of her dynamics in my headcannon for that story universe…

  9. I believe I cut my teeth on Just-So Stories; it is among my oldest memories. That would have been in the Fifties, well before Disney violated the Jungle Book, which I became acquainted with some few years later. There is much of his work I have failed to find time for reading, books I very much want to have read but have never gotten ’round to reading. Kim, of course, and Stalky & Co. and Puck of Pook’s Hill. I am sure there are others, but none come to mind. Somewhere, packed in a moving box, is a collected works which I hope to find before I pass from this vale, going beyond the veil, but my “Waiting-To-Be-Read” queue is like the Marching Chinese* — growing faster than I can clear items.

    There have been some marvelous adaptations of his work. Chuck Jones did marvelous interpretations of “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” and “The White Seal” are delights, as is John Huston’s “The Man Who Would Be King.” Back in the Eighties the A&E channel picked up a BBC serial based on Stalky, a series which remains inexplicably unavailable on video**.

    *Is it still permitted to use that phrase?

    **Except for owners of Region 2 players

    1. Stalky IS available on DVD. I have it, but haven’t had the courage to watch….yet. Don’t remember if it’s another region, though.

      STALKY is the first Kipling that I remember my parents reading to me, though I suspect THE JUNGLE BOOKS or JUST SO STORIES came earlier. After STALKY came PUCK OF POOK’S HILL and REWARDS AND FARIES. CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS was never a facorite of mine, except from the moment the parents get the telegraph saying the boy is alive.

      In my teens I read pretty much the entire bibliography, though I choked on THE NAUHALAKA, THE STORY OF THE GADSBYS, and one or two others.The nonfiction, such as THE CITY OF DREADFUL NIGHT and FROM SEA TO SEA are neglected treasures; FSTS ends (if you have the right edition) with Kipling meeting and talking with Mark Twain!

      Favorites? STALKY, the PUCK books, and then a handful of shorts. ‘The village that voted the earth was flat’ and ‘The vortex’ are hysterical.’My son’s wife’ shows Kipling’s (low) opinion of the Left. And I end up reading KIM about once a year.

  10. As others first exposure: The Rikki Tikki Tavi cartoon and Jungle Book.
    I’ve collected a few books of Kipling but my favorites are the Barracks Room Ballads and Regimental Ditties. I have a couple of copies from the late 1800’s as I can’t stop myself from buying them when I see books that old 😉

    Ringo’s use of Kipling in the Posleen series re-ignited my reading of the poems. Tommy, Gunga-Din and Bo da Throne are some of my favorites but especially Tommy.

    1. Was just running back to say I’d forgotten to mention Tommy for quoting.

      It’s Tommy this, and Tommy that….

      Is cheaper than ‘is uniform….

  11. Growing up in California during the 70s meant that for a straight boy to read poetry voluntarily, he must obviously be gay (at least in the view of his peers, and at that time and place that could be dangerous). Nevertheless, I learned to like two poets: Poe and Kipling. To a young boy, Poe was spooky and that was okay, but Kipling was an adventure! Blood, war, honor, duty–Barrack-Room Ballads is still a brilliant reflection on military life. “If…” is amazing bucket list advice, and any dog owner who can read “The Power of a Dog” and not suddenly find the room kind of smoky (IYKWIMAITTYD), simply isn’t fully human.

    Imagine my delight when, in college for the first time, my English instructor said that we were to choose any poets we liked to study for that class instead of the usual boring choices normally presented.

    Imagine my disgust when the instructor concluded: “…except Poe and Kipling, of course…”

      1. It would be necessary for me, for Poe. Also my younger sister. An English teacher who thought that playing recordings of Poe stories was a good thing for a rather young class put both of us off him for life. (Several years apart.)

  12. And of course the Seriously Judgemental Weasels have tried to appropriate Kipling for themselves:

    “Not So Stores attempts to redress the balance, bringing together new and established writers of colour from around the world to take the Just So Stories back, giving voices to cultures that were long deprived them.”

    1. Saw that book in a bookstore recently.
      Looked at the cover (as reproduced conveniently above).
      Never opened it.
      (Says the guy who will cheerfully spend 20-30 minutes in front of the shelves at a time, with the *same* book open.)

      Sometimes, on rare occasions, it *is* entirely possible to judge a book by its cover, mad 1960s cover art all aside.

      I did open the women-of-history kid’s book recently, only to trip over the breaking news that Margaret Thatcher was one of the great villains of human history. (*Naughty* Maggie!)
      Still think that one was likely better than the above.

    1. A brilliant film. You knew you were going to have a good school day back in the early 80’s when the projector was set up and either Tikki-Tikki-Tavi or The White Seal was on the reel.

    2. “First encounter? 1975, Chuck Jones’s animated version of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”
      Same here, at the jade age of 12 years, remembering when it first came on TV, CBS have hype it a lot during the week, expected to be disappointed but I was quite impress with the story, it exceed expectations.

  13. I cannot remember my first Kipling, although I suspect it would have to be something from Jungle Book.

    I can tell you my favorite without hesitation, the poem The Betrothed. In my really angry days I love to quote the line “A woman is just a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke.”

    Then again, I openly proclaim my preference for broads and that I consider broad among the highest compliments…I wonder if I can blame Kipling for that.

    1. weirdly I was introduced to Kipling via our cleaning lady giving my three year old son his complete works on tape. Which he played LOUDLY the entire time he was awake for six months until I hid the tapes.

  14. Rikki-Tikki-Tavi as a story read to me by my mother. I was just a little kid (obviously); but boy, oh boy, did I ever want to “run and find out!”

  15. My father gave me a framed copy of “If” for my 18th birthday, an antique print from the 1920s. It hangs on the wall in my house, right above pictures of my children. It has hung on the wall of each of my homes for the last 30 years, the only object that has been present everywhere that I have lived.

  16. On the other hand, you have Richard Baker’s Kipling-inspired titles for his Breaker of Empires series. I was wary at first because it’s published by Tor, but I read them and they aren’t “Tor books”, if you get my drift. Interesting take on colonialism and empire without being heavy-handed.

  17. I had Just-So stories on tape as a kid. I was not a fan. They were sloooow! (This was part being an audiobook, and part the style. I was a horrible kid for reading aloud to: Mom stuck with it until I was eight, anyway, and the last read-aloud I remember was Tale of Two Cities.) I remember seeing the animated Jungle Book with a friend in the theater at the university.

    I think I must have read Captains Courageous around the same time I got into science fiction, and then had to search out more by that author. I didn’t like Kim quite as well, but Captains Courageous entered the reread rotation.

  18. Recently read Captains Courageous. For boys, even old boys, I guess.
    Wonderful tale.

  19. First exposure would have to be Rikki-Tikki, animated. But my first knowing exposure, by which I mean having any clue who he was, was The Female of the Species. It resonated strongly with me.

  20. I’m a member of the club whose first encounter with Kipling was the animated Riki-tiki-tavi.

    During the early years of the web I stumbled across “The Last of the Light Brigade” which struck a cord in me; probably because I’m the son of a Vietnam Vet, and I remember what things were like for servicemen in the interim between the War and the Reagan years.

    The Last of the Light Brigade

    There were thirty million English who talked of England’s might,
    There were twenty broken troopers who lacked a bed for the night.
    They had neither food nor money, they had neither service nor trade;
    They were only shiftless soldiers, the last of the Light Brigade.

    They felt that life was fleeting; they knew not that art was long,
    That though they were dying of famine, they lived in deathless song.
    They asked for a little money to keep the wolf from the door;
    And the thirty million English sent twenty pounds and four !

    They laid their heads together that were scarred and lined and grey;
    Keen were the Russian sabres, but want was keener than they;
    And an old Troop-Sergeant muttered, “Let us go to the man who writes
    The things on Balaclava the kiddies at school recites.”

    They went without bands or colours, a regiment ten-file strong,
    To look for the Master-singer who had crowned them all in his song;
    And, waiting his servant’s order, by the garden gate they stayed,
    A desolate little cluster, the last of the Light Brigade.

    They strove to stand to attention, to straighen the toil-bowed back;
    They drilled on an empty stomach, the loose-knit files fell slack;
    With stooping of weary shoulders, in garments tattered and frayed,
    They shambled into his presence, the last of the Light Brigade.

    The old Troop-Sergeant was spokesman, and “Beggin’ your pardon,” he said,
    “You wrote o’ the Light Brigade, sir. Here’s all that isn’t dead.
    An’ it’s all come true what you wrote, sir, regardin’ the mouth of hell;
    For we’re all of us nigh to the workhouse, an’ we thought we’d call an’ tell.

    “No, thank you, we don’t want food, sir; but couldn’t you take an’ write
    A sort of ‘to be continued’ and ‘see next page’ o’ the fight?
    We think that someone has blundered, an’ couldn’t you tell ’em how?
    You wrote we were heroes once, sir. Please, write we are starving now.”

    The poor little army departed, limping and lean and forlorn.
    And the heart of the Master-singer grew hot with “the scorn of scorn.”
    And he wrote for them wonderful verses that swept the land like flame,
    Till the fatted souls of the English were scourged with the thing called Shame.

    They sent a cheque to the felon that sprang from an Irish bog;
    They healed the spavined cab-horse; they housed the homeless dog;
    And they sent (you may call me a liar), when felon and beast were paid,
    A cheque, for enough to live on, to the last of the Light Brigade.

    O thirty million English that babble of England’s might,
    Behold there are twenty heroes who lack their food to-night;
    Our children’s children are lisping to “honour the charge they made – ”
    And we leave to the streets and the workhouse the charge of the Light Brigade!

    1. I was looking at the notes for the poem on the Kipling society page, and they included one explaining what “stood to attention” means.

      Really? That needs to be explained? I am currently ensaddened.

      1. In the US, and I suspect much of the English speaking world, in the era of all volunteer military, service has become a family tradition. Those not from military families have no clue.

        That was true two decades ago when Frank Schaeffer wrote about his son joining the Marine Corps.

        Actually, going back to that essay, where we are today in terms of elites telling peasants to shut up and get back in ranks should not be a surprise.

        1. Father was military. Several uncles too. Grandfather was too old for service; but he did a lot of contract work for the military through General Electric. He even did some machining of parts for the A-bomb but didn’t know it at the time. My brother and I are the only ones of this generation of grandkids to do any military (both AF), much less actually retire from it.

          Neither of my boys considered it for very long. One’s autistic-NOS, the other is bright as a whip, but doesn’t follow orders worth a damn being a bit too questioning of everything. Hmmm. Sounds like Sarah’s boys at that.

          1. As Elf will point out, as far back as they have records it’s been either Navy, or an occasional black-sheep Marine. Usually just four to eight years, although his grandfather retired after WWII.

            In my family, we usually only sign up during war-time, but we DO sign up in my ancestral line. Various uncles and great-uncles found other things to do….and I’m really glad I didn’t have to listen to my Scottish great grand express himself about registering for the draft to save the country that had driven his family out because sheep paid better. From knowing his daughter, I would’ve wanted to take notes on skinning folks with your words.

    2. One of the first poems I memorized was “Charge of the Light Brigade” — now there is something that rolls trippingly off the tongue! — although it was decades before I learned that “light” referred to weaponry, not illumination.
      Kipling was always scathing about the miserable way Britain treated her military, especially the veterans.

  21. Intro: Rikki Tikki cartoon or maybe a cartoon of one of the seal stories from one of the jungle books. Before I saw McChuck’s comment, I would have credited Ringo and I think Pournelle, who got me started reading the stuff.

    I need to get back into The Bridge Builders.

    Hymn of Breaking Strain, Sons of Martha, Sappers, Secret of the Machines.

    Danegeld, The Dykes.

  22. Gunga Din and The Sons of Martha.
    Those two will be forever read wherever humanity trods it’s feet

    1. I recall a Golden Records LP of verse, intended as an introduction for kids, with Gunga Din and The Highwayman on side 1. Cannot recall what else was on the disk, probably Jabberwocky, but those first two I can still hear after sixty year.

      1. Ah! I can still declaim Jabberwocky, but The Highwayman is getting rusty, as is Gunga Din.
        I don’t think we had the recording, but I had a couple of teachers throughout my school days who required poem recitation.

  23. Back in the Eighties when the Daughtorial Unit was young we bought an awful lot of Rabbit Ears productions, prominent among them the various presentations of Kipling’s Just So Stories.

    Sadly, not available on Youtube, but if short on time skip to 9:05

    1. When they’re in your brain you tend to notice connections between the words and current events, betimes. It can be catching, so be warned. Once you start…

  24. First exposure was either the Just So stories or the Disney version of the Jungle Book, although it took me a long time to figure out that it was the same guy behind those two, and even longer to connect him to the adult novelist and poet.

    As for favorite, it would have to be “Recessional.” Not sure why, but something in it strikes a chord.

    “Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet.
    “Lest we forget, lest we forget.”

  25. I can’t say what was the first Kipling I read. We had multiple volumes by him on our shelves, each volume being several of his books bound together. I think we also had the Jungle Book, so I might have read it first, but I might have started with Plain Tales from the Hills or Departmental Ditties and Barrack-Room Ballads. At any rate, the first story in Plain Tales, “Lispeth,” left a lasting impression on me; so did a lot of his verse.

    I’ve never seen the animated Jungle Book; I knew what Disney had done to the Alice books, and I’d seen a couple of minutes of the clownish Bandar-Log scenes somewhere, and I didn’t want to see something I wouldn’t be able to unsee.

    Currently, I have the collected verse, the Just So Stories, the Jungle Books, Kim, and The Day’s Works, in which I have a lasting fondness for “The Maltese Cat,” the story of a polo match told from the viewpoint of the ponies.

    I’d find it hard to choose favorites, but of his verse, I find “The Hymn of Breaking Strain” compelling; it makes me think of Jubal Harshaw’s discussion of the Fallen Caryatid. Of his stories, “As Easy as A.B.C.,” which I read in the early sixties in Groff Conklin’s collection 17 x Infinity, had a lasting impact on my political outlook (I remember a science fiction convention where I quoted lines from its accompanying poem, “MacDonough’s Song,” to David Friedman after a panel, and he picked up with the next lines, leading up to “Holy State—or Holy King—or Holy People’s Will, Have no truck with the senseless thing. Order the guns and kill”). But I also love “A Church There Was at Antioch” and “The Miracle of Purun Bhagat”; I read the second of those aloud to C a year or so back and couldn’t get through the climactic scene without choking up.

    1. There seems to be something about the Mowgli stories that compells people adapting them to film to screw them up mightily. The only halfway decent adaptation is the ‘Mowgli’s Brothers’ short that Chuck Jones did, and it is weaker than either of the other two Jones shorts.

      I would love to see a JUNGLE BOOKS film that did ‘Letting in the Jungle’ or ‘The King’s ankus’ straight.


      1. *answering sigh*
        Me too.
        I reviewed the Disney Jungle Book, and the Disney Black Cauldron movies, commenting that those two (disparaging word redacted) were neck and neck for the title of “Movies Least Resembling Their Source Material.”

          1. Reviewed that one, too – which was almost a companion piece to Mary Poppins. And yes – on rare occasions – the movie does improve on the materiel. Not what experience generally leads one to expect of Disney, though.

            1. It’s hardly a problem confined to Disney. If you assume that any film based on a book will not be as good as the book, you won’t be wrong often. Disney did OK with their animated TARZAN (though VERY divergent from the books) but most other film adaptations are dreadful. Studio Ghibli drastically altered HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE, EARTHSEA, and THE BORROWERS. HOWL is a classic, EARTHSEA is fun on some levels but basically awful, and THE BORROWER ARRIETTY was so-so. And if Ghibli has that bad a record of staying true to the material, Hollywood (with it’s weird obsessions) has NO chance.

              1. I literally cannot connect the book for Howl’s and the movie in my mind.

                This is good, since the result is that I like them both.

    2. Maybe it’s not true to the source material, but the animated bander log is amazing in its own right. Especially if you look into how it was made.

    3. Here’s the thing: I’m willing to accept and even enjoy an adaptation that diverges from the source material if it’s an interesting take and not pushing a political message, and so long as it’s not the one and only adaptation possible.

      There’ve been some interesting takes on Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express in film, for instance, with one of them incorporating some very overt Catholic elements at the insistence of actor David Suchet, but I thought it made for an interesting and fraught conclusion, depicting Poirot’s internal struggle at the end.

  26. Disney’s “Jungle Book” was my first intro to Kipling and I loved it. Yeah, it could have been better, but it’s greatest virtue is that it introduced millions of children to Kipling and sent them looking for the real thing, the undiluted works, and that captured their hearts and imaginations!

    And as a side note, about 20+ years ago, David Drake edited a book entitled “A Separate Star”, a wonderful collection of short stories written by several known SF authors, after DD asked for them to each write something that reflected Kipling’s influence on their work. In the introduction, Drake admitted that he seldom reads aloud Kipling’s short story “Without Benefit of Clergy”, because it’s still not quite acceptable for a grown man to weep in public.

  27. Just walked over to re-read “IF” hanging in front of my late husband’s desk. Funny how hard it is to read through tears…

    1. Looks like the same one I stumbled on about twenty odd years ago. I printed out a page or two and memorized “The Gods of the Copybook Headings” (my classmates and I may have been one of the last to have actual copybooks like that, I think) back then.

      Its a good one to browse through for a random click and rediscover and old friend.

  28. And during the Obama years, I practically had “The Old Issue” and “A Servant When He Reigneth” on speed read.

  29. Really not sure any more *what* my very first exposure to “J. Rudyard Kipling” was, though books like “Just So Stories” and “The Light That Failed” have been in our family bookcases for time out of mind.

    Read one of those buy-it-at-school editions of “Captains Courageous” way back in elementary school, and remember little but the outlines of the book and that I liked it. (“A man of infinite resource and sagacity” though, which *If*IRC is from there, is one of those truly never-forget-it quotes.)

    Lots of familiar poems I’ve been collecting and reading at e.g., college debate society poetry nights for a *long* time, a few of them not even mentioned yet. Very Kipling-eque that most of them have wonderful tag-lines (much like the above) that identify them at once even if you don’t recall them by title…

    (Fair warning, the quotes or “quotes” above/below are all from memory)

    Et Dona Ferentes:
    “But oh, beware my Country, when my Country grows polite.”

    The Dutch in the Medway:
    “It’s only got by sword and shot / And this the Dutchmen know.”

    The Sons of Martha:
    “They do not preach that their God will rouse them,
    Just before the nuts work loose…”
    (A friend and on-again, off-again blogger keeps threatening to begin making nominations for her Order of the Sons of Martha, but she’s not done it yet.)

    McAndrew’s Hymn:
    “Lord, Thou hast made this world below
    The shadow of a dream
    And taught by Time, I take it so,
    Exceptin’ always Steam.”

    (Engineering as vocation, and more, a life story and philosophy in a poem)

    The Ballad of East and West:
    “If I had raised my hand
    As I have held it low…”
    (This was used by Niven and Pournelle as a strategy gimmick in a scene in “Lucifer’s Hammer” — which was why I didn’t mind stealing the same for a scene in that alternate-Civil-War steampunk story/series I’ve mentioned. *Assuming* of course Kipling had written it already… the 1860s don’t even have our familiar electrical engineering units yet!)

    “It’s Tommy this and Tommy that,
    And ‘Chuck ‘im out, the brute!’
    But it’s ‘This Red Line of ‘Eroes’
    When the guns begin to shoot”
    (Used, to immense effect, for the headline quote for David Drake’s “Redliners” which is even better in its anniversary edition with all the letters from Viet Nam vets it helped… hope a Baen plug here still fits.)

    Macdonough’s Song:
    “Holy State or Holy King or Holy People’s Will
    Have no truck with the senseless thing,
    Order the guns and kill…”
    (If you like this poem, do yourself a favor and read the story “As Easy As ABC” from which it comes — true 19th-C. libertarian science fiction. If you can get a copy with the “extra” fictional ads from the “As Easy As ABC” future world, so much the better.)

    And I’ll mention only a few more stories…

    “The Light That Failed”
    It is pretty good, but this may be the most un-Kipling-like book of all (IIRC though, it’s one of his first or literally his first). There’s a quote there too which turned out to be be irresistable to me for a vampire/zombie apocalypse story.
    (I leave it out here because, spoiler alert!)

    Stumbled over this story looking for a Kipling quote from a Poul Anderson story, “Women and horses and power and war” — never did find that, but the story (on the theme of inspiration being like radio) is well worth it. (And gave me encouragement to continue with the insane-sounding idea of a character who’s close to an organist composite of J. S. Bach and Kipling himself, too.)

    Writing pursued dilgently, or even reading, tends to become a conversation between past and future. Kipling is one of the best conversationalists ever.

    1. “As Easy as A.B.C.” has turned up on the Libertarian Futurist Society’s list of Hall of Fame nominees a number of times.

      The line “a man of infinite resource and sagacity” is actually from “How the Whale Got His Throat,” one of the Just So Stories.

      I’m a fan of “McAndrew’s Hymn,” but I actually find its companion piece, “The Mary Gloster,” more moving:

      “Dick, it’s your daddy, dying; you’ve got to listen to him.
      Good for a fortnight, am I? The doctor told you? He lied.
      I shall go under by morning, and—put that nurse outside.
      Never seen death, yet, Dickie? Well, now it’s your time to learn. . . .”

      The ruthless old man who did whatever it took to make money, including cheating his partner’s widow, and who’s going to pay off his mistress with a hundred pounds, and who holds his son in utter contempt, still is heartbreaking to read about, in his grief for the end of his enterprise and his line of descent.

  30. My first encounter with Kipling? Probably _The Jungle Book_. High school English Lit included “Danny Deever,” for reasons I have In college I was led to read Rikki-Tikki-Tavi for a very odd reason. Since then… oh, my.

    Just-So Stories, of course
    Ballad of East and West
    The Thousandth Man
    The Song of the Pack (aka ‘The Law of the Jungle’)
    Soldier an’ Sailor Too
    On the Road to Mandalay
    The Gods of the Copybook Headings
    The Destroyers

    One that every writer and aspiring writer ought to know by heart: “In the Neolithic Age”

    There are nine-and-sixty ways of constructing tribal lays
    And every single one of them is right!

    And one that makes my throat tighten, every time: “The Song of the Dead”

    We have fed our sea for a thousand years
    And she calls us, still unfed,
    Though there’s never a wave of all her waves
    But marks our English dead:
    We have strawed our best to the weed’s unrest
    To the shark and the sheering gull.
    If blood be the price of admiralty,
    Lord God, we ha’ paid in full!

  31. I think my first exposure was to some of the Just So stories, “How the Elephant got his Trunk” was my favorite, and “Rikki-Tiki-Tavi” in one or the other collection of children’s stories my parents owned. Then “The Jungle Book” at roughly the same age that the Disney version came out. “Recessional ” was in the church hymn book under a different title, drawn from the first line, which partly explains how I didn’t know it was Kipling for many years. “Captains Courageous” was in the house, although I don’t remember it so well. “Gunga Din” showed up in a high school literature course (First Poetry Quartet version) Then there is Leslie Fish’s rendition of “Female of the Species”. I encountered “Gods of the Copy Book Headings” and “Hymn to Breaking Strain” here. I like his work, but not quite enough to seek it all out.

        1. Sarcasm? Here? At According To Hoyt?

          I very much doubt that.

          Maybe at the musical site, Accordion Two Hoyt, but I very much doubt anybody here even knows the meaning of the word.

          I know that the few times I attempted to look it up all I found by way of definition was a picture of me, which while flattering was not especially enlightening.

        1. We are done with hope and glory,
          We are lost to love and truth.
          We are falling down the ladder
          Rung by rung…

  32. I only Kipple lightly. My first exposure was Disney’s Jungle Book before I was in grade school. My mother took me to a matinee at the theater downtown to watch a rerun of it. (It’s also where I saw Peter Pan, The Black Stallion, and several other children’s movies).

    One of our reading assignments in either 1st or 2nd Grade (I think it was first) was reading Rikki Tikki Tavi. This was the first time I remember associating Kipling to anything. Later my Dad sat me down to watch Kim (and followed up with The Charge of the Light Brigade). I didn’t read Captain’s Courageous until a couple of years ago. Woe to my junior high/high school English teachers if I ever run into them. CC should have been required reading in school instead of Moby Dick.

    I read parts of Just So Stories to my daughter when she was really small. I’m pretty sure I got more out of them than she did.

  33. My first encounter with Kipling predates memory.  As far as I knew there had always been Kipling.  I particularly remember a lovely hard back volume of the Just So Stories.  The paper was heavy, ivory with the slightest texture, and it had gorgeous illustrations. Just looking through the book was a sensory delight, and then, oh then, there was the stories themselves. The whole of it was an enticing delight.

    While I recall quite a number of the illustrations, I particularly recall the one for The Cat Who Walked by Himself and thinking — I wish I could do that.

    1. Similar. It was just there like fireflies in summertime and woodsmoke in winter. We sang while we worked sometimes, and others there were stories- or Kipling. I think the Jungle Book was told to me that way while snapping beans and canning one fall.

  34. The Balad of east and west was my first Kipple, followed by Iron cold iron. But where he really got me was his works on Submarines, spy ships, and destroyers. Submarines. the balad of Clamperdown, Hymn before action, North sea patrol, the destroyers, and The trade.

  35. “And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
    But we’ve proved it again and again,
    That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
    You never get rid of the Dane.”

    For those tasked with collecting and delivering the Danegeld, this is recognized as a viable business model, such that if ever there is no Dane they will recruit one.

    1. “…such that if ever there is no Dane they will recruit one.”
      Can we get that on a bumper sticker, please?
      I was reading several news stories today that exemplified that maxim precisely.

  36. Can’t rightly recall my first exposure, to be honest. It’s been ’round from the first.

    Military family, so there’s that. Had a few, “If” for one, on the wall growing up. Only started memorizing ’em just to see if I could in my twenties. Gods of the Copybook Headings was a good start. Then I went to working on memorizing plays with all the stage calls, for foolishness of course.

    Grave of the Hundred Head tickled a story, the oncet (where it is now, Himself only knows). City of Brass was on the mind during the Clinton years, as I recall.

    Have to give it a think. First was probably either a funeral or sung in the car when I was a little ‘un.

  37. I’ve appreciated a number of Kipling’s poems and stories over the years, but I was most totally affected at a much too early age by reading “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep.”
    We found a lovely illustrated set of “Just So Stories” which we read to our kids interminably, until one year our original copy went wandering away from the schoolroom to which it had been loaned.
    A few years ago we were able to find copies for all of them on the internet.
    I have sometimes wondered if the neo-literary insistence on lack of rhyme and rhythm in poetry was especially developed to prevent teachers assigning Kipling in the schools.

    1. “What are kippers?”

      I would like to continue with Edible Fish for $100, Alex.

      A kipper is a whole herring, a small, oily fish, that has been split in a butterfly fashion from tail to head along the dorsal ridge, gutted, salted or pickled, and cold-smoked over smouldering woodchips.

      1. Well, first you’d have to know the word “kipper”, and that it wasn’t another meaning for “person who takes a nap.” Not a meaning for the word I’d ever come across.

        I know the word “herring” from Monty Python, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen one, and probably wouldn’t recognize one from looking into its empty body cavity anyway.

        1. ‘Ere we find the value of a deep background in musical theatre …

          There are so many things to remember
          As you travel the highway of life,
          Like always be kind to your husband
          Or, if you’re a man, to your wife.

          You must never shoot trout in September.
          You must never feed babies on gin.
          Don’t ever play poker on Sundays
          Unless you are certain to win! Ha ha.


          Don’t drink champagne from soggy old slippers
          Though this barbaric custom is rife.
          Don’t lift up a whale by its flippers
          And only buy claret from certified shippers,
          Avoid eating goulash with ice cream and kippers.
          Remember these things, you obnoxious young nippers,
          And you will do well all your life.

      1. I just figured it was a KippleFish reference.

        For those who haven’t run across that before, there is a rather well known filk singer named Leslie Fish. In addition to her own songs, such as “Banned from Argo” and several dozen bastards spawned from it, “Hope Eyrie” (The Eagle Has Landed) and literally a thousand others, she has released several CDs worth of Kipling poetry set to her own tunes. You can find them on YouTube; they used to be available from Random Factors, but apparently no longer…. or you could pop over to her Facebook page and ask her.
        Our Father’s of Old and Cold Iron are all Kipling.

  38. If you’re not stealing from Kipling, you’re building with substandard materials.

    And if your fantasy races and aliens are less exotic than societies he sketches out in short stories, you’ve got work to do.

    1. Assignment for Trope-ologists:
      Is there, in any decent* SF or Fantasty work, any significant social problem or character not addressed by Kipling in some way?

      *”decent” means not PC / SJW infected; and, even then, they are probably the obverse of a Kipling Trope, being the negative instantiation of his positive traits.

    2. And he would have expected you to:

      When ‘Omer smote ‘is bloomin’ lyre,
      He’d ‘eard men sing by land an’ sea;
      An’ what he thought ‘e might require,
      ‘E went an’ took — the same as me!

      The market-girls an’ fishermen,
      The shepherds an’ the sailors, too,
      They ‘eard old songs turn up again,
      But kep’ it quiet — same as you!

      They knew ‘e stole; ‘e knew they knowed.
      They didn’t tell, nor make a fuss,
      But winked at ‘Omer down the road,
      An’ ‘e winked back — the same as us!

    3. “If you’re not stealing from Kipling, you’re building with substandard materials. ”

      No, no, no. It’s borrowing from Kipling you should be doing. Not stealing. But please always remember to call it “research.”

  39. Someone above mentioned Kipling and Cub Scouts, his Jungle Book being the source of the cub “lore” and organization.
    I wonder when the SJWs will denounce what remains of the Boy Scout organization for that connection to a most un-Woke Imperialist?
    Perhaps they just don’t recognize the connection.
    This verse, IMO, states succinctly the relationship of individuals and society: none can flourish (or even exist) without the other – but it is neither pure anarchy nor pure socialism.

    Now this is the Law of the Jungle — as old and as true as the sky;
    And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.

    As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk, the Law runneth forward and back —

    For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.

  40. I came to Kipling through SF and RAH.

    It’s called “The Children’s Song”, I believe a better title is “The Children’s Prayer”
    If I had my way after the Pledge all students would recite

    The Children’s Song
    Puck of Pook’s Hills

    Land of our Birth, we pledge to thee
    Our love and toil in the years to be;
    When we are grown and take our place
    As men and women with our race.

    Father in Heaven who lovest all,
    Oh, help Thy children when they call;
    That they may build from age to age
    An undefiled heritage.

    Teach us to bear the yoke in youth,
    With steadfastness and careful truth;
    That, in our time, Thy Grace may give
    The Truth whereby the Nations live.

    Teach us to rule ourselves alway,
    Controlled and cleanly night and day;
    That we may bring, if need arise,
    No maimed or worthless sacrifice.

    Teach us to look in all our ends
    On Thee for judge, and not our friends;
    That we, with Thee, may walk uncowed
    By fear or favour of the crowd.

    Teach us the Strength that cannot seek,
    By deed or thought, to hurt the weak;
    That, under Thee, we may possess
    Man’s strength to comfort man’s distress.

    Teach us Delight in simple things,
    And Mirth that has no bitter springs;
    Forgiveness free of evil done,
    And Love to all men ‘neath the sun!

    Land of our Birth, our faith, our pride,
    For whose dear sake our fathers died;
    Oh, Motherland, we pledge to thee
    Head, heart and hand through the years to be!

    Wouldn’t the SJWs just have a cow!

  41. As others have said, I can’t recall my first Kipling; it was always there. I’m also in the group that read Kim once a year or so. I have too many favorites to list, so I’m going to share an old joke I can’t often use, since so few people understand the reference.
    There’s a single railroad track running between two towns, just one line. One night, a train starts from one end; its engineer is Norwegian. At the same time, a train sets out from the other end; its engineer is drunk. Although they’re are headed right at each other, they don’t crash. Why not?
    Because Norse is Norse and souse is souse and never the trains shall meet.

  42. I believe my dad introduced me to Kipling with the poem “If”. I admit to having skimmed many works but never having delved as deeply as most here. That doesn’t mean I haven’t appreciated his impact, especially as it crosses so counter to the prevailing winds of today.

    I perhaps came to better appreciate him after reading “Heresy” by G.K. Chesterton, in which Chesterton takes Kipling to task for the weakness of his love for England, and his lack of understanding of what it means to love England.

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