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The Veterans Analysis

Author: Poetry of Rudyard Kipling Type: Poetry Views: 391

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To-day, across our fathers' graves,
The astonishedyears reveal
The remnant of that desperate host
Which cleansed our East with steel.

Hail and farewell! We greet you here,
With tears that none will scorn--
O Keepers of the House of old,
Or ever we were born!

One service more we dare to ask--
Pray for us, heroes, pray,
That when Fate lays on us our task
We do not shame the Day!


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: Veterans - Kipling :.

Written in 1907 on the occasion of 50th Anniversary 'celebration' of the Indian 'Mutiny'. Read by Kipling at the Albert Hall gathering of Mutiny veterans on 23rd December.

Most of the poem reads, to a sophisticated, modern audience, like jingoistic doggerel, but the last line is magnificent.

Kipling implies that there is not only a gap in time but in human quality between the 'heroes' of the past and we, who can merely contemplate their deeds with astonishment, incapable of matching them. It should be remembered that he was addressing real men and women (the latter members of the beseiged Lucknow garrison)who had actually been the 'desperate host'. Most of these were at least 70 years old, though a couple had actually been born at Lucknow during the Siege, so that a degree of nostalgia is understandable, and perhaps permissible. They would never gather together again.

Fashionable, modern taste may reject the 'imperialistic' - 'cleansed our East with steel'- and racial -'Keepers of the house of Old'- implications of the poem. Certainly the enlightened guardians of 'politically correct' orthodoxy will NOT allow us to shed an unscorned tear for those who performed their duty as they saw it.

However, we all at some moment must evoke, as Kipling does here, the 'secret power' of all the hosts who have gone before us, in order to face our own 'Day', without shaming ourselves or them.


| Posted on 2006-01-16 | by Approved Guest

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