Rants and Raves

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Monday, January 08, 2007

A place to kipple

Those who read an early post of mine here http://rantsand.blogspot.com/2006/08/have-you-ever-kippled.html
know I'm a Rudyard Kipling fan.

Recently I found this web site http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/kipling_ind.html
where the Complete Kipling Verse is online, all poems listed in alphabetical order. I can't seem to find certain lines I remember and am trying to place using their search engine, but it's nice to have this available when my hard copy is in my apartment in Warsaw.

I also found a poem new to me browsing the titles. I've never attempted to work my way through the whole verse systematically, that way I'll have the pleasure of discovering previously overlooked treasure for years to come.

Check out 'The Dove of Dacca', right before 'The Dutch in the Medway', an old favorite of mine.

The poem tells the story of a Hindu king of Dacca who goes off to battle against Moslem invaders. He takes a homing dove with him and tells his queens, "If she return, be sure that I fall."

He wins the battle - but on the return home the dove escapes and flys home. The imagery evoked by the lines is pure Kipling,

The freed dove flew to the Rajah's tower --
Fled from the slaughter of Moslem kings --
And the thorns have covered the city of Gaur,
Dove -- dove -- oh, homing dove!
Little white traitor, with woe on thy wings!

And the queens believing the day is lost, immolate themselves in the city.

The Queens of Dacca they slept in flame
Slept in the flame of the palace old --
To save their honour from Moslem shame.
And the dove -- the dove -- oh, the homing dove,
She cooed to her young where the smoke-cloud rolled!

The poem ends,

So the dove flew to the Rajah's tower --
Fled from the slaughter of Moslem kings;
So the thorns covered the city of Gaur,
And Dacca was lost for a white dove's wings.
Dove -- dove -- oh, homing dove,
Dacca is lost from the Roll of the Kings!

Fate, death and disaster coming on the wings of the most innocent symbol of love, gentleness and divine grace. Good stuff!


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