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THE "INKY GAMIN" AND THE "EGOTISTICAL TONGUE": VIEWING KIPLING THE PERSON AND THE POET THROUGH AN UNPUBLISHED POEM By Nora Foster Stovel (University of Alberta) One appropriate way to reevaluate Kipüng in this fiftieth anniversary of his death is to examine a previously unpubUshed work. An autograph manuscript, signed "R. Kipling," dated "Dec. 25, 1888," and beginning, "Peace upon Earth to people of good will," was presented by Kipling as a Christmas gift to his friends and hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Alexander Hill in AUahabad, India.1 Mrs. Hill wrote an undated and unpublished commentary on the poem, entitled "Concerning the Christmas Poem given by Rudyard Kipling to Mr. & Mrs. S. A. Hill." She testifies to the authenticity of the manuscript, explains the circumstances of its composition, and comments, "The poem being so local and personal has never been published."2 This poem, composed of seventeen quatrains, is therefore particularly significant, because its humorous and penetrating portrait of the poet illuminates KipUng's peculiar personality, and its occasional nature iUustrates his talent for transforming topical experience into vivid verse. "Peace upon Earth to people of good will," So runs the song of eighteen hundred years, Caught by the drowsy shepherds on the hiU From Regents of the Spheres. (Stanza 1) Now we have lost the Babe among the straw That men, too wise, thresh out of Death and Birth, But year by year the old, sweet changeless Law Rings downward to the Earth. (2) Wherefore so long as mortal life endures To that Beyond we doubt and dream of still "Peace upon Earth and aU good wiU" be yours O Household of good wiU! (3) And none the less because so near to youth The hand that faiïs your merits in confessing And none the less because so far from truth The heart that shapes the blessing. (4) Against the petty round of wearing strife You gave me refuge, very dear and new— The tender courtesies of daily Ufe, Unwavering, sweet and true. (5) Foregoing much you opened wide your doors And made me welcome past all worth or right— An inky gamin doing inky cnores And—doing 'em at night! (6) 140 You heard the egotistic tongue that jumped From babbling joy to beer-begotten gloom, Nor shuddered when cheroot in hand I stumped Your dainty drawing-room. (7) Do I write jestingly? Believe me no— Between the lines a deeper meaning lies Than shamefaced verse or best Blue Black can show Or hand anatomize. (8) Help, comfort, sympathy and kindness Ue Beyond all scribbüng, though I set apart A thirty page edition of the Pi And filled it-from my heart. (9) I thank you for I hold you very dearScience and Housewifry who made me guest And more than guest for half a happy year— And veil my thanks in jest. (10) Behold! the Stranger in your gates calls down A mighty blessing—yea a note of credit Available in every sea and town As you and yours shall tread it! (11) AU good encompass you from East to West, Till East again becomes the West Extreme What time you take your giant pleasure-quest To lands whereof I dream. (12) For you shall China's wave know softer mood, And Yeddo yield her choicest broideries And Halcyons, hastening from their haunts shall brood O'er north Pacific Seas. (13) Most rare medicaments on every breeze Shall steal beneath the awnings for your sake, TUl tortured temples find unbroken ease And burning orows forget the way to ache. (14) Rangoon shall strew its rubies at your feet The skies shall yield uncharted constellations And gentle earthquakes in Japan shall meet Your rage for observations. (15) No plate of all the gross shall fog or blur, Your trunks shall 'scape unclean douane-darogaks Though gems and neckties, curios and fur Shall cram your Saratogas. (16) So shall you fare while happy omens bless By land and sea, thrice proof against aU harms:-141 TillAlex finds himself an FJA.S., And Ted her Father's arms. (17) R. Kipling Dec. 25,1888. Kipling composed this poem as a token of his appreciation for the HiUs's...


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pp. 140-147
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