Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Poetry Study - Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling was an English poet, novelist, and short-story writer remembered mostly for his celebration of British imperialism, poems, and tales of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. He received the 1907 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Kipling was born in Bombay and was taken by his family to England when he was five years old.

Kipling is best known for his works of fiction, including The Jungle Book (a collection of stories which includes "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi"), Just So Stories, many short stories, including The Man Who Would Be King; and his poems, including Mandalay and Gunga Din.

Below are six poems that I read to Sophia and Olivia. Their thoughts about what they heard follow each poem.

Sophia said she did Rudyard Kipling as a poet, even though she wasn't terribly excited about the poems/excerpts from Just So Stories. Olivia thought Kipling was okay...he wasn't the worst poet she's heard, but not the favorite one either.

Out of all the poems/excerpts I've read to the girls, these have elicited the briefest reactions. They also reflect more confusion and ambivalence than the girls have expressed with other poets and poems. I don't see us reading much poetry or short stories from Rudyard Kipling in the future.


How the Whale Got His Throat 
(From Just So Stories)

When the cabin port-holes are dark and green
Because of the seas outside
When the ship goes wop (with a wiggle between)
And steward falls into the soup-tureen,
And trunks begin to slide;
When Nursey lies on the floor in a heap,
And Mummy tells you to let her sleep,
And you aren't waked or washed or dressed,
Why, then you will know (if you haven't guessed)
You're "Fifty North and Forty West!"

Sophia thought: He could rhyme stuff...and that's about it.

Olivia thought: It didn't make any sense. I didn't understand it.


How the Camel Got His Hump 
(From Just So Stories)

The Camel's hump is an ugly lump
Which well you may see at the Zoo;
But uglier yet is the hump we get
From having too little to do.
Kiddies and grown-ups too-oo-oo,
If we haven't enough to do-oo-oo,
We get the hump--
Cameelious hump--
The hump that is black and blue!
We climb out of bed with a frouzly head,
And a snarly-yarly voice.
We shiver and scowl and we grunt and we growl
At our bath and our boots and our toys;
And there ought to be a corner for me
(And I know' there is one for you)
When we get the hump--
Cameelious hump--
The hump that is black and blue!
The cure for this ill is not to sit still,
Or frowst with a book by the fire;
But to take a large hoe and a shovel also,
And dig till you gently perspire;
And then you will find that the sun and the wind.
And the Djinn of the Garden too,
Have lifted the hump--
The horrible hump--
The hump that is black and blue!
I get it as well as you-oo-oo--
If I haven't enough to do-oo-oo!
We all get hump--
Cameelious hump--
Kiddies and grown-ups too!

Sophia thought: That's not the whole story [from Just So Stories]. I followed this one a bit better than the whale one. This poem was okay, but I like other poems by other poets better. Out of all the poems by Rudyard Kipling, though, I liked this one the best.

Olivia thought: I don't think he should have done the you-oo-oo and do-oo-oo parts because it doesn't sound good. The beginning made more sense to me.


Blue Roses

Roses red and roses white
Plucked I for my love's delight.
She would none of all my posies--
Bade me gather her blue roses.

Half the world I wandered through,
Seeking where such flowers grew.
Half the world unto my quest
Answered me with laugh and jest.

Home I came at wintertide,
But my silly love had died,
Seeking with her latest breath
Roses from the arms of Death.

It may be beyond the grave
She shall find what she would have.
Mine was but an idle quest--
Roses white and red are best!

Sophia thought: It was depressing because she died. I prefer other happier poems. She also was trying to get rid of him by sending him out to look for blue roses that don't exist.

Olivia thought: I think it was kind of weird. It had roses and death; and that didn't really go together.  I don't think there are such things as blue roses. Wait...can I look that up? [She looked them up on the internet.] Blue roses are real roses but aren't really blue. They are white roses that are dyed blue. Out of all the poems by Rudyard Kipling, I liked this one the best.


The Friends

I had some friends--but I dreamed that they were dead--
Who used to dance with lanterns round a little boy in bed;
Green and white lanterns that waved to and fro:
But I haven't seen a Firefly since ever so long ago!

I had some friends--their crowns were in the sky--
Who used to nod and whisper when a little boy went by,
As the nuts began to tumble and the breeze began to blow:
And I haven't seen a Cocoa-palm since ever so long ago!

I had a friend--he came up from Cape Horn,
With a Coal-sack on his shoulder when a little boy was born.
He heard me learn to talk, and he helped me thrive and grow:
But I haven't seen the Southern Cross since ever so long ago!

I had a boat--I out and let her drive,
Till I found my dream was foolish, for my friends were all alive.
The Cocoa-palms were real, and the Southern Cross was true:
And the Fireflies were dancing--so I danced too!

Sophia thought: It was a bit confusing; and the first sentence was a bit alarming. Something that stood out were the people dancing around a boy's bed. 

Olivia thought: I liked it, but thought it was confusing towards the end. I thought the first part was kind of funny. 


What and Why and When And How and Where and Who

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views;
I know a person small--
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!
She sends 'em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes--
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!

Sophia thought: It was pretty interesting. It was kind of sad that the guys who worked for the woman didn't get any rest.

Olivia thought: I thought it was kind of confusing. It didn't really make any sense. 


How the Leopard Got His Spots 
(From Just So Stories)

I am the Most Wise Baviaan, saying in Most wice tones,
"Let us melt into the landscape--just us two by our lones."
People have come--in a carriage--calling. But Mumy is there . . .
Yes, I can go if you take me--Nurse says she don't care.
Let's go up to the pig-styes and sit on the farmyard rails!
Let's say things to the bunnies, and watch 'em skitter their tails!
Let's'-oh, anything, daddy, so long as it's you and me,
And going truly exploring, and not being in till tea!
Here's your boots (I've brought 'em), and here's your cap and stick,
And here's your pipe and tobacco. Oh, come along out of it--quick!

Sophia thought: It's a cute little poem. It isn't something you would normally hear from other poets. They do stories about animals and people and love. I kind of liked it.

Olivia thought: I don't really like it because it didn't make any sense to me. But...I liked the part where the bunnies skittered their tails. 


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