(One of Kipling’s gifts, it seems to me, is his enormous sympathy with childhood. He re-imagines it. Reading his children’s stories - or having them read aloud to you - The Just-So Stories, The Jungle Book, Puck of Pook’s Hill and Rewards and Fairies, Stalky & Co., you can hear how each of them are pitched for a different ear. The Just-So Stories are clearly aimed at four to six, Puck of Pook’s Hill and Rewards and Fairies aimed at a slightly older audience, say seven to ten. But he’s never condescending.)
Kipling docks in
Kipling was always full of industry, and his energies never deserted him, even if age slowed him down a little in the last five or so years of his life, but nothing matches the fever of that time in India. Both the Gazette and its sister publication, the Pioneer in Allahabad, were dailies, and he refers to the newspaper work as Seven Years’ Hard. He clearly wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything else.
Try as he will, no man breaks wholly loose
From his first love, no matter who she be.
Oh, was there ever sailor free to choose,
That didn’t settle somewhere near the sea?
The cities are full of pride,
Challenging each to each –
And she shall touch and remit
After the use of kings
(Orderly, ancient, fit)
My deep-sea plunderings.