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4.0 out of 5 stars Old and New Poems by Kipling, 4 Feb. 2014
Robin Friedman (Washington, D.C. United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 100 Poems: Old and New (Hardcover)
Rudyard Kipling's poetry continues to be read widely and to be controversial. Kipling (1865 -- 1936) wrote a great deal over his long life, and creating a collected edition of his poetry has been a formidable task. In 2013, Kipling scholar Thomas Finney published a three-volume edition of Kipling's complete poetry which includes over 2400 pages and is likely to be the definitive text for scholars. The Cambridge Edition of the Poems of Rudyard Kipling 3 Volume Hardback Set In the course of his painstaking work, Finney found many poems of Kipling that had never before been published or that had been published only in obscure newspapers and magazines and never collected. Finney wanted to make a selection of this hitherto unknown poetry available to readers who might not explore the full three-volume collection. Thus, he published this short volume "100 Poems Old and New". The book is a small well-produced hardbound volume with a brief introduction by Finney. He tells the reader he combined 74 of the new poems with 26 of Kipling's published poems that are likely to be familiar to admirers of the poet. Finney wanted to give readers something of the "old" and the "new" Kipling to deepen their understanding of the poet.

I had some familiarity with Kipling, but as I read the volume I couldn't entirely distinguish between the old and the new. Finney might have expected less of his readers and separated the 26 poems from the new finds. I became curious and tried to examine the tables of contents and indexes of two readily available anthologies of Kipling to determine what was familiar and what wasn't. I used the inexpensive paperback Dover edition which includes about 45 poems Gunga Din and Other Favorite Poems (Dover Thrift Editions) and the longer anthology published by Everyman, Kipling: Poems (Everyman's Library Pocket Poets). I was thus able to identify 21 of the "famous" poems, but not the entire 26. I list the 21 famous poems I could identify in this volume below.

Danny Deever
Gunga Din
In the Neolithic Age
The Law of the Jungle
When 'Omer Smote his Bloomin Lyre
The White Man's Burden
Merrow Down
Cities and Thrones and Powers
Harp Song of the Dane Women
A Song to Mithras
The Baths of Biddlestone
The Way through the Woods
The Female of the Species
Jobson's Amen
My Boy Jack
The Gods of the Copybook Headings
London Stone
Ah,would Swift Ships never been about the Sea to Rove

The remaining poems (beyond the five I couldn't identify) will likely be unfamiliar to virtually every reader of Kipling.

The poems are arranged chronologically, beginning with "How it Seemed to Us" written in 1882 and concluding with "The Cold! --Heap on the Logs and Let's Get Tight!" a poem in four lines from 1935. This latter poem, a "new" work has a delightful sensual touch for a work written late in life. It may serve as a sample of the discovered works in this volume.

"'Tis cold! Heap on the logs -- and lets get tight!
The Gods can run this world for just one night.
I will enjoy myself and be no scorner
Of any nice girl giggling in a corner."

There are no annotations or notes provided in the volume. Some of the early poems in particular make heavy use of dialect and of references that are likely to be unfamiliar. Editorial notes might have been appropriate.

The volume shows Kipling's broad range as a poet and his development over time. He is known as a poet of action, war and empire. Kipling also shows a high sense of irony and a deepening sense of introspection. His poems of in the years of WW I show an increasing awareness of the futility and tragedy of war. For all his conservatism and commitment to the British Empire, many of Kipling's poems show a great awareness of the dangers of chauvinism and a realization of how much there is to be learned from other people and cultures. The poems are generally rhymed and rhythmical. Although the writing of poetry changed markedly during Kipling's life, his forms remained traditional rather than modernistic.

In most instances, a poet's work left in manuscript or published in ephemeral publications was left uncollected for a reason. The new poems Finney included help show his range as a poet, and many of them reward reading. As Finney indicates, however, some of these new poems are slight. When the volume is read through without regard to the source of the poems, it is of mixed quality. This of course is not to detract from Finney's scholarship or from his meticulous preservation of these poems in the complete edition. But the reader should be aware that some of these poems are not among Kipling's best.

In other words, it depends what the reader is looking for in assessing this volume. Readers wanting an anthology of Kipling's best poems might better be served with the Everyman collection. Readers who love Kipling and know his familiar works would be more interested in this volume with its short selection of famous poems and its inclusion of many newly discovered poems. Readers who want a compromise -- a selection of some of the standard works plus many new discoveries -- will also like this book. In any event, this book, the large three volume edition are clearly labors of love and scholarship. The books will keep Kipling alive. This selection of 100 Kipling poems "old and new" will be valuable to those wishing to learn about Kipling.

Robin Friedman
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fill your cup with Kipling, 4 Mar. 2014
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 100 Poems: Old and New (Hardcover)
This is a collection of some of the popular poems and many that were in local papers that never made it to the mainstream.

There are some jewels but we also find a clinker or two. Each reader will find his/her favorite.

No illustrations. Selected and edited by Thomas Pinney. A good table of contents, and an index by poem.

There is also an index of first lines as “You may talk o’ gin and beer”. Too bad it was not last lines as “You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!”

It is worth investing in stilly notes for you favorite passages. Read again in ten years to see if you taste differs.
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100 Poems: Old and New
100 Poems: Old and New by Rudyard Kipling (Hardcover - 3 Oct. 2013)
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