Rudyard Kipling: An Anthology Hardcover – 1 Sep 1992
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Part of a series of leather-bound volumes featuring the works of great writers, this Kipling omnibus includes "The Jungle Book", "The Second Jungle Book", "Just So Stories", "Puck of Pook's Hill" and "Stalky and Co". --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Overall, it is a good, wide-ranging collection of poetry covering an extended time period. The collection is recommended for all age groups, although some poems might have to be explained to children. The poems were written at a different time in history, and readers should be aware that some of them may express prejudices and language of that period ("for she knifed me one night, 'cause I wished she was white, and I learned about women from 'er," from "The Ladies")
I side with the latter.
I've liked Kipling years back. He writes poetry as easily as he does his stories, with wit, snappy soundbites, and both the ability to make you laugh and cry.
Famous for his writings of the soldiers, for his fairy tales, he isn't much in demand these days, except maybe recommended for children, which is rather a shame, because he wrote many interesting works, be it in verse or novel.
Those who call him racist had probably not read past the first few lines. Even in more blatant works like "Gunga Din" or "Fuzzy Wuzzy", he writes with a certain respect for the natives. And even in his colonialist days he was more of its critic than its trumpet. Such an attitude is obvious in more obscure works like "We and They", or "Hadramauti", where an Arab voices his dislike for the Englishmen.
Also there are his historical pieces, like "the Dutch in the medway", describing the humiliating defeat of the British at sea, and "the Roman centurian's son", a very poignant piece about an Roman soldier being called back to Rome after decades in Britan. More whimsical and lively pieces (as well as the satire he was known for), like "The way through the woods", "Pagett, MP", his pieces for chapter headings, as well as inspiration poems like "If -".
Darker works like "the Storm come" shows that he is no warmonger; his "Recessional" predicts the dissolution of the empire which he nearly outlived, and his lament for his son in "the Children" is both moving and tragic.
I suppose there's not much to be said -the poetry is loud enough on its own, and I hope my cruddy penmanship doesn't affect your view on Kipling -or deter your from reading his works.
Some reviewers have criticized the organization of Complete Verse. The table of contents lists all 500 or so poems in alphabetical order, and the editor provides an index of first lines. What the reader does not get is a scholar's interpretation of Kipling's prose. Although sometimes I enjoy reading another's perspective on the author's intentions, why bias my own experience with the thoughts of another critic? Much better to walk the fields of verse on a virgin path, experiencing Kipling through my own mind.
A great compilation of poetry from a splendid author. Bravo!
However, these shortcomings do not detract from Kipling's poetry, which can be quite moving.