"Akbar's Bridge"


(notes by
John McGivering

the poem


First published with “The Debt” in Limits and Renewals (1932) and collected in Inclusive Verse (1933), Definitive Verse, The Works of Rudyard Kipling (Wordsworth Poetry Library), the Sussex Edition volume 11 page 209, and volume 34 page 414, and the Cambridge Edition (Ed. Pinney) p. 1040.

Kipling’s special use of Muslim literature and history is illustrated by several poems and stories ... there are many references to Moghul emperors, in particular “Akbar’s Bridge ... and “The Emir’s Homily” … are ready examples. [Shamsul Islam, Kipling’s “Law” – A study of his philosophy of life, Macmillan, 1975, page 34]

See also the Headnote.

Notes on the text

[Verse 1]

Jelaludin Muhammed Akbar 'Regarded as the greatest of the Great Moghuls ( he) came closest to forging a single nation of Hindustan during his reign (1556-1605)'. [Archie Baron, An Indian Affair, Pan Macmillan, 2001, page 17.]

'McIntosh Jellaludin' (with a slightly different spelling) is the somewhat unlikely name of the ‘anti-hero’ of “To be Filed for Reference” (Plain Tales from the Hills) See also the notes to “ Letters of Marque” (From Sea to Sea), Chapter XII, page 115, lines 21 & 22 and Chapter V.

[Verse 5]

the widow of the potter a low-caste woman – see “Tiger! Tiger!” in The Jumgle Book page 96, lines 4/5.

[Verse 6]

scow a flat-bottomed boat.

[Verse 13]

build the hag her bridge The bridge over the Gomti River in Jaunpur dates from 1564, the era of the Emperor Akbar.

[J McG]

©John McGivering 2020 All rights reserved