[January 27th 2017]
First published in the The Pall Mall Gazette, July 27th 1894, under the title "As it strikes a contemporary". ORG No. 608.
This poem has been largely ignored by the critics. Andrew Lycett (p. 267) comments on Kipling's inability to settle happily in America and how he was beginning to feel comfortable in England:
...to show what he was rejecting he wrote the execrable poem "An American" for the Pall Mall Gazette (ironically owned by a rich American, William Waldorf Astor) . In this he contrasted the indomitable Yankee spirit with the new unthinking breed of American, with an energySee also "An Error in the Fourth Dimension", published in December 1894....that bids him flout the Law he makes
Philip Holberton points out that the metre and the first two verses carry echoes of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem “Brahma”:
If the red slayer think he slays,
Avatar the manifestation of a Hindu deity in bodily form. See The Incarnation of Krishna Mulvaney
Celt a person of Irish, Scottish, Welsh, or Cornish descent, from the Celtic peoples who pre-dominated in the British Isles before the Anglo-Saxon invasions of the 5th century AD, and the later Danish and Norman invasions.
Gaul an ancient region of Europe roughly comprising modern-day France, and the Low Countries.
Redskin a slang and offensive term for Native Americans not now used
Labrador a coastal region of Canada. Perhaps signifying the whole continent of North America
Guadeloupe A group of French-governed islands in the Caribbean.
stoop a verandah (Afrikaans)
slough of his despond an echo of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. The marsh of despair is an obstacle in Christian's journey. See the "The Holy War."
©John McGivering 2017 All rights reserved