(notes by John McGivering)
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,Ann Weygandt points out (p. 148):
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door...
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'
The rhyme scheme lacks any phrase exactly corresponding to "Nevermore", and carries out the triple rhyme - leonine (internal rhyme) and end-rhyme both - in the first two lines: it occurs only in the second stanza of the original.Background
... he sought for metres that would suit him, often recklessly giving way to his predeliction for rhyme, including internal rhyme,, which even in his later years sometimes tended to be a little intrusive ...Sometimes the metre is too lilting…Dobrée (p. 211) then quotes the opening of this poem as an example.
The journey to Simla was an arduous one once you left Kalka in the plains and started the hill ascent by the Cart Road to your destination at 2,397 metres (7,866 feet) above sea level. This was originally called the ‘Great Hindostan-Thibet Road’ and work began on it in 1850 under the supervision of Major Kennedy. Horse drawn tongas owned by a Mrs Lumley (who also owned hotels in both Kalka and Simla) soon replaced bullock carts as a means of getting up to Simla.
a two-wheeled car drawn by two ponies curricle fashion, used for travelling in the hills. .
The bar, commonly called the 'swingle-tree' in England, may have only been used in fancier passenger versions. In such a harness, the traces from either side of the horse's collar or breast strap ran back to the ends of the swingle-tree/tonga bar which was fixed by a pivot at the centre to a beam at the front of the vehicle.As Yan Shapiro points out, the crime writer Mark Channing, in India Mosaic (1936), found the sound more sinister:
The connection of traces to bar (and sometimes the pivot) consisted of a number of linked rings, generally three or five, which allowed plenty of free movement. These links jingle - still heard today in the characteristic sound of the Royal Horse Artillery gun teams when on parade.
The insistent clang-clang-clang-clang of that jolting tonga-bar seemed like an infinitely far-away recollection of a nightmare...Kipling himself wrote a vivid account (published in the CMG on July 13th 1886) of a journey by tonga from Umballa up to Simla, in the rains, which reduced the mountain road to a dangerous torrent. He was not complimentary about travel by tonga:
In addition to the vices of the dak gharri (another type of hired carriage), it has the violent sifting motion of the winnower of a threshing machine. Imagine a sick lady being violently shaken for eight hours with two minute breaks at half hour intervals. This is the treatment she must go through ere reaching Simla. We all know it, and we all put up with it, because we are a slack, limp, go-as-you—please, for-heaven’s-sake-don’t-make-a-fuss-about-it people; and it is good for us to be told this again and again. [collected in Kipling Abroad by Andrew Lycett, I.B.Tauris 2010][Verse 2]