Notes on the text
These notes, by John McGivering, are partly new, and partly based on the ORG. We are grateful to Alastair Wilson for various comments and suggestions. The page and, line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of A Diversity of Creatures, as published and frequently reprinted between 1917 and 1950.
If any question why we diedDavid Gilmour (page 252) draws our attention to these lines, observing that if Britain, as Theodore Roosevelt had told Kipling...
Tell them, because our fathers lied.
... had built up its Army to something approaching Continental levels there might have been no (1914) war. Yet an increase in the size of the Army, however desirable it might have been, was a political impossibility during the Edwardian years - for the Unionists as well as for the Liberals. A more coherent policy, however, a more definite political attitude in the summer of 1914, might have averted the conflict.[The same might, of course, also be said of the 1930s Ed.)
“The Honours of War” and “The Edge of the Evening” (A Diversity of Creatures) both written in the years before the 1914-1918 war, have poems that were written after it had broken out. The misgivings that Stalky had felt about the new generation of subalterns, ‘brought up on lemon-squash and mobilisation text-books’ had been refuted more completely and tragically than by Wontner’s ‘common or bear – garden rag’ and the poem begins with sudden anguish.