Kipling and
The Seven Seas




the article
[July 2014]


Notes on the text


(1) The Seven Seas was published simultaneously on 30 October 1896 by Methuen in London and Appleton in New York.

(2) Thomas L. Pinney (ed.) The Letters of Rudyard Kipling, vol. 2, 1890–99 (Basingstoke: Macmillan ,1999) pp. 159, 188, 211, 213, 219, 237; letter to Ripley Hitchcock, 29 July 1896, pp. 246–7.

(3) Sales figures quoted from Ann Parry The Poetry of Rudyard Kipling (Buckingham: Open University Press, 1992), pp. 53.

(4) I am here counting the sequence ‘A Song of the English’ as seven separate poems. The five poems in The Seven Seas not dealing with the themes of the sea, time, space or communications are ‘The Rose’, a lyric about theodicy; ‘The Story of Ung’ and ‘The Rhyme of True Thomas’ about the role of the poet; ‘An American’ which ironically describes a typical American identity, and ‘Hymn Before Action’, written during the Venezuela Crisis, which invokes God’s help in time of war.

(5) Rudyard Kipling ‘For to Admire’, The Seven Seas (London: Methuen, 1896), p. 225. Further page references are given in the text.

(6) Kipling, letter to Captain C. A. Robinson, 29 August 1917, Pinney (ed.) Letters of Rudyard Kipling, vol. 4, 1911–19 (Basingstoke, MacMillan, 1999), p. 468.

(7) Bernard Porter and Lord Milner, quoted in Ann Parry ?The Poetry of Rudyard Kipling (Buckingham: Open University Press, 1992), pp. 57–8.

(8) Ann Parry, pp. 60, 63.

(9) Kipling, letter to Moberly Bell, 26 Oct 1895, in Pinney (ed.) Letters of Rudyard Kipling, vol. 2, pp. 206–7.

(10) Parry’s book describes Kipling as a ‘writer who struggled…to achieve discourses that crossed the social formation and roused and unified the nation’ (p. 139). She does not mention Kipling’s less obviously political lyrics in the Jungle Books or the ‘Puck’ books.

(11) Peter Keating, Kipling the Poet (London: Secker & Warburg, 1994), p. 92.

(12) Keating, ibid. p. 103.

(13) Keating, ibid. p. 95.

(14) Kipling started writing ‘The White Seal’ on 3 May 1893. It was first published in the National Review in August 1893. ‘The Rhyme of the Three Sealers’ was first published on December 14, 1893.

(15) See Kipling’s comparison of the ‘Safety, Law, Honour and Obedience’ of Canada with the ‘frank, brutal decivilisation’ of the US in Something of Myself (London: Macmillan, 1937), p. 200, quoted by Charles Fish on p. 25 of KJ 355.

(16) ‘The lot is fallen to me in a fair ground: yea, I have a goodly heritage’: Psalm 16 verse 7, Book of Common Prayer (Coverdale translation).

(17) Exodus 14 verse 22. Like nearly all Kipling’s Bible quotes, this is from the King James Version (KJV).

(18) ‘Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith the Lord’: Isaiah 40 verse 1, KJV.

(19) Keating, Kipling the Poet, p. 100, quoting Dickens Our Mutual Friend.

(20) Kipling, ‘Song of the Red War-Boat’, Thomas C. Pinney (ed.) The Cambridge Edition of the Poems of Rudyard Kipling (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), vol. 2, p. 806. First published in Rewards and Fairies (London: Macmillan, 1908).

(21) ‘The Disturber of Traffic’, first printed in the Atlantic Monthly in September 1891, was collected in Many Inventions (London: Macmillan, 1893).

(22) Parry, The Poetry of Rudyard Kipling, p. 61

(23) The notes to The Seven Seas in the New Reader’s Guide interpret the ‘sea-wife’ as Queen Victoria, but this seems a too literal interpretation of its allegory; it seems unlikely that Kipling would render Her Majesty as a ‘weary wife / That nods beside the fire’ (p. 101).

(24) A. C. Swinburne, Poems of Algernon Charles Swinburne, vol. II, ‘Songs before Sunrise’ (London: Chatto & Windus, 1909); ‘Litany of Nations’ (pp. 66–9); ‘Hertha’ (pp. 72–80), pp. 79, 80.

(25) ‘A Song of the English’ was first published in the English Illustrated Magazine in May 1893. ‘Rikki-Tikki-Tavi’ was first published in the Pall Mall Gazette and St Nicholas Magazine, November 1893.

(26) Kipling, ‘The Masque of Plenty’ and ‘Darzee’s Chaunt’ in Pinney (ed.) The Complete Poems of Rudyard Kipling, vol. 1, pp. 71, 254. Darzee’s ‘Death in the garden lies dead’ parodies the famous line ‘Death lies dead’ in Swinburne’s ‘The Forsaken Garden’.

(27) Keating, Kipling the Poet p. 106.

(28) ‘O ye Ice and Snow, bless ye the Lord: praise him and magnify him for ever’: Verse 49 of the ‘Benedicite’ psalm in the Service for Morning Payer in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer: a slip on Kipling’s part, since McAndrew the Scottish Calvinist would be unlikely to quote from the Episcopalian prayer-book.

(29) Kipling, Captains Courageous (London: Macmillan, 1897), pp. 96, 111, 176.

(30) U. C. Knoepflmacher, ‘Kipling as Browning: From Parody to Translation’, Victorian Poetry, vol. 50, no. 4, Winter 2012, pp. 606–23.

(31) Knoepflmacher, ibid. p. 618.

(32) Knoepflmacher, ibid. p. 618.

(33) McAndrew’s praise of ‘Man, the Arrtifex’ sharing the ‘warld-liftin’ joy of divine creation (p. 25) comes very close to the Pelagian heresy that human nature is not tainted by original sin. Moreoever, his engines hymn not the glory of God but the secular virtues of duty and discipline.

(34) See Donald Davie’s fierce critique of Kipling’s incoherent theology in ‘Thoughts on “Recessional”’, Essays in Dissent: Church, Chapel and the Unitarian Conspiracy (Manchester: Carcanet, 1995) pp. 215–25.

(35) Robert Browning, ‘Rabbi Ben Ezra’, Ian Jack (ed.) Browning: Poetical Works 1833–1864 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970), p. 817.

(36) Browning, ibid. p. 817.

(37) Browning, ‘The Bishop Orders his Tomb in St Praxed’s’, lines 81–4, Jack (ed.) Browning, lines 81–4, p. 434.

(38) Kipling’s ‘In Partibus’, Pinney (ed.) Complete Poems, vol. 3, p. 1319; Keating, pp. 82, 109–10.

(39) ‘The Mary Gloster’ was written between 1894 and 1896 (Pinney, Complete Poems, p. 640). Kipling says in Something of Myself that he began Captains Courageous, in the summer of 1896 (p. 130).

(40) Kipling, Captains Courageous, pp. 196–7.

(41). Kipling, Captains Courageous, p. 221.

(42) Daniel Karlin, ‘ Captains Courageous and American Empire’, Kipling Journal, vol. 63, no. 251, September 1989, p.16.

(43) Kipling, ibid. p. 200.

(44) Kipling, ibid. p. 2. Harvey later recalls his ‘cherry-coloured jersey’ with shame on p. 140.

(45) Kipling, ibid. pp. 19, 221.

(46) On the other hand Kipling makes it plain, as both Daniel Karlin and Mark Kinkead- Weekes remark, that Cheyne the American railroad millionaire represents an amoral, ruthlessly predatory capitalism. See Karlin, op. cit., pp. 17–21 and Mark Kinkead-Weekes ‘Vision in Kipling’s Novels’, pp. 214–15, in Andrew Rutherford (ed.) Kipling’s Mind and Art (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1964).

(47) Browning, ‘The Bishop Orders his Tomb’ line 96, Jack (ed.) Browning, p. 435.

(48) See Matthew 6:21: ‘Where a man’s treasure is, there shall his heart be also’; Psalm 107:23: ‘They that that go down to the sea in ships’; Song of Solomon 4:11, ‘A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.’, KJV.

(49) Browning, ‘The Bishop Orders his Tomb’, line 125, Jack (ed.) Browning, p. 435.


[Jan Montefiore]

©Jan Montefiore 2014 All rights reserved