"Together"

England at War

(notes by
Peter Keating)




the poem
[August 13 2003]


Publication history

First published in A School History of England (1911) by C.R.L. Fletcher and Rudyard Kipling, and all subsequent school and non-school editions of the book. It was used to close chapter VII, ‘The Tudors and the Awakening of England, 1485-1603.’ In ORG Verse I (1969), No. 982(l), Harbord points out: ‘In some collections this and the next poem [i.e. “James I”] are combined under the title “Together” in two parts with the sub-title “Elizabeth and Her People,” and the second under the sub-title “King James I.”’

In A School History the poem was accompanied by one of Henry Ford’s black-and-white illustrations: it carries the title ‘At the time of the Armada – Elizabeth reviews the Troops at Tilbury.’

The poem was reprinted in I.V., 1919 under its present title and with the sub-title ('England at War') used for the first time; in D.V., 1940; the Sussex Edition, vol. 34; and the Burwash Edition, vol. 37. The title has always carried quotation marks, single originally, double in I.V. and D.V., and finally single once again for the Sussex.

Background

"Together" is offered as a celebration of the Tudor Dynasty's achievement in uniting the monarchy and the people of England to form a strong and patriotic nation. Although Elizabeth’s spirit is present throughout, Kipling is concerned here only with her qualities as an inspirational leader. He had very recently published a memorable character sketch of Elizabeth in "Gloriana" and its two framing poems (“The Two Cousins” and “The Looking-Glass”) in Rewards and Fairies (1910). As Harbord’s note in ORG indicates, “Together” has various possible links with “James I,” the next poem in the series. At the start of Chapter VIII of the School History, following immediately on from “Together,” Fletcher explains the connection: ‘Henry VIII and Elizabeth had given England unity and patriotism. Would the next race of kings, the Stuarts, be able to maintain unity?’ The implied answer is clearly ‘No!’

The poem demonstrates some of Kipling’s most characteristic poetic skills. The rhyming couplets, with seven stresses in each long line - always a favourite poetic form with Kipling – is used to create a fast-moving, jaunty rhythm leading to a confidently-asserted uplifting moral. By using an internal rhyme in the second line of each couplet – another favourite device - the rhythm is constantly lifted or rocked or jolted out of any possible complacency, and suitably so, especially for the ‘Horse and Rider’ jumping a fence in the first stanza, and the ‘Captain and Crew’ confronting a gale in the second. It is a technique which conveys continuously both key themes of the poem - the national unity that the Tudors have created and the exciting, dangerous, and adventurous activities that that unity inspired.


[P.K.]