"Uncovenanted
Mercies"

Notes on the text

These notes, by Gillian Sheehan and John McGivering, are partly new, and partly based on the ORG. The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of Limits and Renewals, as published and frequently reprinted between 1932 and 1950.



[December 6th 2013]

[Page 373 line 6] Azrael In Jewish and Muslim traditions the Archangel Azrael removes the soul from the body at death; see the headnote to “On the Gate” (Debits and Credits). He makes a brief appearance (disguised as a water-carrier) in “The Butterfly that Stamped” (Just So Stories). He also appears in the poems “The Legend of Mirth” and "Jane’s Marriage" with Gabriel and others.

[Page 373 line 7] Gabriel one of the four principal Archangels

[Page 373 line 8] Thrones in this context, the Third Order of Angels.

[Page 373 line 9] Archangel of the English not known to tradition so probably Kipling’s invention.

[Page 373 line 16] Satan he also appears in various guises in “The Peace of Dives”, “The Benefactors”, (Sussex Edition volume 30) "On the Gate" and “The Last of the Stories”, (Abaft the Funnel).

[Page 373 line 21] Ruya’il See Scott Alan Kugle, Rebel Between Spirit And Law: Ahmad Zarruq, Sainthood, And Authority in Islam, Indiana University Press, 2006.

[Page 373 line 1] Kalka’il See Scott Alan Kugle, Rebel Between Spirit And Law: Ahmad Zarruq, Sainthood, And Authority in Islam, Indiana University Press, 2006. Kalka is also a town in the foothills of the Himalayas, derived from the Goddess Kali, the entry to Himachal Pradesh - The Land of Gods - mentiond in many of the Indian stories.

[Page 374 lines 4 – 6] Who knoweth the spirit of man… etc a quotation from Ecclesiastes 3,21. See also page 394 line 22 below.

[Page 374 line 13] give away in this context to betray or disclose some matter.

[Page 375 line 4] Under the Clock the older rail termini have large clocks suspended above the concourses – favourite and traditional meeting-places.

[Page 375 line 15] frontal surtures of the skull it is an Islamic tradition that the lines on the forehead form Arabic script which foretells the destiny of the child. The frontal sutures are the lines where in the womb and in the early weeks of life the frontal bones (parts of the skull) become joined together.

[Page 375 line 27] Evil itself shall pity see Dobrée in the headnote.

[Page 376 line 23] Caxtonised William Caxton (1422-1491) was the first English printer; Dr. Tompkins discussed this word when she proposed the toast -“The Unfading Genius of Rudyard Kipling” - at the Kipling Society's Annual Luncheon in 1969 (see KJ 169/06) but unfortunately did not define it. ORG suggests that it means that the world has been swamped with the printed word ever since. This Editor believes that it just signifies 'full of words' – 'verbose' ! We would appreciate other ideas from readers.

[Page 376 line 27] the Imperfect Octave Probably the Seven Deadly Sins. [G.S.]

[Page 376 line 31] Zeitgeist a German expression, meaning 'the Spirit of the Age'.

[Page 377 line 10] unhappy people cant’t make other people happy see page 382 line 1 below.

[Page 377 line 24] Job’s case Job was subjected to a series of fearful trials. Wikipedia writes that: 'The Book of Job has been called “the most profound and literary work of the entire Old Testament” with attempts to reconcile the existence of evil or suffering in the world with the existence of God. Scholars are divided as to the origin, intent, and meaning of the book.'

[Page 377 line 25] reach the top of his form achieve his best performance.

[Page 377 line 30] Man of Uz Job 1,1: 'There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job...'

Qua (Latin) 'as'.

[Page 378 line 5] a Demi-Official a Memorandum addressed to superior authority mentioned in some of the Indian stories.

[Page 378 [lines 7-17] final despatch work etc this appears to be a plea for easing the passing of the dying.

[Page 379 line 2] the dyer’s hand an echo of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 111:

And almost thence my nature is subdu’d
To what it works in, like the dyer’s hand.
[Page 379 line 4] the Man of Uz Job – see page 377 line 30 above.

[Page 379 line 12] No ! – No ! A Naval expression. This is the reply by the coxwain of a boat approaching and intending to disembark passengers aboard an H. M. Ship in harbour after dark, in response to the hail of 'Boat Ahoy' by the gangway staff. This cry indicates that there are no officers of wardroon rank in the boat; if there were, the reply would be Aye ! – Aye !. A boat not intending to come alongside replies 'Passing' which should in strict naval parlance have been the response to the hail from the Ruler. (line 11.)

[Page 379 line 29] Kismet from the Arabic kisma – fate, lot, destiny.

[Page 380 lines 14-18] The Three nose-dived … etc a most impressive paragraph reflecting the ancient belief that angels had wings, so that they could fly in the manner of science-fiction heroes today.

[Page 380 lines 21-23] swallow a little etc this happens in aircraft taking off and when divers ascend from the depths – the latter must come up slowly to allow time for decompression – likewise men working in compressed air must also be decompressed to prevent the dangerous and occasionally lethal condition caused by nitrogen bubbles that form in the blood and other tissues of divers who surface too quickly.

[Page 380 line 26] the Horror of Great Darkness in "Rahere" (which follows "The Wish House" in Debits And Credits), there is the line 'a Horror of Great Darkness sunk his spirit'..

[Page 380 line 33] …leave all their hopes behind them 'Abandon hope, all ye who enter here' was inscribed over the entrance to Hell in The Divine Comedy – Inferno, by Dante Alighieri (1265-1321). See also "To be Filed for Reference" (Plain Tales from the Hills, page 330 line 24).

[Page 381 line 11] fever-gummed lips in delirium in a person with fever the lips can become sticky due to the high temperature and the ensuing dehydration.

[Page 382 line 1] “unhappy people cannot make other people happy” see page 377 line 10 above - perhaps a reference to Rahere, in “The Tree of Justice” (Rewards and Fairies) and the verses of the same name. He was a sombre serious figure and yet was the King's Jester. [G.S.]

[Page 382 line 5] He’s English see Souvenirs of France, page 4 where the young Kipling, in Paris with a couple of boys from Christ’s Hospital in 1878, are found by the French gendarmerie to be the young of some species of the insane English; a little mockery that is repeated in Kipling's verse “Kitchener’s School": 'For Allah created the English mad – the maddest of all mankind !'

[Page 382 line 13] give that couple Hell slang for a hard time - severe punishment

[Page 382 line 18] Michael St. Michael, the Archangel and leader of the armies of Heaven. He also appears in “The Enemies to Each Other” (Debits and Credits) and the poem “The Legend of Mirth.”

[Page 382 line 24] jam all ill dreams an echo of the beginning of the second verse of Hymn No. 264 in The English Hymnal (of c. 1930) beginning: 'Before the ending of the day.' 'Jam' in this context is taken from the practice of blocking radio signals so that they cannot be understood by the intended recipient.

[Page 383 line 21] Eve the wife of Adam – they were expelled from the Garden of Eden when they disobeyed God’s order not to eat the apple, which gave knowledge of Good and Evil. (Genesis,3).

[Page 384 line 3] information on his blotter a large pad of blotting-paper on the desk used for drying the ink in the days when pens were dipped into an inkpot. In effect, 'on his desk', or 'at his disposal'.

[Page 384 line 8] burking Partridge [The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English] notes 'burk' as a word of various meanings, suggesting that in this context that as it rhymes with 'shirk' it signifies 'doing a poor job' or perhaps 'avoiding work altogether'.

[Page 384 line 17] opposite numbers people in different organisations of similar status, who do business with each other.

[Page 384 line 26] My God ! My God! Why hast Thou foresaken me ? some of the last words of Jesus on the Cross, Matthew 2,46.

[Page 385 line 4] tiara an elegant head-dress made of precious metal with jewels, worn by ladies at Court.

[Page 385 line 5] Court in this context a function at the residence of the Sovereign

[Page 385 lines 13 - 21] I have a song to sing, oh! Jack Point reprises “The Singing Farce of the Merryman and his Maid” from Act I in the finale of Gilbert and Sullivan’s light opera, “The Yeomen of the Guard” (1888) The last line should be: 'And he sighed for the love of a lady'.

The stage direction reads: Fairfax embraces Elsie as Point falls insensible at their feet; but there has been some controversy over the years as to whether he is supposed to be alive or dead.

[Page 386 lines 4 - 7] His speech is a burning fire etc misquoted from Atalanta in Calydon, page 273 by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909) The version in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (OUP, Second Edition, 1953, page 522) reads:

His speech is a burning fire
With his lips he travaileth;
In his heart is a blind desire,
In his eyes foreknowledge of death;
See also "To be Filed for Reference" (Plain Tales from the Hills, page 330, line 18).

[Page 386 line 11] Three Archangels ORG notes that Kipling has moved away from the traditional classification of Archangels, Angels etc., and given them new roles, as in “The Enemies to Each Other”, and “On the Gate” (both in Debits and Credits) together with some verse. See also another of Kipling's metaphysical fables “The Childen of the Zodiac” in Many Inventions.

[Page 386 line 21] Male and female created he them an echo of Genesis 1,27: 'So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.' Eve, however, was not created until Chapter 2, verse 21 onwards.

[Page 386 line 26] paving the way Preparing the road.

[Page 387 line 1] across a stomach that insisted a little another way of saying he was rather fat. The Archangel of the English was not an impressive figure.

[Page 387 line 6] Paviours Skilled workmen who lay paving-stones, hence, figuratively, those who prepare the way for someone else.

[Page 387 line 30] arride 'please' or 'gratify', an archaic word from the French.

[Page 388 line 2] modus moriendi (Latin) a way of death.

[Page 388 line 7] Apropos 'In respect of' (French).

[Page 388 line 16] Breaking Strain See “Hymn of Breaking Strain” .

[Page 388 line 22] an annuity an annual income in return for a sum invested.

[Page 388 line 23] Rowton lodging-house one of a chain of cheap hostels for working-men built by Montagu William Lowry-Corry, 1st Baron Rowton (1838-1903), British philanthropist and diplomat,

[Page 388 line 33] Line for line …. letter for letter an echo of Isaiah 28,10: 'For precept must be upon precept ... line upon line; line upon line …

[Page 389 line 9] nitrous oxide also known as 'laughing-gas' used as a short-term anaesthetic in dentistry, etc; a gas devoid of odour but with a slightly sweetish taste. [Black's Medical Dictionary, page 538].

[Page 389 line 11] Smells wake memory a theme to which Kipling often returns - see “Lichtenberg”

Smells are surer than sounds or sights
To make your heart-strings crack...
See also Something of Myself page 39, and “The Tomb of His Ancestors” (The Day’s Work page 107)

[Page 389 line 21] ipso facto Latin – 'by that very fact'.

[Page 389 line 23] pillories wooden structures with holes for neck and wrists in which in past times offenders were secured and exposed to public ridicule and sometimes showers of unpleasant rubbish. It was abolished as a form of punishmnet in England and Wales in 1837.

[Page 389 line 24] coaches in this context stage-coaches, horse -drawn passenger vehicles which ran country-wide before the advent of railways.

[Page 390 line 4] summer-time see “Beauty Spots” earlier in this volume, page 312 line 18.

twenty past six o’clock standing for twenty past seven Kipling got this the wrong way round – clocks are put forward one hour during Summer Time,

[Page 390 line 6] Porters railway staff who assisted passengers and carried their luggage. They also announced arrivals and departures in the days before public-address systems. They disappeared in England in the 1950s, but are still numerous and active on the Indian rtailways.

[Page 391 line 15] the Hotel The larger London termini usually had hotels incorporated in the buildings. Some still do. The larger London termini usually had hotels incorporated in the buildings. Some still do. The magnificent Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras Station, designed by George Gilbert Scott in 1868, is being restored to its former glory as a fitting terminal for the Eurostar link between London, Paris, and Brussels.

[Page 391 line 16] come unstuck probably, in this context, to have a nervous breakdown in public

[Page 391 line 19] Stationmaster then a very dignified official in a frock-cost and top-hat. He has, in recent years, become a 'station-manager', to the regret of this Editor.

[Page 391 line 28] That’s him Fowler [Modern English Usage, 3rd Edition edited by D. W. Burchfield, OUP, 1996] looks upon this as slightly vulgar, preferring the clumsy but grammatically correct 'That is he', and quoting the famous line from “The Jackdaw of Rheims” by R H Barham (1788-1845): 'Heedless of grammar they all cried “That’s him !”'.

[Page 391 line 29] And behold he was in My hand perhaps an echo of Revelations 14, 9 & 10, and other biblical references.

[Page 392 line 5] concertina a smaller version of the piano-accordion with buttons instead of keys.

[Page 392 lines 9-17] The sun stands still in heaven... The first line is an echo of Joshua 10,13: 'And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies'. ORG believes this verse to be by Kipling as there are eight lines in the Sussex Edition volume 11, page 376, and two lines on page 370. It does not figure in Definitive Verse, Inclusive Verse or The Works of Rudyard Kipling Wordsworth Poetry Library).

[Page 392 line 26] Inquisition a technique of the Spanish Inquisition for breaking down the resistance of those they were interrogating. See also “The Tender Achilles” at page 354, line 18 earlier in this volume.

[Page 392 line 28] Continental Bradshaw George Bradshaw (1801-1853) created Bradshaw's Railway Guides, with details of railway timetables. They became an established Victorian institution, covering railways in various parts of the world including the continent of Europe (hence 'Continental Bradshaw') and the Indian Railways. ' Seldom has the gigantic intellect of man been employed upon a work of greater utility', said the magazine Punch in 1865. See also “In the Same Boat” (A Diversity of Creatures, page 100 line 24).

[Page 393 line 8] steamer-folders brochures with details of sailings of passenger-ships.

[Page 393 line 26] That isn’t quite cricket 'not the gentlemanly way to behave'.

[Page 393 line 33 and overleaf] He that sinneth – etc an echo of Ecclesiasticus 38,15: 'He that sinneth before his Maker, let him fall into the hand of the physician'.

[Page 394 line 12] salvolatile aromatic spirit of ammonia then used as a stimulating expectorant in cough mixtures and a stimulant in faints. [Black's Medical Dictionary] Inhalation of ammonia vapour stimulates respiration, accelerates the heart, and causes some vasoconstricion. It is used in the form of smelling salts as a restorative in fainting and collapse. [Martindale, Extra Pharmacopoeia].

[Page 394 line 22] Who knoweth… echoes of Proverbs 24,22: 'For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both ?'. Also Ecclesiastes 6,12: 'For who knoweth what is good for man in this life'. See also page 374 lines 4.6 above.

[Page 395 lines 7 - 8] I charge you at the Judgement (and page 397, line 11.) echoes of I Timothy 5,21: 'I charge thee before God and the Lord Jesus Christ ... that thou observe those things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality'; also an Address in The Book of Common Prayer to a couple about to be married:

– I require and charge you both, as ye will answer at the dreadful day of judgement … that if either of you (sic) know any impediment why ye may not be joined together in Matrimony, ye do now confess it.
Lee Gold points out: Kipling is quoting here from Christina Rossetti's poem "Many in aftertimes will say of you", of whichj the last lines run:

My love that you can make not void nor vain,
Love that foregoes you but to claim anew
Beyond this passage of the gate of death,
I charge you at the Judgment make it plain
My love of you was life and not a breath.
[Page 397 line 4] she blew softly on the woman’s forehead a most unsanitary action which a proper nurse would not do, see page 398, line 2.

[Page 397 line 6] the Order of Life see page 375 line 15 above.

[Page 397 line 11] I charge you…. see page 395, lines 7-8 above.


"Azrael's Count"

the poem

Publication

First published in Limits and Renewals (1932) where it follows “Uncovenanted Mercies “: collected in the Sussex Edition volume 11 page 383, and volume 34 page 430, and - with slight amendments - Inclusive Verse, Definitive Verse, and The Works of Rudyard Kipling, (Wordsworth Poetry Library).

Notes on the text


[line 14] Pandar a go-between, one who arranges illicit love-affairs.



[G S / J H McG]

©Gillian Sheehan and John McGivering 2008 All rights reserved