(Aug 10th to 16th)

Format: Triple

…Thanks to the khaki everywhere, the scene was not unlike that which one might have seen on earth every evening of the old days outside the refreshment room by the Arch at Victoria Station, when the Army trains started…


This is from “On the Gate” in Debits and Credits, one of Kipling’s fantasies of the after-life. At the entrance to Heaven St Peter and his assistants are rushed off their feet by the heavy casualties of the War. But they continue to exercise infinite mercy and compassion.

…The passengers filed out – they and the waiting crowd devouring each other with their eyes. Some. Misled by a likeness or a half-heard voice, hurried forward crying a name or even stretching out their arms. To cover their error, they would pretend they had made no sign and bury themselves among their uninterested neighbours. As the last passenger came away, a little moan rose from the assembly…


This is from “Uncovenanted Mercies”, in Limits and Renewals, another fantasy of the after-life, but a more pessimistic vision. In a Purgatory of perpetual sadness and frustration it has been arranged by Satan that those who have committed themselves to others for all eternity have to wait endlessly for their loved ones to arrive on a train; but as the passengers emerge, they are constantly disappointed.

… “They are my own. The old women dream of me, turning in their sleep; the maids look and listen for me when they go to fill their lotahs by the river. I walk by the young men waiting within the gates at dusk, and I call over my shoulder to the white-beards. Ye know, heavenly ones, that I alone of us walk upon the earth continually, and have no pleasure in our heavens as long as a green blade springs here, or there are two voices at twilight in the standing crops. Wise are ye, but ye live far off, forgetting whence ye came …”


This is from “The Bridge Builders” in The Day’s Work. There is a flood on the Ganges, which threatens to destroy away the new bridge which has been built to span the river. The chief engineer and his foreman are swept down river in a boat, and seek refuge on an island, where they have a vision of the Gods of India. The Gods, for their various reasons, wish to see an end to men’s strivings to set their mark on the land and master nature. But Krishna, the only God who lives among people, warns them that the old ways – and allegiance to the old gods – are doomed.