The Advertisement

(notes by John McGivering and John Radcliffe)

 

Publication

The first of the first group of fourteen, published in the Daily Mail 5 February 1904. Collected in the Sussex Edition vol.35, p. 122. (ORG Verse No. 837). Cambridge Edition (Ed. Pinney) vol II: text – p. 1272. endnote – p. 1533.

After

“In the Manner if the Earlier English” An essay in alliteration, in the style of some of Chaucer’s contemporaries

In a somer sesun, whon softe was the sonne,
I schop me into a shroud, as I a scheep were;
In habite as an hermite unholy of werkes
Wente I wyde in this world wondres to here;

[“The Vision of Piers Plowman”, William Langland, c. 1330-1387]

Theme

The poem describes the virtues of a luxurious early motor-car, equally suitable for town or country; silent, beautifully fitted and a pleasure to handle…

Harry Ricketts in KJ 305 comments that Kipling is presumably taking off the ‘manner’ of medieval alliterative poems like Langland’s “Piers Plowman”:

… except that he only does so in a loosely impressionistic way. Instead of accurately reproducing the basic pattern of such verse – two alliteratively stressed syllables in the first half of the line and one (only very occasionally two) in the second, Kipling makes up his own pattern, which mostly consists of separate alliterate grouping in each half
of the line (‘Lordly of leather, gaudily gilded’): highly alliterative, but not quite the same thing.

Notes on the text

[Line 6] unnoisesome in this context free from unpleasant smells,

[Line 7] Lordly of leather cars of the period were beautifully upholstered in leather. This is also the title of articles by Meryl Macdonald in KJ 224/28, 225/34 and 226/50.

[Line 8] Burgeoning putting forth young shoots – budding.

[Line 8] a brass bonnet in this context the cover of the engine compartment (known as the hood in the United States), often trimmed with highly-polished brasswork. One car of the period had a circular bonnet entirely made of brass.

[Line 9] wains horse-drawn wagons, always a hazard for early car drivers.

 

[J.McG/J.R.]

©John McGivering and John Radcliffe 2020 All rights reserved