Helen all alone

(notes edited by John McGivering)


First published in A Diversity of Creatures in 1917 in the United Kingdom and the United States, where it follows, and echoes the theme of “In the Same Boat”. Collected, with slight alterations, in the Sussex Edition, Volume 9. page 103 and Volume 34, page 314; the Burwash Edition, Volumes 9 and 27, Inclusive Verse, Definitive Verse and The Collected Works of Rudyard Kipling (Wordsworth Poetry Library.


Notes on the text

[Verse 1]

There was darkness under Heaven / For an hour’s space:  This is echoing the darkness at Christ’s crucifixion. See Luke 23.44-45:  [D.H.]

And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst (parallels: Matthew 27.45; Mark 15.33). This gives resonance to “God had left his throne”, a few lines down.

[Verse 2]

Limbo gate:   In the mainstream Christian tradition (most famously in Dante, Inferno 4), those in Limbo are stuck there forever.  Hence the speaker’s reference to Helen and him being “damned”. [D.H.]




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