Jobson’s Amen

(notes edited by John McGivering)

Publication

The first two stanzas were published in Cosmopolitan Magazine and Nash’s Magazine in July 1914 as a heading to “Return to the East”, one of the articles within “Egypt of the Magicians”, but did not appear when the articles were collected in Letters of Travel in 1920.

The poem was first published in full in A Diversity of Creatures in 1917, linked to the story “In the Presence”. It is published in Inclusive Verse, Definitive Verse and The Works of Rudyard Kipling (Wordsworth Poetry Library), in the 2013 Cambridge Edition, and – with slight differences – in the Sussex Edition Volume 9, page 239 and Volume 34, page 322 and the Burwash Edition, Volumes 9 and 27.

Apart from a brief reference by Dr Tompkins (p. 216) and a quotation by Charles Carrington (p. 87) there has been little comment by the critics on these verses.

Notes on the Text

[Title]

Perhaps an echo of the name of The Anglo-Indian Dictionary, the invaluable reference-book , called “Hobson-Jobson”. It was reviewed by Kipling in 1886. See Kipling’s India (p. 158).

See KJ 275/47, 276/53 , 277/59, 276/35 and 279/49 for further suggestions.

[Verse 1]

Infidels usually those who do not belong to the religion of the speaker.

Hereticks archaic spelling of heretics – similar in meaning to infidels.

Turks historically, inhabitants of the Ottoman Empire – countries including and bordering on present-day Turkey – usually not of the Christian faith.

Candle, Bell nor Book Usually ‘Bell, book, and candle’ which refers to the excommunication of a person who had committed a particularly grievous sin. The ritual was once used by the Roman Catholic Church; a bishop, with 12 priests, would recite an oath that excluded the offender from the Church until he repented, ring a bell, close a holy book and extinguish a candle.

[Verse 2]

Conches shells of large gastropods made into trumpets.

[Verse 4]

Well-wheel…water-channel used for irrigating land – see “Little Foxes” (Actions and Reactions, page 228)

Rise and shine An echo of Isaiah 60,1-3:

‘Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising…

This passage from Isaiah was the theme of Kipling’s last story, “Proofs of Holy Writ”. which we have annotated for this Guide.

[Verse 5]

The Infidels that bow to wood and stone ! see the verse “The ‘Eathen.

Gospelleer (various spellings) an ardent preacher or evangelist.

[Verse 6]

mirages optical illusions usually found in deserts or at sea, caused by the refraction of light in hot and cold air.

[Verse 7]

Rule in this context a measure

Calliper (or calipher) another measuring device.

[Verse 8]

 

Himalaya the vast mountains of Central Asia extending from Kashmir to Assam and containing some of the highest peaks in the world, mentioned in many of the Indian stories.

A certain sacred mountain perhaps Mount Everest,

[J.McG.]

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