Rosicrucian subtleties

(notes edited by John McGivering)


This is the heading to “Consequences” in Plain Tales from the Hills (1888). Collected in the Sussex Edition vol. xxxiv and Definitive Verse with Fludd for Flood in line 6.

The poem

It is a burlesque with a distinct flavour, noted by Ann Weygandt, of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), the American essayist and poet of great importance to Kipling.

It is a cryptic little verse that may foreshadow “Unprofessional” and “The Tender Achilles” in Limits and Renewals.

Notes on the Text

Rosicrucian subtleties ‘Rosicrucians’ were seventeenth-century philosophers using the language of alchemy and claiming occult powers, supposed to be founded by Christian Rosenkreuz, whose existence seems a little doubtful. See also “The Propagation of Knowledge” in Debits and Credits p. 280, line 22. See also Andrew Lycett p. 111 for an account of ‘seekers after enlightenment’ in Simla, when Rudyard was there in 1885, the previous year.

Jacatâlà’s Hill this must be Jakko Hill, as the ‘teachers’ lived in Simla.

Bombast Paracelsus Paracelsus, the Swiss alchemist and physician (1493–1541) discovered hydrogen and made other important discoveries, which were marred by his arrogance and intemperate habits, hence ‘Bombast’.

Flood/Fludd Robert Fludd or Flud (1574–1637) physician and Rosicrucian who studied the works of Paracelsus and practiced in London, advocating a system affirming the identity of physical and spiritual truth.

Dominant in music, the fifth note of a scale of any key. The meaning in this context is not clear but may be astrological.

Cycles of the Suns periods of twenty-eight years corresponding to the Sunday letters in the ‘Tables to find Easter Day’ in the Book of Common Prayer.[Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable].

Luna at her apogee the moon at her greatest distance from the earth.


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