Sepulchral

 

(notes by John McGiveringt and John Radcliffe)

 

Publication

One of the last group of six, which did not appear until 1929, when the whole set of 26 items were assembled within a three-volume collection called Poems 1886-1929. Collected in the Sussex Edition vol. 35, p. 119. (ORG Verse No. 857).

After

“From the Greek Anthologies”. After Simonides of Ceos (c. 556- 469 B.C.) Greek lyric poet, born on the island of Ceos.

During his youth he taught poetry and music in his native island, and composed paeans for the festivals of Apollo. He wrote an ode celebrating the victory of his patron Scopas in a chariot-race.

In KJ 305 for March 2003 Harry Ricketts comments:

What an apt point of departure: a supposed translation of an epigram
from The Greek Anthology, one of the fountain-heads of European
(hence by descent English) poetry. Specifically, Kipling’s couplet
evokes Simonides … author of the famous epitaph for the
Spartans who fell at Thermopylae:

‘Go now, and tell the Spartans, passer-by,
That here obedient to their laws we lie.’

Kipling had imitated similarly terse epigrams from The Greek Anthology in his Great
War sequence, “Epitaphs of the War 1914—1918” , notably in “Common Form” … Here Kipling uses fast cars and Simonides to offer a laconic, sardonic reflection on love and death. En passant, he also
takes the opportunity to have a swipe at the stiltedness of much Victorian translatorese in the phrase ‘aught ‘neath the sun’.

[J.McG/J.R.]

©John McGivering and John Radcliffe 2020 All rights reserved