First published in Debits and Credits as an introduction to the story “The Janeites” .
Like “”To the Companions” , this is another of Kipling’s poems in imitation of the Roman poet Horace. In the accompanying story, an ex-soldier tells how important Jane Austen’s works were to a group of men serving on the western front in World War I. It illustrates the fact that her lasting reputation is due to her lifelike portraits of everyday characters, their lives and their relationships. This poem is full of allusions (with interesting variations) to Horace: see below.
A critical opinion
Desmond McCarthy, writing as “Affable Hawk” in the New Statesman, 6th October 1926, p. 15, quoted the poem in full:
“because it is the expression of an imaginative sense of proportion which is characteristic of the author, though critics who consider him first and foremost as a bard of Empire overlook that fact.”
Notes on the Text
[Page 145, lines 5-6] Kings mourn … foretold This might be compared with Odes Book IV, 9, lines 25ff:
“Vixere fortes ante Agamemnona
multi; sed omnes illacrimabiles
urgentur ignotique longa
nocte, carent quia vate sacro.”
(“There lived many brave men before Agamenon,
but they are all buried unwept and unknown in long night,
because they lack a holy poet.”)
[Page 145, lines 11-4] Yet furthest …seaweed on the shore Carrington in Kipling’s Horace (page 107) compares these lines to Odes Book III, 17, “Aeli vetusta”: e.g.:
“alga litus inutili
demissa tempestas ab Euro
(“the storm sent down by the East wind
shall strew the beach with useless seaweed.”)
[Page 145, line 18] A rage ’gainst love or death This would suit many of Horace’s odes.
[Page 145, line 19] Glazed snow … But these Carrington (p. 107) compares this verse to Odes I, 9, “Vides ut alta.” But cf. also Odes III, 10, lines 7-8:
“positas ut glaciet nives
puro numine Iuppiter …”
(“how Jupiter ices the fallen snows
with his unclouded divinity.”)
Kipling parodied this ode in the margin of his copy of Horace [Carrington, p. 19].
[Page 145, line 20] The surge of storm-bound trees Cf. Odes I, 9:
nec veteres agitantur orni”.
(“neither the cypresses
nor the ancient ash trees are tossed.”)
©Lisa Lewis, Susan Treggiari 2005 All rights reserved