A Tale of Yesterday’s
Ten Thousand Years

(notes by Philip Holberton, drawing on the research of Andrew Rutherford and Thomas Pinney)


Published in the Pioneer, 27 August 1885, under the general heading “BUNGALOW BALLADS”. It is unsigned, but authenticated by its inclusion in Scrapbook 2 of Kipling’s own press cuttings in the Kipling Papers at the University of Sussex Special Collections.

It was never collected by Kipling but is to be found in Rutherford (p. 276) and Pinney
(p. 1757).

For “Bungalow Ballads” see our note on the first poem in the series: “The Tale of Two Suits”.

The Poem

The poet tells how a fortune-teller prophesied that in four months, at a specific time and place, he would meet a maiden wearing an azure tie. He sends the fortune-teller packing, but duly meets her and they marry. She confesses that the same Hakim had told her to wait there, wearing the riband.

Notes on the Text

spins Anglo-Indian slang for unmarried women, spinsters.

Melpomene & Co. the Nine Muses, goddesses of the arts in Greek mythology. Greek writers called on them for inspiration. Melpomene was the goddess of tragedy.

draw his long, long bow exaggerate.

corker a surpassingly good thing.

Hakim physician.

Goldsteen Rutherford notes that Herr Felix von Goldstein was a professional musician and Bandmaster to the Viceroy. In 1869 he purchased “”Benmore”, a well-known Simla residence, added a ballroom and skating rink, and made it for years a centre of social activity. When a new Town Hall was built in 1885, incorporating a ballroom, Goldstein sold Benmore to the Punjab Government for use as office accommodation.

See Kipling’s poem “The Plea of the Simla Dancers” in Departmental Ditties.

khotee house, building.

pop pop the question, propose marriage.


©Philip Holberton 2020 All rights reserved