Title Page
 Table of Contents
 A prophetic vocation
 A prophetic language
 Prophetic themes
 Biographical sketch

Group Title: prophetic qualities of Rudyard Kipling's work
Title: The prophetic qualities of Rudyard Kipling's work
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00097640/00001
 Material Information
Title: The prophetic qualities of Rudyard Kipling's work
Physical Description: xiii, 196 leaves. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Smith, Esther Greenwell
Publication Date: 1972
Copyright Date: 1972
Subject: English thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- English -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis -- University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 189-194.
Additional Physical Form: Also available on World Wide Web
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
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Table of Contents
    Title Page
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    Table of Contents
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    A prophetic vocation
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    A prophetic language
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    Prophetic themes
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    Biographical sketch
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Full Text






Copyright by
Esther Marian Greenwell Smith


I wish to acknowledge the unfailing courtesy and

generous resources of the University of Florida, most

especially in the persons of Dr. Edwin C. Kirkland

and Dr. Paul T. Thurston.


Rudyard Kipling, born in 1865, began writing for

publication before he was twenty and continued doing so

until near his death at sixty. From the year of his

triumphant literary conquest of London, 1890, to the

present, his work--partly by its quantity but more espe-

cially by its variety--has aroused a wide spectrum of

critical reaction, from enthusiastic approval to virulent

condemnation, and it still perplexes many appraisers. It

is true that since Charles Carrington's careful biography

(1955)1 dissipated the distorted psychological theses, and

since such critics as Bonamy Dobree (1929), Thomas Stearns
3 4
Eliot (1941),3 J. M. S. Tompkins (1959), and Randall

Jarrell (1961) have conceded him what may never have been

1The Life of Rudyard Kipling.

2The Lamp and the Lute.

A Choice of Kipling's Verse.

4The Art of Rudyard Kipling.

5Introduction to The Best Short Stories of Rudyard

in doubt--major literary rank, there has been a general

toning down of the stridently derisive criticism of


Nevertheless, critics still tend to seek to come to

terms with him through Procrustean theories that omit much

and distort more. Thus, J. I. M. Stewart compares Kipling's

novel The Light That Failed to Thomas Hardy's Jude the Ob-

scure and D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover, calling

them all the works of geniuses but "sick" men.6 C. S. Lewis

is sure "that Kipling is a very great artist," but he finds

the informing thesis of nearly all of Kipling's work a

"master passion" for "the intimacy of the closed circle."7

And Noel Annan tries to force Kipling into a sociological

framework that equates Kipling's "Law" with the anthropolo-

gists' culture, and cuts off a major portion of his writing

by claiming Kipling considers "the truth of religion irrele-

vant." Even Dobree, usually cited not only as the first

critic to discuss a significant body of Kipling's work and

6Rudyard Kiplinq, p. 93.

7"Kipling's World" from They Asked for a Paper.
Delivered as a Lecture in 1948 and first published in The
Kipling Journal, XXV, Nos. 127, 128 (September, December,
1958), 8-16, 7-11; No. 128, 8.
"Kipling's Place in the History of Ideas," Victorian
Studies, III (1959-60), 327.

to treat Kipling as a major artist, but also as the critic

who has placed the greatestemphasis on Kipling's mythical

or other-than-realistic quality, fails to establish a

logical connection among his many brilliant insights into

Kipling's themes because the frame of reference is too

limited. That Kipling conceived of the universe as "indif-
ferent" and yet governed by a God of grace and compassion,

Whose chief concern is that "His banished be not expelled

from him,"0 is a confusion of viewpoints only partially

and incorrectly explained by the theory that Kipling was

irreligious at the beginning of his career and religious

in the latter half of his life when suffering destroyed his

confidence.1 It is, unfortunately, typical of critics who

believe that the God (or goddess) Kipling worshipped was

Britannica, or that "his subtilized Jehovah" was an out-

moded concept that he made serve in place of a better name

for the Source of his craftmanship.12

The God Rudyard Kipling found in countless experiences

and to Whom he dedicated his art is not incompatible with

Rudyard Kipling, Realist and Fabulist, p. 6.

0Ibid., p. 24.

1Richard Le Gallienne, "Kipling's Place In Litera-
ture," Munsey's Magazine, LXVIII (November, 1919), 245.
12 /
Dobree, The Lamp and the Lute, p. 63.


the Judeo-Christian understanding of God in the fullest

implications of Biblical teaching about Him. He is

Creator, not just of the Garden of Eden but of all things

and all men; He is Eternal; He is the Designer of History;

His Law governs Man, His Love redeems Man; He is the only

One worthy of adoration and praise; His ultimate purpose

is to fit Man for His company. Each major figure in the

Bible, from Abraham to St. Paul, had as his life purpose

the discovery and communication of some facet of Man's

growing understanding of this God, although most of these

figures were to their contemporaries unorthodox.

It is the thesis of this study that Kipling, seen

through his work, fulfills a prophetic role, from the agony

of lonely commitment to the authority of an inspired mes-

sage. Furthermore, he uses the language and material of

the Bible and other religious resources as an essential

idiom of his art, and he establishes the framework for his

artistic themes on a God-oriented structure of Divine Law

for the universe, Divine Love for all creatures, Divine

Concern with all Reality, and Divine Source for all Truth.

Recognition of this divinely ordained and controlled frame-

work clarifies Kipling's intent, enriches his artistry, and

resolves the inconsistencies of lesser bases of analyses.


The term prophetic is used, then, in its Scriptural

sense: the work of men under divine mandate who look at

their world with spiritually heightened insight and pre-

sent messages of judgment and mercy. No attempt will be

made to re-evaluate his literary greatness, nor is the

identification of his central purpose intended to negate

the validity of interpretations of his varied interests.

While occasional reference will be made to contradictory

or corroborating evidence outside the poems, stories,

novels, speeches and other writing of Kipling, the chief

emphasis will be placed on a wide selection of individual

works, with the intent that both the quantity and the con-

sistency of the prophetic qualities may be revealed.

Kipling's statements of his own prophetic "call" and God-

given'message," and his complex uses of prophetic character-

istics in his art will be explored for the purpose of dis-

covering a literary--and if the artist is judged sincere,

a personal--philosophy comprehensive enough to serve as a

key to his total work.





PREFACE . . . .


His Call . . .
His Message. .

Definition . .
Religious Subjects
Spiritual Insights

Basis of His Art
God's Love .
God's Reality. .
God's Truth. . .
Conclusion .





. . . . . . . 189


. .

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Esther Marian Greenwell Smith

August, 1972

Chairman: Dr. Edwin C. Kirkland
Major Department: English

Rudyard Kipling's work is permeated with material from

the Bible and other religious sources. It also exhibits a

tone of authoritative insight similar to that of the

Biblical prophets. While many critics have commented on

either his Biblical language or his prophetic tone, the

significance of these qualities has not previously been

systematically explored in order to ascertain his major

frame of reference. Defining a prophet as one who under-

stands his vocation as a mandate under God, with a message

based on God-given insights, this study traces Kipling's

statements of prophetic call, dedication and message

throughout a wide selection of his writing, in all its

genres and periods, to verify his prophetic point of

view as the comprehensive frame of reference necessary

to understanding individual works.

Kipling identifies his "vocation" as a prophetic

mandate in a variety of ways. For example, in the poem

"The Explorer" he repeatedly claims that his work is under

God's guidance and fulfills a part of God's design for

history, alluding to the annointing of Saul as the first

king of Israel to establish his Biblical view of history.

"My New-Cut Ashlar," a prayer-poem rich in artistic sym-

bolism and Biblical allusion, asserts that his prophetic

message is based on a God-given vision prefigured in the

experience of the Apostle Peter. In "To the True Romance"

the Spirit Kipling serves is given the attributes of the

Holy Spirit. The record of awesome spiritual experiences

such as mystics report is implied in "The Prayer of Miriam

Cohen"; Kipling acknowledges having had some form of

mystical experience from childhood, mentioning these

"fortunate hours" in a number of his stories and in his

autobiography. There is much other evidence that Kipling

dedicated his talents in the manner of religious pro-

phet; among others who recognized this are T. S. Eliot,

Charles E. Carrington (his official biographer), and

his sister, Mrs. Alice Fleming.

From this point of view, his pervasive use of Bib-

lical and other religious material becomes integral to

his art, expressing not only his meaning but relating


him to the prophetic tradition. In his frankly religious

or prophetically denunciatory selections, of which there

are considerably more than those generally known, Biblical

allusions and traditional religious concepts not only in-

tensify the artistic effectiveness of the work but iden-

tify Kipling's larger design. This use of prophetic lan-

guage is even more striking in his many apparently non-

religious selections, in which Biblical allusions often

furnish the key to an adequate interpretation by pin-

pointing the chief emphasis desired or placing the specific

incident against a spiritual, universal and God-centered

frame of reference. Even his occasional seemingly ir-

reverent use of Biblical or other religious material

reveals both a knowledge of these sources and a concern

with presenting them with fresh validity.

In the light of his acknowledged prophetic vocation

and his artistically responsible use of prophetic lan-

guage, his major themes of Law, Love, Reality and Truth

become expressions of his prophetic conviction that the

world was created and is sustained by an omnipotent

God whose ultimate purpose is to continuously establish

a divine-human partnership, effective in this life and

perfected in immortality. The conviction was based

on his prophetic vision--that God is concerned with


all of His creation and that nothing touched by His

Grace is "unclean." Such a frame of reference compre-

hends Kipling's many interests, identifies the source

of his values, and enriches the artistry of his work.




There are qualities in the work of Rudyard Kipling--

qualities of cosmic concern, passionate involvement and

religious orientation--that can best be explained by the

concept of a Biblical prophet. Evidence that Kipling so

understood his work, as a vocation under God, as a pro-

phetic mandate, is found in a wide selection of his writing,

in all its genres and periods. Sometimes the statement of

his prophetic role--from call to fulfillment--is complete

in one work, as in the poem "The Explorer." Sometimes it

is evident from the tone of the selection, a tone of

thundering denunciation of his nation's sins, as in "The

Islanders," or a tone of challenge to total commitment to

an idealistic destiny, as in "A Song of the English," or a

tone of divine compassion, as in "The Supports." Again it

may be the use of religious allusions or quotations as key

lines in a story, as in "Madonna of the Trenches," or it may

be the exploration of the complexities of traditional

religious concepts, as in "On the Gate: A Tale of '16."


Even more significant than these isolated examples are the

many related and supporting selections and the total

cumulative evidence of his religiously oriented insights

and expressions, all of which argue persuasively that he

was not simply writing in the language of his day nor for

the religiously sympathetic market, but in language appro-

priate to his prophetic intent.

His searching vision and his courageous idealism2

have often suggested to critics and commentators the label

"prophetic": "'Poet and prophet for all the human race'";

"a Seer, a Prophet, a Visionary, with all his realism";4

"Kipling was something rarer than a philosopher, he was a
prophet." But the religious orientation of his prophetic

1Robert Lynd, Books and Writers, p. 92.

Victor Bonney, "Some Aspects of Kipling's Greatness,"
The Kipling Journal, No. 38 (June, 1936), pp. 49-50. The
Kipling Journal began using volume numbers with the March,
1939, issue, No. 49, volume V.

3L. C. Dunsterville, "Message to the English Speaking
Union," The Kipling Journal, No. 39 (September, 1936),
p. 80.

4Gerard E. Fox, "Rudyard Kipling the Tribal Singer,"
The Kipling Journal, XIV, No. 82 (July, 1947), 8.

T. S. Eliot, "The Unfading Genius of Rudyard
Kipling," The Kipling Journal, XXVI, No. 129 (March, 1959),

nature has rarely been understood, in part because both

his friends and his enemies have seen him as the prophet

of British traditions and imperialism: "His imperialism

is the healthy kind which our race held before itself as an
ideal"; "He appeals strongly to the spirit of adventure

and achievement which lies deep at the roots of the British

character";7 "We think of Kipling most of all as the poet

Laureate of the Army and the Navy and the Empire, of India
and the Jungle and Public School"; "Loving his country and

countrymen, with a proud and passionate love, yet flaying

them with whips of scorpions, like a prophet of old, when he

thinks they are not living up to the sturdy traditions passed

on by their rough forefathers."

While critics have found it difficult to avoid the

label "prophet," they tend to explain the source and dedi-

cation of Kipling's prophetic qualities according to their

own interests or convictions. In addition to the familiar

"Kipling the Interpreter! How a South African Sees
Him," The Kipling Journal, No. 18, (June, 1931), p. 60.

7Robert Stokes, "Kipling and the Spirit of the Age,"
The Kipling Journal, No. 26 (June, 1933), p. 40.

8Sir Francis Goodenough, "The Humour of Kipling," The
Kipling Journal, No. 37 (March, 1936), p. 26.

A. E. G. Cornwell, "The Apostle of Work and Service,"
The Kipling Journal, No. 48 (December, 1938), p. 131.

bias of Empire or British traditions just cited, artistic

inspirations or hereditary inclination may be emphasized.

Thus, H. Crichton-Miller, making "Some Psychological

Observations on Kipling's Writings," points out that the

inspiration of "The Explorer" comes by "direct intuition"

which is the mark of "the true prophet," but he dilutes

the whole experience to a fulfillment of the creative

quest.0 And Hilton Brown finds Kipling explained by his

ancestry, "a long line of Yorkshire Nonconformists, crossed

by a Scottish Highland strain also given to religion as a

form of self-expression,"l and deprecates Kipling's preacher-

and prophet-like "certainty of revealed knowledge," by

charging that both the prophets of Israel and Kipling often

made "hasty generalizations, and hastier moral judgments."12

Furthermore, the irregularity of his "creed" confused

many. Kipling often criticized the conventionalized reli-
gious practices or practitioners of his day. So, of

10The Kipling Journal, XIV, No. 84 (December, 1947), 7-8.

Rudyard Kipling, p. 85.
Ibid., pp. 87-88.

13"Kaspar's Song in 'Varda,'" Traffics and Discoveries,
VII, 193: "Lispeth," Plain Tales from the Hills, I, 1-8,
Kim, XVI; "Jobson's Amen," Diversity of Creatures, IX, 207-
208. All references to Kipling's works will be cited by the
original book title and the volume and pages in The Burwash
Edition of the Complete Works in Prose and Verse.

course, have most prophets: Also, he sometimes used and

approved such "unorthodox" material as bits and pieces of
the teachings or traditions pf Hinduism and Mohammedanism.4

This, too, is not unlike prophets who have presented an

interpretation of God bigger than that of denominational

or racial dogma.15 And he often wrote on "shocking" or
unreligiouss" subjects, for he found nothing God had made

"common or unclean."17 Roger Lancelyn Green decided "He

must be claimed as a convinced Theist rather than a con-
vinced Christian,"8 but Sir George MacMunn insisted that

one "cannot read Kipling's works, especially his verse,

without realizing that he was a very sincere Christian."19

Certainly Kipling's use of Biblical material is proportional

14"The Miracle of Purun Bhagat," The Jungle Books, XI,
291-309; the poem "The Captive," Traffics and Discoveries,
VII, 3; Kim, XVI.
Souvenirs of France, XXIV, 322; Amos, Jonah, etc.

16"'Love-o'-Women,'" Many Inventions, V, 325-354; many
of the Plain Tales from the Hills, I, and Departmental Dit-
ties and Barrack-Room Ballads, XXV.

1Acts 10:14; "My New-Cut Ashlar," Life's Handicap, IV,
413-414. All Biblical references to Oxford University Press
edition of Authorized King James Version of The Holy Bible.
Kipling and the Children, p. 120.

19"Kipling and the World's Religions," The Kipling
Journal, XV, No. 85 (April, 1948), 3.

to the size of the Old Testament and the New. And while on

one occasion he expressed unwillingness to accept the
divinity of Christ, his dominant tone and themes endorse

the basic Judeo-Christian concepts. Therefore, this study

will assume that his Biblical allusions and other religious

material may be understood ip their generally accepted

sense unless specific reasons are present for doing other-


Ujj Call

Kipling understood the dedication of his talents to

a religiously oriented or prophetic vocation as a response

to a "call," the Source and Overseer of which was God and

the Nature of which was spiritual and comprehensive.

Identification of the Source is stated or implied in at

least one extant letter, in a number of poems and stories,

in speeches, and by a member of his family. In 1897,

Kipling wrote to C. E. Norton: "'I am daily and nightly

perplexed with my own responsibilities before God.'"21 In
"The Explorer," which is the most complete poetic state-

ment of his prophetic vocation, the poet, speaking through

20Carrington p. 138.

2Carrington, p. 248.

22The Five Nations, XXVI, 200-204.

the poem's persona, says: "Then I knew, the while I

doubted--knew His Hand was certain o'er me." As he strug-

gles to decide whether or not to choose an easier way, he

recognizes that God knows the terror that he is experiencing.

The identification of God as the One Who sent the "Whisper"

that drove him forth is reinforced by the allusion to the

Biblical story of the annointing of Saul, with all this

event's overtones of divine mandate, personal reluctance,

and prophetic significance:

Saul he went to look for donkeys, and by God
he found a kingdom!
But by God, Who sent His Whisper, I had struck
the worth of two!

And concluding his wry recital of who will get the credit

for his exploration ("Came, a dozen men together . .

They'll be called the Pioneers!"), he identifies the One

behind the entire enterprise as "my Maker." For, like the

Biblical prophets, Kipling saw all history as the unfolding

of God's design, with his personal role coming at the in-

tended moment in that design:

God took care to hide that country till He judged
His people ready,
Then he chose me for His Whisper, and I've found
it, and it's yours:

Other evidence that Kipling thought of the Source of

his prophetic call as God is found in the implications of

"To the True Romance."23 The framework of this poem is a

knight's chivalric commitment to his lady, but the "Thee"

of the poet's allegiance is a Spirit so creative and power-

ful that it can hardly be less than that manifestation of

the Triune God known as the Holy Spirit.24 Affirming this

interpretation of Kipling's dedication of his talents is a

statement made by his sister, Mrs. Alice Fleming, in 1937,

the year after Kipling's death: "Critics to-day are apt

to forget that Rudyard Kipling felt from the beginning that

the word of the Lord was laid upon him, and that he had to
do that for which he was sent."

In addition to recognition of a Divine Source for his

initial commitment, Kipling understood God as the constant

Overseer of his career. This is most clearly presented in

the poem "My New-Cut Ashlar,"26 which is a prayer addressed

to "Great Overseer." The poet, here speaking in the person

of a stonemason working on a temple, confesses that what-

ever "good"he has accomplished was "compelled" by the

Master's Hand, and that hd is to blame for any failure "to

3Many Inventions, V, xi-xiv.

2Job 33:4; Ps. 139:7-13; Isa. 11:2; John 14:26;
Rom. 15:19; I Cor. 2:10, etc.

"The Annual Luncheoh," The Kipling Journal, No.
42 (June, 1937), p. 63.
26"L'Envoie" to Life's Handicap, IV, 413-414.

meet Thy Thought." He pleads that the "depth and dream"

of his desire and the bitterness of his paths are fully

known to the One "Who . nade the Fire .[ and ]. the

Clay." He proudly claims the divine-human kinship for all

true craftsmen as part of God's eternal design, but he in-

sists that he has a special part to play in building "that

dread Temple of Thy Worth." And he asks that whatever

happens, he may be permitted to keep his special relation-

ship to God, his "vision," that he may thereby remain free

of men's influence--the better to serve them, as God directs.

The religious implications of this poem are strengthened by

its language and allusions. While the term ashlar is found

in Masonic ritual rather than the Bible, and its definition27

makes it a symbol of artistic craftmanship, the basic

metaphor of the poem, the building of a temple dedicated to

God, alludes to both the Hebrews' concern with such a temple,

from Moses to the time of Peter and Paul, and to the New

Testament concept of a living temple of true worshippers,28

most strikingly presented by Peter when he called each

Christian a "lively stone" and Christ the "chief corner

27A squared stone building block finished to a
degree that makes possible the use of little or no mortar.

28I Cor. 3:16; 6:19; II Cor. 6:16; Rom. 12:1.

stone." That Kipling had this reference in mind is

suggested by the poem's line "nought common on Thy Earth,"

which is an echo of "What God hath cleansed, that call not

thou common," the thrice-repeated command of God to Peter

in his vision on a housetop in Joppa.30

That Kipling consistently experienced God's oversight

of his work is the purport of the statement in the letter

to C. E. Norton already cited, a statement which emphasizes

the continuing ("daily and nightly") nature of his commitment

to God-assigned tasks. This divine direction is expressed

fictionally in the words of the artist-protagonist of The

Light That Failed: "you must sacrifice yourself, and live

under orders."31 In the fourth chapter of his autobiography,

in which he explains how he arrived at his choice of the

Empire as one of the major symbols of his work, Kipling admits

that the unusual experiences that fitted him for this choice

were so beyond his choosing, yet so appropriate, that they

could only be explained as "fantastic" and arranged by
"Fate." That his choice of the term fate is not intended

I Peter 2:4-7.

3Acts 10:9-16.
XV, 99.

32 of Mself, XXIV 409.
Something of Myself, XXIV, 409.

to belie his religious meaning is indicated by the fact

that as soon as he explained to his family his "notion"

of trying to "tell to the English something of the world

outside England--not directly but by implication," it was

pointed out to him that he sounded like his grandfathers,

both of whom had been Wesleyan Ministers. Furthermore, it

should be noted here, that his "vast, vague conspectus" was

to be an explanation not of imperialism but "of the whole

sweep and meaning of things and effort and origins through-

out the Empire."33 Hilton Brown catches some of this

religious (rather than merely patriotic) sense of vocation

when he writes: "If, as Kipling fervently believed .

the Empire was not only a duty and a responsibility but a

direct and God-sent means of [national] salvation, then it

was time[ for him] to assume the mantle of Jeremiah and

speak plainly."34

Certainly it was Kipling's conviction that God directed

his work that explains both the tone and the message of his

most prophetic works. His tone of authority in such denun-

ciatory works as "The Islanders," "The City of Brass," and

"Justice," and of pious remonstrance in such poems as

Ibid., 418.

34Brown, p. 106.
Brown, p. 106.

"Recessional," "The Covenant," and "'Non Nobis Domine'"

would be, as some critics have so charged him,35 unaccept-

able presumption or hypocrisy unless he was writing under

the conviction that his insights were truly prophetic. The

introductory poem of his great song of Empire, "A Song of

the English," clearly indicates this point of view. He

calls his people to humble themselves before "the Lord our

God Most High," Who opened the paths to the building of

empire and Who holds His "chosen" people responsible for

effective service that will "let men know we serve the Lord:"

In the final stanza of this prologue he pleads that his

audience will see through his imperfect art "the truth"

which God has shown him "in the ends of all the Earth:"

Allusions to God's making a dry path through the Red Sea for

his chosen people, the Israelites, to the singleness of
of heart with which the Lord must be served, and to the
establishment of a peace acceptable to God, strengthen the

3Richard LeGallienne, Rudyard Kipling: A Criticism,
p. 129; Stewart, p. 52.

3The Seven Seas, XXVI, 3-4.
Ex. 14.

38Matt. 6:21-24.

39Ps. 29:11.

religious implications of this statement of the nature of

his work. This prophetic viewpoint (that of a man working

under the direction of God) is discoverable, to a greater

or lesser degree,in nearly everything he wrote. As T. S.

Eliot noted: "beyond" his remarkable talents and his "mask

of the entertainer" there was "a queer gift of second sight,

of transmitting messages from elsewhere, a gift so discon-

certing when we are made aware of it that thenceforth we are

never sure when it is not present."40

Consistent with Kipling's understanding of God as the

Source of his "call" and as the Overseer of the "vocation"

to which that call led is his indication that the calls was

spiritual in nature. In "The Explorer,"41 the callwas "a

voice, as bad as Conscience," and "everlasting Whisper,"

"His Whisper." In "My New-Cut Ashlar"42 it is "Thy Thought,"

"dream," "vision." In "The Prophet and the Country,"43 a

story which clearly reflects some of Kipling's own experi-

ences, the American "Prophet"-protagonist considers his

message a "revelation" which he received as a "vision." He

4A Choice of Kipling's Verse, p. 22.
The Five Nations, XXVI, 200-204.
Life's Handicap, IV, 413-414.

43Debits and Credits, VIII, 129-148.
Debits and Credits, VIII, 129-148.

foresees the judgment of his people with all the fervor and

awe of a "Fundamentalist," and he feels his suffering is

akin to that of "ancient prophets an' martyrs."44 There is

evidence that in this story Kipling is both the narrator and

the voice behind his protagonist. The narrator uses first

person and refers to the semi-mystical experiences that

Kipling acknowledged having had since the age of twelve.45

Despite the eccentricities and limited education of the

story's prophet, Mr. Tarworth, Kipling asserts his sympathy:

"I had no desire to laugh."46 Mr. Tarworth's message--

"Protect any race from its natural and god-given bacteria

. [and] you automatically create the culture for its
decay, when that protection is removed." --is one facet of

Kipling's own "message," a notable example being the story
"Thrown Away." And his closing description of Mr. Tarworth

attributes to him "a child's awed reverence," not only

recalling Christ's admonition that unless men become "as

little children," they cannot enter the kingdom of heaven,"49

Ibid., 146-147.

45Something of Myself, XXIV, 367.

46Debits and Credits, VIII, 136.


48Plain Tales from the Hills, I, 17-28.

49Iatt. 18:3.

but also reflecting Kipling's own consistent humility

before God.

One of the strongest affirmations of the spiritual

nature of Kipling's call and vocation is the descriptions

of his "fortunate hours." In the beginning of the story

just mentioned, "The Prophet and the Country," he says:

It was long since I had spent a night in the
open, and the hour worked on me. Time was when
such nights, and the winds that heralded their
dawns, had been fortunate and blessed but those
Gates, I thought, were for ever shut.

And the story ends with the fulfillment of this "fortunate

hour" expectation:

. and the wind which runs before the actual
upheaval of the sun swept out of the fragrant
lands to the East, and touched my cheek--as many
times it had touched it before, on the edges, or
at the ends, of inconceivable experiences.5

When he uses a similar incident in "The Vortex,"52 despite

the Rabelaisian humor the story develops, he gives this

"fortunate hour" quite specifically religious implications:

To me, as I have often observed elsewhere, the
hour of earliest dawn is fortunate, and the wind
that runs before it has ever been my most comfort-
able counsellor. . I went to bed at
peace with God and Man and Guest . .

50Debits and Credits, VIII, 134.

51Ibid., 148.

52A Diversity of Creatures, IX, 289-292.

53Ibid., 351.

C. A. Bodelsen feels that in Kipling's fortunate hours "a

veil is drawn apart; reality assumes sharper outlines and

brighter colours, and is experienced with an intensity

beyond that of everyday life." Such experiences, he points

out, are "outside the scope of normal perception," and are

therefore "incommunicable" except in such implications as

the writer can put in the art form he chooses.5 Other

hints Kipling gives of the spiritual nature of his vocation

suggest that these "incommunicable" experiences were some-

times considerably more than pleasant premonitions of coming

events. In "To the True Romance"55 the Spirit he serves

is such that he realizes he cannot know it fully until

he dies; for the present it is "Enough for me in dreams

to see/ And touch Thy garments' hem"56 for "Thy feet have

trod so near to God/ I may not follow them:" This Spirit

teaches "Life all mystery"; it was before Creation, "A

whisper in the Void." His descriptions of heaven and hell

suggest imaginative spiritual experiences that strain even

his talents with language:

54Aspects of Kipling's Art, p. 6.

55Many Inventions, V, xi-xiv.

56Matt. 14:36.

Beyond the path of the outmost sun through utter
darkness hurled--
Farther than ever comet flared or vagrant star-
dust swirled--57

The three nosed-dived at that point where In-
finity returns upon itself, till they folded
their wings beneath the foundations of Time
and Space, whose double weight bore down on
them through the absolute Zeroes of Night and

But the strongest description of his awesome moments of

spiritual awareness--experiences of God's nearness so vivid

as to be painful--is found in the last three stanzas of

"The Prayer of Miriam Cohen":59

Hold us secure behind the gates
Of saving flesh and bone,
Lest we should dream what Dream awaits
The soul escaped alone.

Thy Path, Thy Purpose conceal
From our beleaguered realm,
Lest any shattering whisper steal
Upon us and o'erwhelm.

A veil twixtt us and Thee, Good Lord,
A veil twixtt us and Thee,
Lest we should hear too clear, too clear,
And unto Madness see.

5"Dedication," Barrack-Room Ballads, XXV, 161-162.

58"Unconvenanated Mercies," Limits and Renewals, X,

59Sons from Books, XXVII, 130.
Songs from Books, XXVII, 130.

Not only was the prophetic vocation to which he was

called spiritual in nature; it was comprehensive--

comprehensive with regard to his life, his career, his

art. The poem that most completely states Kipling's
prophetic vocation, "The Explorer," touches each of the

acknowledged characteristics of the prophetic experience:

the prophet must believe in a divine Creator and Controller

of all things, both Friend and Lawgiver of His people; he

must see his fellowmen realistically, with the heightened

spiritual insight that isolates the seer; he must suffer

the agonizing tensions between states of doubt-fear-despair

and hope-discovery-exaltation; he must proclaim the message

his Voice has given him; and while those to whom he speaks

may be blind or stubborn, he must persist, sometimes being

rewarded by a spiritual fulfillment that justifies his

suffering, whether or not he lives to see his insights

vindicated by history.61 The poem relates how, having

listened to God's Whisper but being wary of trying to per-

suade any of his neighbors of its validity, the Explorer

set out on his lonely adventure. Very shortly his sense

60The Five Nations, XXVI, 200-204.

61Dr. Delton L. Scudder, class notes on "Characteris-
tics of Mysticism."

of "call" was tested, when his plains-bred ponies were.

killed by "the Norther," just as persistence (not

miraculous "faith that moveth mountains") had led him

to the pass. Then came the real test, the inner struggle:

"Still--it might be self-delusion--scores of better men

had died--/ I could reach the township living, but . .

I didn't." Even after he chose to go "down the other

side," he had to fight his way through mountain wilderness

and across a desert that drove him crazy and turned his

"toes all black and raw." Reaching the "kingdom" he'd

been sent to find, he surveyed, took samples, estimated

methods of development, then worked his way back over the

same difficult trail. When he presented the news of his

"find," he not only saw others get the credit but realized

that few if any could understand either the physical or

the spiritual experiences he had had. Nevertheless, since

God had judged "His people ready," it was right that they

should inherit this rich new land, God's present to them.

Finally, the Explorer experienced the illuminating realiza-

tion of the meaning of all this to him--the supreme ful-

fillment of his individuality, the establishment of his

spiritual worth in that he had fulfilled the role God had

chosen for him. Kipling's known experiences parallel this

fictitious drama closely enough to strengthen the

interpretation of it as a poetic statement of his total

commitment to a "called" vocation. Early in his life he

recognized the special factors (talents, insights, unusual

experiences) that marked him for a special vocation.62 He

early decided he could explain his "call" (whisper, voice,

vision) only by implication.63 England's physical and

ideological climate (the "Norther") was almost too much

for him, both physically and spiritually. But he chose

to obey his call, to depend upon God rather than men, to

keep going, to present his "findings," and to reaffirm his
faith in God's control of history. In 1897, when he

wrote this poem, the bitterness of Dick Heldar's reaction

to London, in The Light that Failed (1890), had matured

into the prophetic remonstrance of "Recessional" (finishing

"The Explorer" interrupted his completion of "Recessional"66).

Part of the explanation may be found in the passionate

affirmation of his prophetic role revealed in the closing

lines of "The Explorer":

62Something of Myself, XXIV, 409.

63Ibid., 418.

6Carrington, p. 157; "In Partibus," "Letters on
Leave," "The Adoration of the Mage," "A Death in Camp,"
Abaft the Funnel, XXIII, 173-210.

65Carrington, pp. xix-xx.

66Ibid.. p. 264.

God took care to hide that country till He judged
His people ready,
Then He chose me for His Whisper, and I've found
it, and it's yours.

Yes, your "never-never country"--yes, your "edge
of cultivation"
And "no sense in going further"--till I crossed
the range to see.
God forgive me' No, I didn't. It's God's present
to our nation.
Anybody might have found it but--His Whisper came
to me.

The comprehensive nature of the true prophetic vocation--

from the initial dedication, through the costly struggle of

discovery and presentation of the given truth, to the reward-

ing spiritual exaltation--is presented, with varying com-

pleteness and emphases, in a number of other selections.

"My New-Cut Ashlar"67 is a prayer rather than a dramatic

lyric. Its tone is not that of an unprofessional explorer

speaking to frontier people but that of an artist in lonely

communion with his Maker. Here is the expression of that

true humility that only the prophetic--the "chosen"--can

know. The poet knows that he has been given a vision, that

he has been chosen to contribute to the "Temple of [God's]

Worth," and that he is capable of producing the nearly per-

fect work called for. Nevertheless, he knows that his "good"

67Life's Handicap, IV, 413-414.

work was accomplished under the guidance of the Master

Hand, that he must accept the responsibility for all the

poor work, and that his special role in God's purposes does

not protect him against the "bitter paths" into which his

human "Fire" and 'Clay" lead him. His prayer acknowledges

that it is God's Grace that illuminates everything for him,

and he pleads that he may keep both his vision and his inde-

pendence of men--dependence upon God--so that he "may help

such men as need." Again, in "The Prophet and the Country'69

the prophetic experiences are recorded, from the revelation

of a spiritual truth, through the years of total commitment

of time and resources, to the painful rejection by those who

should have understood, the confession of frustrated feelings

and the final experience of a new and rewarding awareness of

the divine-human relationship. In the story "The Knife and
the Naked Chalk" the protagonist knows that he has special

spiritual obligations, laid upon him by his training and his

clear understanding of his people's need (expressed in the

Biblical terms "The sheep are the people."); he undertakes

the necessary but terrifying adventure, alone; he suffers

6Luke 18:19.

6Debits and Credits, VIII, 129-148.
Rewards and Fairies, XIII, 351-372.

nearly unto death and sacrifices one of his eyes for the

instrument of their salvation; they accept his gift by deny-

ing his humanity; the loss of human fellowship forces him to

a greater commitment to his religious role. In "The White

Seal,"71 since the characters are animals, there is no direct

mention of God or religion; nevertheless, the White Seal is

"chosen" by something beyond his will since he is born

different from the other seals; he spends a long period alone

discovering knowledge his fellow seals need; he has to argue

and then fight until he is bloody, to get them to listen to

his "truth"; then he must accept the slowness with which

most of them act upon his message.

In addition to describing in these selections something

of his sense of the completeness of his prophetic dedication

of his life, Kipling has left here and elsewhere evidence

of his understanding of the completeness with which he was

to dedicate his entire career. He was to use his art pro-

phetically, not just for a few public hours of exalted

patriotism or national suffering, but from the beginning to

the end of his career, touching every subject that interested

him, and using every means appropriate to his talent. His

career began early: Schoolboy Lyrics was privately printed

7The Jungle Books, XI, 265-288.


in India in 1881; he began working on the Civil and Military

Gazette, in Lahore, before he was seventeen; he had work

accepted by Mowbray Morris, editor of Macmillan Magazine,

in London, before he was twenty-four.72 Kipling has not

left a record of any single moment or hour that he would

henceforth point to as the beginning of his prophetic voca-

tion, although he does state that his mystical "fortunate

hours" began in his twelfth year.73 Among the Schoolboy

Lyrics there is an "Argument" and a fragment of a "Projected

Poem to be called 'The Seven Nights of Creation,'"7 evi-

dence that in his early teens he was interested in using his

talent on a profound religious subject. Other early works

include the witty attack on religious liberalism "'O Baal,

Hear Us'"75 and the passionate denunciation of man's

propensity to look for substitutes to God's Law "'New Lamps

for Old:'"76 "A Song of the English," the acknowledged

expression of his manifesto of dedication, was published

7Something of Myself, XXIV, 409-410.

Ibid, 367.

7XXVIII, 20-21.

75Other Verse, XXV, 71-76.

76Ibid., 114-117.

in 1893 but conceived at least as early as 1889, according

to Carrington.77 His statement of the sacrificial nature

of worthwhile art, put in the mouth of the semi-autobio-

graphical protagonist of The Light that Failed, was written

in 1890, the year of his literary conquest of London. This

is also the year in which he sent to his parents the telegram

bearing simply Genesis 45:9, appropriating by allusion

not only the triumphs but also the "chosen of God" status of

the Biblical Joseph (Rudyard Kipling's rarely used first

name was Joseph). Among the other works already cited as

significant statements of his sense of prophetic vocation,

"My New-Cut Ashlar," with its remarkably mature understand-

ing of the nature of his work and the price he must pay

for its completion, is the "L'Envoi" of Life's Handicap,

published in 1891; "To the True Romance," with its complex

interpretation of the nature of God's relationship to

creativity and of his own special relationship to this side

of God, and that revelation of awesome mystical experience

"The Prayer of Miriam Cohen" are both dated 1893; and the

dramatically comprehensive prophetic lyric "The Explorer"

was finished in 1897.

7Carrington, p. 210.

78Ibid., p. 158.

Although the evidence of the chronologically compre-

hensive nature of his prophetic vocation for the years be-

tween 1897 and 1930 is found chiefly in the tone with which

he denounced, reassured, or enlightened his readers on

subjects ranging from Biblical incidents to modern warfare

to science fiction, there are selections that reveal facets

of his personal prophetic commitment. "The Palace" and
"Sussex" are both dated 1902. The first poem, faintly

suggesting King David's disappointment at being forbidden to
build the Temple, strongly implies the poet's sense of

his place in a larger Design. While "Sussex" extols the

place that Kipling lived from 1902 until his death and that

he came to love above all other spots, its theme of God's

Design (benign, inclusive, and creative) is not only the

central theme of Kipling's prophetic message but the basic

conviction of his own prophetic vocation. "The Knife and

the Naked Chalk," already cited as a fictional statement

of the comprehensive nature of his sense of prophetic

vocation, is part of pewards and Fairies,1 published in

79The Five Nations, XXVI, 211-212: 213-216.

0II Sam. 7:3-5; I Chron. 28:11.

81 351-372.
XIII, 351-372.

1910. "The Pilgrim's Way" is an undated poem near the end
of The Years Between,82 which includes a few early poems

but chiefly those of the War years, 1914-18. The poem is

an informal prayer, frankly in the voice of the poet, asking

God's assistance in helping his fellowmen to understand
God's love. "The Prophet and the Country,"83 with its

reference to Kipling's "fortunate hours" and his sympathe-

tic portrayal of another "Prophet," was published in 1924.

In 1930 he wrote a story about St. Paul and followed it with

a poem, "At His Execution,"84 the tone of which so strongly

resembles the tone of "My New-Cut Ashlar" and "To the True

Romance" that the poet's sympathy with St. Paul seems

founded on, or at least intensified by, his own experience.

The poem is based on I Corinthians 9:22 ("I am made all

things to all men, that I might by all means save some."),

alludes to "the great Light and Word" which converted Saul

the zealous Pharisee into Paul the dedicated Apostle, and

concludes with the request that the "self" he had sacri-

ficed to the Lord might in the end, when his course is

82XXVI, 395-397.

8Debits and Credits, VIII, 129-148.

84"The Manner of Men," Limits and Renewals, X, 195-
216, 217.

8Acts 9:1-31.

done,86 be restored to him. "'Non Nobis Domine"'"87 Kip-

ling's poem for the Pageant of Parliament in 1934, speaks

for his nation but in a tone of deep personal affirmation

of faith in the "Power by Whom we live--/ Creator, Judge,

and Friend." The consistent awareness of his prophetic role

that these chronologically comprehensive selections imply

is affirmed by Kipling when, in the last chapter of his

autobiography, published posthumously in 1937, his advice

to young writers reveals his own spiritual commitment

throughout his life: "All your material is drawn from the

lives of men. Remember, then, what David did with the

water brought to him in the heat of battle." What David

did was pour "it out unto the Lord."89

Just as Kipling believed that his prophetic vocation

or dedication was comprehensive for his life and for his

career, he believed that it was comprehensive for his art--

both its form and its content. The prophetic viewpoint

was to illuminate, or at least touch, every subject and

every art form he used. That it did so is the implication

II Tim. 4:6-8.

87Miscellaneous, XXVIII, 291.

88Something of Myself, XXIV, 509.
89 Sam. 23:16.
II Sam. 23:16.

of T. S. Eliot's comment already quoted, and such comments

as that of Mrs. Oliphant: "our souls are penetrated not

by the sense of failure, but of the terrible and spendid

warfare of everlasting good against overwhelming yet

temporary evil";90 or that of F. York Powell: "He is an

artist born, but also a born preacher. .. He preaches

Faith, Hope, and Charity. He has enforced, again and again,

the necessary lesson of sympathy with everything that
lives." Authorized editions of Kipling's work published

during his lifetime include five novels, "two hundred and

fifty short stories, a thousand pages of verse, and several

volumes" of speeches, letters, etc.92 Furthermore, he gen-

erally adhered to the artistic rule of never doing the

same thing twice.93 Consequently, within the various

genre of the above list may be found an incredible range
of verse forms and some true poetry; short stories in

the manner of the Latin masters; stories rising from the

9Review of Life's Handicap under "The Old Saloon,"
Blackwood's Magazine, CL (November, 1891), 728-735.
"Rudyard Kipling," English Illustrated Magazine,
XXX (December, 1903), 295-298.

9Carrington, p. xx.

93Something of Myself, XXIV, 503.

94Eliot, A Choice of Kipling's Verse, pp. 8-9.

pages of the Bible; stories in the language and tone of

Muslim thought and lore: stories from the heart and tongue

of the Soldiers Three; satiric tales from "naughty" Simla;

romantic tales of heroic and/or charming Indians, Anglo-

Indians, Americans, and Englishmen; terrifying tales of

Eastern mystery and Western degradation; tales of animals,

machines, prehistory; parables, allegories, fables, and much

more; a picaresque novel, three very different romances,

and a novel of craft. That Kipling intended all of this to

serve God--"one stone the more . in . the Temple

of Thy Worth"--and men--"that I may serve such men as

need"--because God's Grace had shown him "nought common" or

unworthy such use is clearly stated in "My New-Cut Ashlar.'95

That he recognized many would not understand how this could

be is the purport of a letter written to a boy of sixteen

who had written to thank him for stories and poems he liked:

"'If you have found out from my tales that wickedness of

any kind does not pay, you've learned something I have

tried to teach very hard. Of course, I can't go about and

cram a sermon into a tale but I try to get at the same

point obliquely--and so far no one has found me out.'"96

95Life's Handicap, IV, 413-414.

96'Letter to unnamed member of a Thepney Club," The
Kipling Journal, No. 77 (April, 1946), pp. 5-6.

And just how persuaded he was of his prophetic principle

that all forms of art could serve God's purposes is ex-

pressed in the closing lines of "A Recantation'97 (a 1917

tribute to a music hall singer whom his son John and many

other young servicemen "adored" and who sang as usual, for

their sakes, on the night news came of the death of her

own son):

Yet they who use the Word assigned,
To hearten and make whole.
Not less than Gods have served mankind,
Though vultures rend their soul.

His Message

The comprehensiveness of Kipling's prophetic dedication

is reflected in his message. Just as he understood God as

the Source of his prophetic call and the Overseer of the

prophetic vocation to which that call led, a prophetic vo-

cation both spiritual and comprehensive, he consistently

sought to present the message that God was in Reality, the

original and continuous Creator, Designer, and supreme

Power in the universe, and that God's Purpose was Creativity,

the Revelation of Himself, and the Establishment of the

divine-human partnership. Each of these phrases is an

attempt to explain the essentially unexplainable, to express

9The Years Between, XXVI, 360-361.


in ordinary language a spiritual concept that even religious

language has never fully expressed. This concept, a central

theme of all Judeo-Christian prophets, is that the Supreme

Being is as real as, if not more real than the phenomena

men call reality, and that this omnipotent, omniscient,

omnipresent One continually re-establishes the meaning

of life through His Creative Design, i.e., His continuous

creativity, His eternal plans, and His supreme power. It

is this concept that Kipling was convinced God had called

him to reiterate in modes that would reach an audience no

longer (to some extent never) reached by strictly religious

teaching. The truth of his message--"the whole sweep and
meaning of things and effort and origins" as he found it
"in the ends of all the Earth." --was, in simple terms,

that God is concerned with all facets of life. Hence,

Kipling's great range of subject material and artistic

techniques is integral to his prophetic message. Moreover,

his persistent introduction of spiritual overtones and

religious language in artistic or prosaic comment on

subjects often thought inappropriate for such treatment is

likewise integral to his message. That Kipling was deeply

98Something of Myself, XXIV, 418.

"A Song of the English," The Seven Seas, XXVI, 3.

convinced of the importance of this comprehensiveness is

vehemently presented in the short poem "Kaspar's Song in

'Varda.'"100 This poetic parable describes the "children's"

futile efforts to catch a "Psyche" (symbol of both the but-

terfly and the soul); finally, bruised and discouraged,

they listen to their "father," who tells them to "gather

out of my garden a cabbage leaf," under which they would

find "dull grey eggs that, properly fed/ Turn, by Way of

the worm to lots of/ Radiant Psyches raised from the dead."

In the last stanza, the poet bitterly denounces those

spokesmen for institutional religion who would deny God's

concern with cabbages and worms:

"Heaven is beautiful, Earth is ugly,"
The three-dimensioned preacher saith,
So we must not look where the snail and the slug lie
For Psyche's birth .. And that is our death:

A more complete statement of Kipling's prophetic

message--that God is concerned with all facets of life

because He is both the original and the continuing

Creator, because His Design is eternal, and because He is

the supreme Power in the universe--is found in the prayer-

poem "My New-Cut Ashlar."101 In this poem Kipling asserts

1Traffics and Discoveries, VII, 193.

101Life's Handicap, IV, 413-414.

the continuous nature of God's creative relation to life

in the allusion to Eden as a concept essential to all

craft; he implies the centrality of God's design in

the controlling metaphor of the poem, the building of a

temple, and in his identification of his work as one more

"stone" "In that dread Temple of Thy worth"; and he ac-

knowledges God's omnipotence when he calls Him "Great

Overseer," and insists that it is His hand that compels

all achievement. But the capstone of this poetic statement

of the comprehensiveness of God's concern is the Biblical

allusion which identifies his "vision" or message. The

lines "It is enough that, through Thy Grace,/ I saw nought

common on Thy Earth./ Take not that vision from my ken--"

not only add the religious significance of a direct command

of God ("What God hath cleansed, that call not thou

common." 03) to one of the greatest Apostles (Peter), at

a crucial point in Christianity's development (its expansion

to include Gentiles), but they also clearly state that

nothing God has created is beneath His or His prophet's

concern. Again, the inclusiveness and creative nature of

02Acts 10.

10Acts 10:15.

God's concern with what men pall reality is the meaning of
the opening and closing lines of the poem "Sussex":

God gave all men all earth to love

That, as He watched Creation's birth,
So we, in godlike mood,
May of our love create our earth
And see that it is good.105

In "The Necessitarian"106 a special facet of God's compre-

hensive concern is presented. The poet first questions

"Whose hands . empty upon earth . the very Urns

of Mirth," then concludes "it must be . the selfsame

power as went to shape His Planet or His Rose." In the

story "The Conversion of St. Wilfrid,"107 still another

facet of God's relationship to men's reality must be learned

by Eddi, Wilfrid's chaplain, who first fears Meon's clever

pet seal, Padda, as a demon, then acknowledges that God

can and does use even animals in His holy purposes. In

"The Church that Was at Antioch,"08 Kipling has the

Apostles Peter and Paul learn that God has not left

Himself without witnessl09 even in the pagan faith of

105Gen. 1:31.

106Traffics and Discoveries, VII, 161.

107Rewards and Fairies, XIII, 439-460.

1Limits and Renewals, X, 77-99.

109Acts 14:17.

Mithras, an historically "real" expression of the ideas

and ideals of many Roman soldiers.

Kipling's conviction that God was to be discovered

in and understood through Reality he puts in a presumed

quotation used as an introduction to two of his longer

short stories, "On the Gate: A Tale of '16"110 and
"Uncovenanted Mercies" : "If the Order Above be but

the reflection of the Order Below: as the Ancient affirms

who has had experience of the Orders ." Both stories

develop situations that argue that life-after-death is a

continuation of life-before-death and that God's compas-

sionate concern is not limited to the noble and the righteous

but includes such "real people" as ordinary war casualties,

a pair of illicit lovers, and a self-pitying coward.

Kipling was also, in true prophetic fashion, very sure that

God was concerned with governments and cultures, and that

no peoples could ignore His eternal Design or His Power.

In the denunciatory poem "The City of Brass" he outlines

the history of a people who forgot that their "Fates were

made splendid by God," and drunk with pride, "ran panting

Debits and Credits, VIII, 227-249.
Limits and Renewals, X, 323-346.

112The Years Between, XXV, 415-418.
The Years Between, XXVI, 415-418.


in haste to lay waste and embitter forever/ The wellsprings

of Wisdom and Strength which are Faith and Endeavor."

Such people, according to Kipling, are punished by God,

Who grants them what they strove for, "the heart of a

beast in the place of a man's heart," and then removes

them from "the roll of the Nations."

God's working in and through Reality, fulfilling His
creative, eternal Design, is the message of "The Explorer."

An outwardly ordinary man builds his barns and strings his

fences in a "little border station where the trails run

out and stop" and his neighbors assure him there is "no

sense in going further." But when God "judged His people

ready" to develop a new realm, He put this man's spiritual

and physical resources to work preparing the way. While

the Explorer heard God's Whisper, the "people" understood

only "ores," "wood and cattle," "water-transit," and the

like. Nevertheless, this preoccupation with "reality" does

not invalidate God's plan to give them this rich new coun-

try. The poem's allusion to the annointing of Saul adds

to this apparently realistic narrative of American westward

expansion the symbolic significance of the relationship of

God to His prophet and to His people in that moment in

3The Five Nations, XXVI, 200-204.

Hebrew history in which the Children of Israel demanded a

visible king like other nations, and over Samuel's protests,

God granted their wish. And although the Explorer heard a

divine voice, had visions of future cities, and heard

mysterious rivers, he had to walk every step of the way

through mountains, desert, and wilderness, and back again.

So sure was Kipling that God was constantly and creatively

concerned with all facets of life, he had only contempt

for those who saw religion as pious disengagement from

reality. In the poem "The Sons of Martha"114 he praises

those who back their faith-that-moveth-mountains with

appropriate effort, and mocks those who "preach that their

God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose .

for] teach that His Pity allows them to drop their job

when they dam'-well choose." As his Explorer points out,

God takes reality seriously and He expects His followers to

do so, a principle Kipling developed into one of his major

themes, God's Law, a theme to be discussed more fully

later. But Kipling also saw God using reality--as the

Creator, Designer and Sustainer of that reality has a right

1The Years Between, XXVI, 372-374.

15Matt. 17:20.

to do. In the beautiful little poem "The Answer"6

Kipling presents a God Who graciously responds to the

complaint of a fallen rose, a God "Who hears both sun-

dried dust and sun," but a God Who, at the same time,

asserts His role as Creator, Designer and Sustainer of


"Sister, before We smote the Dark in twain,
Ere yet the stars saw one another plain,
Time, Tide, and Space, We bound unto the task
That thou shouldst fall, and such an one should ask."

And in "The Legend of Mirth" the cosmic imagery and

immortal themes blend perfectly, as Kipling's prophetic

message indicates they should, with the mundane duties

of the Four Archangels, Raphael, Gabriel, Michael, and

Azreal, ministering to "The tedious generations of man-

kind . gross, indifferent, facile dust." The point of

the poem is that the Seraph Mirth was sent by God to teach

the Four, chief ministers of His will, to look upon reality

--"tales of the shop, the bed, the court, the street,/

Intimate, elemental, indiscreet"--with a saving sense of


This divine concern with all facets of life is, after

all, the logical concern of the Designer, Creator and

6The Seven Seas, XXVI, 53.

17A Diversity of Creatures, IX, 289-292.

Sustainer of life or reality it is also the direct ex-

pression of God's Purpose, which is creativity, revelation

of Himself, and establishment of the divine-human relation-

ship. While orthodox Christianity tends to emphasize the

Edenic Fall and the re-establishment of a Father-child

relationship through Christ's redemptive sacrifice,

Kipling tends to emphasize the creative divine-human

partnership of Eden and of all creative moments since.

It should not seem strange that an artist would understand

Truth in these terms, and, as subsequent exploration of

Kipling's major themes will show, this creative viewpoint

does not deny Man's propensity to disobedience or the

importance of God's redeeming love. Kipling clearly

identifies God's Purpose in such lines as the following:

Who, lest all thought of Eden fade,
Bring'st Eden to the craftsman's brain--
Godlike to muse o'er his own Trade
And manlike stand with God again.:18
Again, in the opening and closing lines of "Sussex":1

That, as He watched Creation's birth,
So we, in godlike mood,
May of our love create our earth
And see that it is good.

he is emphasizing God's joy in creativity and His desire

to reveal Himself and establish the human-divine relationship

118"My New-Cut Ashlar," Life's Handicap, IV, 413-414.

119The Five Nations, XXVI, 213-214.

in and through Man's acts of creativity. Kipling felt

that too many interpretations of Eden forgot that "Adam

was a gardener, and God who made him sees/ That half a

proper gardener's work is done upon his knees."20 And

too many interpretations of heaven seemed to have missed

the creative nature Kipling saw in it: "And oft-times

cometh our wise Lord God, master of every trade,/ And tells
them tales of His daily toil, of Edens newly made";

or "When Earth's last picture is painted . We shall

rest . Tell the Master of All Good Workmen shall put
us to work anew. That God's Purpose was creativity

is the essence of Kipling's description of the Spirit he

served in "To the True Romance":

Since spoken word Man's Spirit stirred
Beyond his belly-need,
What is is Thine of Fair design
In Thought and Craft and Deed.
Each stroke aright of toil and fight,
That was and that shall be,
And hope too high wherefore we die,
Had birth and worth in Thee.

120"The Glory of the Garden," Later Songs from Books,
XXVII, 292-293; Gen. 2:15.

121"Dedication," Barrack-Room Ballads, XXV, 161-162.

122"When Earth's Last Picture Is Painted," The Seven
Seas, XXVI, 157.

123Many Inventions, V, xi-xiv.

Kipling further declares that this creative Spirit "did'st

teach all lovers speech/ And life all mystery." The

Spirit's Power is that of the divine Creator: "Time hath

no tide but must abide/ The servant of Thy will." It is

also that divinely self-limited power that works through

men: "And Captains bold by Thee controlled/ Most like to

Gods design." In this same complex poetic statement of

Kipling's understanding of the One he served, it is clear

that that One desires to reveal Himself to men, for those

who love Him "prove" His "excellence august" and "discover"

that He is "perfect, wise, and just." Further, He is

"Pure Wisdom," "the Voice" that gives courage to men and

comfort to those who fail; in fact, He is the "Charity,"

"Faith," and "Truth" that men discover in all the signifi-

cant moments of life.

Identifying God's Purpose as revelation of His creative

nature and His desire to maintain a partnership with man is

the intent of Kipling's frequent use of the Eden image. He

is fully in the Christian tradition, especially from the

Renaissance on, when he sees the Garden of Eden as the

prototype of the perfect divine-human relationship: God

walks and talks with Man and Woman, who acknowledge His

supremacy but know themselves as His co-workers. It is

this divine-human partnership ("Godlike to muse o'er his

own Trade/ And manlike stand with God again:") that the

craftsman discovers when he thinks of his work in Eden

terms ("lestall thought of Eden fade,/ Bring'st Eden to the

craftsman's brain.").124 And it is the refusal to maintain

this Edenic relationship, substituting human for divine

supremacy ("We have fashioned a God Which shall save us

hereafter./ We ascribe all dominion to man"), that

destroys nations. In "New Lamps for Old"126 it is the

"Lying Spirit" under the "Eden-tree" that first tempted man

to try substitutes for obedience to God and that tempted

him to all subsequent choosing of false "lamps" that light

"the Path of Toil that runs to the Gate of Death." In "The

Enemies to Each Other,27 a witty, pseudo-Islamic story of

Eden, the first man and the first woman destroy their

paradise by worshipping themselves. And in The Jungle Book

story "How Fear Came" the Creation and the Fall are

retold in terms appropriate to a Jungle Eden as an ex-

planation to Mowgli and all the animals present of how

"My New-Cut Ashlar," Life's Handicap, IV, 413-414.

"The City of Brass," The Years Between, XXVI,

126Departmental Ditties and Other Verse, XXV, 114-117.

1Debits and Credits, VIII, 1-17.

X2I, 63-83.

disobedience to the "Lord of the Jungle"--disobedience

rooted in careless egotism--led to the imperfections of

their reality.

Basic to Kipling's prophetic message that God is

creatively present in man's reality, seeking to re-establish

the divine-human relationship that man's ego and foolishness

have destroyed, is the philosophy that argues that the

spiritual world ("the Order Above") is understandable from

the physical world ("the Order Below"). "On the Gate: A
Tale of '16,"29 which argues this position, is hopeful,

affirmative, even gaily witty in tone, for Kipling sees

God's Purpose of re-establishing the divine-human relation-

ship as an expression of God's Love. All the saints and the

waiting just-deceased souls at the Gate of Heaven rejoice

when St. Peter recalls "Samuel Two, Double Fourteen":

"Yet doth He devise means that His banished be not expelled

from Him." It is unfortunate that so sensitive a critic as

J. M. S. Tompkins sees only the "darkness" of the Abyss130

in Kipling's admission that God's revelation of Himself

is limited to even His "chosen," in this life. Tompkins

quotes Rider Haggard's account of a conversation, between

129Debits and Credits, VIII, 227-249.

130The Art of Rudyard Kipling, p. 196.

Kipling and himself on this subject, in which Kipling

acknowledged occasional experiences of the nearness of

God but that he had found these moments of mystic com-

munion hard to maintain. It was his feeling that this

was meant "'to be so; that God does not mean we should get

too near lest we should become unfitted for our work in

the world.'" How fully Kipling understood too vivid an

awareness of God's presence would be more than human flesh

could stand is the burden of "The Prayer of Miriam Cohen,"132

which closes with the request that there be "A veil twixtt

us and Thee, God Lord . Lest we should hear too clear

. . And unto madness see:" This same need of a limited-
revelation is found in "To the True Romance," which not

only echoes the above line with "A veil to draw twixtt God

His Law/ And Man's infirmity," but points out that he

cannot follow "feet" that trod too "near to God" or "know"

the Spirit he serves until he dies. Nevertheless, Kipling

is sure that such revelation as God wisely permits trans-

forms both "devil and brute . To higher, lordlier

show," and that "Who holds by Thee hath Heaven in fee"

131Lilias Rider Haggard, The Cloak that I Left, pp.

132Songs from Books, XXVII, 130.

1Many Inventions, V, xi-xiv.

and "possess in singleness/ The joy of all the earth."

It is, after all, the realization that God has revealed

Himself ("His Whisper") and used him as a partner in His

eternal Design (when "He judged" the time was ripe, "He

chose me") that brings to "The Explorer" the exaltation

that ends this poetic statement of Kipling's prophetic


The evidence so far cited supports the conclusion that

Kipling understood his career as a prophetic vocation; that

is, the work of one under a divine mandate to interpret his

personal experiences and his times in the light of universal

spiritual truths. He believed the Source of his "call" to

dedication was God, and he acknowledge God as the guiding

Hand in all that he did worthily. He believed that the

nature of his "vocation" was spiritual and comprehensive,

intended to use all of his experiences, his talents, his

insights to present a God-given message that was likewise

spiritual and comprehensive. The message was that God was

vitally involved in all experience, individual and

universal--involved as the original and continuous Creator,

as the eternal Designer, and as the supreme Power of Life.

Furthermore, God's Purpose was to be understood as

Creativity and the Revelation of Himself that He might

continually re-establish the divine-human relationship.

This initial argument for the thesis of this study--that

recognizing the prophetic qualities in Kipling's work

clarifies his intent, enriches his artistry, and resolves

the inconsistencies of lesser bases of analysis--will be

reinforced by an exploration of his use of prophetic

language. Kipling, noted as an artist for his almost-too-

great-concentration and his "passionate exactness of

language,35 found it right to use the language and thought

of the Bible to an extent seldom realized by modern readers

and often slighted by modern critics. A survey of his ex-

tensive and appropriate use of religious material is the

purpose of the next chapter.

Carrington, pp. 370-371; also, Lewis, No. 127, pp.

G. S. Fraser, The Modern Writer and His World,
p. 66.



One of the means of determining an author's chief

characteristics is identifying his language. In the broad-

est sense that the term language may be understood with

regard to literature, that is, as the entire artistic media

of a writer, Kipling's language is strongly prophetic. This

is not surprising when he is dealing with religious subjects,

such as prayers and hymns, or the re-creation of Biblical

situations, or the creation of parallels to Biblical ma-

terial. However, the frequency with which he dealt with

these subjects is a surprise to many and is significant in

determining his religious or prophetic viewpoint. More

surprising and significant, by sheer weight of evidence,

is the consistency with which his artistic insights into

public events, common human experiences, and his own

personal experiences are spiritual insights, insights best

expressed in prophetic language. Identifying the prophetic

qualities in Kipling's language becomes, then, more than a

tabulation of the number of times he uses names and quota-

tions from, or allusions to, the Bible or other religious


material. These elements of his language are, of course,

important, and their number is impressive. But the crucial

element in evaluating the prophetic qualities of his

language is recognition of his purpose, for the purpose

establishes the tone and the importance of the religious

language in each individual work. The following survey

of his works will be concerned with both the amount and the

meaning of this prophetic language; it will also reveal

that Kipling used this language throughout his career.

Kipling's use of Biblical and other religious ma-

terial is rather generally acknowledged. William Lyon

Phelps commented that anyone who knew the Bible well could

hear it in everything Kipling wrote. At the same time,

this notable characteristic is usually misunderstood.

R. Thurston Hopkins attributed Kipling's "love of Biblical

language" to his artistic search for "sonorous expres-

sions." Major-General Ian Hay Beith attributed "his

constant employment in all his writings of the language of

the Bible" to his inherited Puritanism. W. Somerset

"As I Like It," Scribner's Magazine, XCII, No. 2
(August, 1932), 109.

2Rudyard Kipling: A Character Study. Life, Writings,
and Literary Landmarks, p. 73.

"Rudyard Kipling," The Kipling Journal, XVI, No. 89
(April, 1949), 4.

Maugham praised Kipling's use of "the whole language" (the

language of the Bible as well as the language of the

streets), but, blinded by his won philosophical viewpoint,

he insisted that Kipling improved when he discarded "his
unseemly addiction to Biblical phrases." Actually, Kipling

never discarded his religious language or the thought it

so aptly expressed. In his autobiography, which he wrote

near the end of his life (it is unfinished and was published

posthumously), while discussing the power of his Daemon, he

writes: "If ever I held back, Ananias fashion, anything of

myself . I paid for it by missing what I then knew the

tale lacked." The Ananias alluded to is that tragic

Ananias who thought to fool Peter (and God) by secretly

withholding a portion of his possessions when the Early

Church decided to have all its property held in common.

Ananias dropped dead as Peter denounced him--not for his

economic caution but for his attempt "to lie to the Holy

Ghost." Again, discussing whether or not he was

"psychic," which he denies, Kipling alludes to "the road

to Endor." This is a reference to Saul's pathetic recourse

Maugham's Choice of Kipling's Best, p. xxviii.

5Something of Myself, XXIV, 502.

Acts 5:1-5.

to a "witch" at Endor (despite his own decree banning such

practices) when, after Samuel's death, he felt utterly cut

off from God's guidance. Kipling had earlier developed

this situation into a compassionate remonstrance to be-

reaved mothers and widows, in the poem "En-Dor." And in

his advice to young writers, the allusion to David's act

of pouring out the water from the well at Bethlehem has

already been cited in chapter one as evidence of Kipling's

total prophetic commitment. Furthermore, his last collec-

tion of short stories, Limits and Renewals, published in

1932, contains two stories based directly on Biblical ma-

terial, "The Church That Was at Antioch" and "The Manner of

Men"; a story dealing with a little French Catholic church

and its admirable cure, "The Miracle of Saint Jubanus";

a story of Satan, Archangels, and spirits in Hell, "Un-

covenanted Mercies"; and a number of "religious" poems.

These and many other selections will be examined for their

prophetic language and thought in the subsequent survey of

those works that have religious subjects and those works

that have non-religious subjects but spiritual insights.

I Sam. 28:3-25.

8II Sam. 23:16; Something of Myself, XXIV, 510.

Religious Subjects

A survey of Kipling's use of prophetic language begins

most readily with his frankly religious selections:

prayers and hymns, Biblical re-creations, and selections

that use Biblical characterers or situations as a starting

point to develop modern parallels. Of the hymns the most

famous is "Recessional," written as a postscript to the

Imperial Jubilee of 1897. Included in many hymnbooks and a

favorite on occasions of solemn national significance,

"Recessional" calls upon rulers (at the time it was written,

the rulers of history's greatest empire) to remember "Be-

neath whose awful Hand" they hold dominion, and to remember

that their only acceptable offering is "An humble and a

contrite heart," a quotation from Isaiah 57:15. The re-

peated phrase "Lord God of Hosts," which has many possible
sources in the Bible, recalls both the history and the

theocratic viewpoint of the Old Testament. The lines "Lo,

all our pomp of yesterday/ Is one with Nineveh and Tyre:"

carry strong prophetic overtones. Isaiah used the word

pomp to pronounce "woe" upon an apostate Israel ("and

their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp .

The Five Nations, XXVI, 316-317.

10Hos. 12:5; Amos 9:5; II Sam. 5:10; Ps. 80:7; etc.

shall descend into [Hell] ")11 and, later, upon their

enemies ("Thy pomp is brought down to the grave.").12

Ezekiel used pomp as a mark of shame four times. In

the New Testament, "great pomp" is used to describe the

worldly glory of King Herod Agrippa II, before whom Paul

as a prisoner plead the cause of Christ; the story ends

with tragic irony when Agrippa is "almost" persuaded but

retreats from religious decision to routine administrative

matters. Of course the allusions to Nineveh and Tyre

recall the prophetic dooms pronounced upon these two proud

cities; also pertinent is Christ's denunciation of cities

that failed to repeat before His work: "Woe unto thee,

Chorazin: woe unto thee, Bethsaida: for if the mighty

works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and

Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sack-cloth and
ashes." Few readers can be expected to recall all the

specific Biblical references behind each of the religious

terms in this poem, but most readers are strongly aware

11sa. 5:14.

12Isa. 14:11.

1Ezek. 7:24, 30:18, 33:28, 32:12.

1Acts 25:13-26:32.

1Matt. 11:21.

of its prophetic tone. By assuming the point of view that

recognizes God as the Lord of history, of power, of the

ethical law of the universe, and of men's devotion, and

by using the form of a hymn and diction that "sounds"

like the Bible or that actually alludes to Biblical

material, Kipling is using prophetic language--language

that is appropriate to his intent and that enhances his


Another notable poem-hymn or prayer illustrating Kip-

ling's use of prophetic language is "'Non Nobis Domine!'6

written thirty-seven years after "Recessional," for the

Pageant of Parliament, in 1934. This poem uses few if any

specific allusions to Bible verses (the first line of the

last stanza, "O Power by Whom we live--" may echo Acts

17:28, "For in him we live, and move, and have our being"),

but uses throughout traditional religious language: from

its Latin title, repeated in the opening and closing lines

and their translation ("Not unto us the Praise!"), to such

familiar terms as "Judgment," "confess," "godless," "for-

give," "Creator, Judge, and Friend." The poem is a fine

example of Kipling's ability to unite traditional religious

language with his own particular prophetic message, in this

16Miscellaneous, XXVIII, 291.

case his central theme--that God is vitally concerned with

both the physical and the spiritual worlds. The tone of the

poem is also prophetic in that Kipling confesses and peti-

tions for his nation but does so, like a Jeremiah or a
Paul,8 through his own convictions and feelings. The

emphasis of the poem is the honesty and humility Kipling

always felt before God; it also reflects his consistent

concern with achievement or creativity. The "Lest we for-

get" of the earlier national prayer, "Recessional," has be-

come the confession that "we" have forgotten--holding "too

high" the "noise which men call Fame" and the "dross which

men call Gold," and undergoing "hot and godless days"

despite heart-knowledge that only God can crown "All

knowledge or device/ That Man has reached or wrought."

And the awesome power of the "Lord God of Hosts" and the

unspecified threat of the "Lest we forget" of the earlier

poem have been mitigated by identifying the "Power by Whom

we live" as "Creator, Judge and Friend," One who will for-

give, sustain, and lead Men to understand to Whom the

Praise for all achievement really belongs. Another

striking example of Kipling's use of prophetic language

1The Lamentations of Jeremiah.

18Rom. 9:1-3.
Rom. 9:1-3.

(traditional religious diction, Biblical allusion and

in this instance, the form of a hymn) is "The Children's

Song."9 The first and last stanzas of this thirty-two-

line poem are pledges of allegiance to "The Land of our

Birth"; the intervening six quatrains make it quite clear

that men serve their country best by serving God. The

opening line of the second stanza, "Father in Heaven Who

lovest all," (The title under which four stanzas of the poem

appear in many hymnbooks20), is an echo of the Lord's Prayer

and that most familiar of all New Testament verses, John

3:16. "For God so loved the world . ." The third

stanza begins, as do the next four stanzas, with "Teach

us," recalling the Disciples' request of the Master, "Lord,
teach us to pray." Other allusions are made to bearing
22 23
the yoke, making of one's life a worthy sacrifice,
walking with God, and forgiving and loving "all men

neathh the sun"25 Kipling's well-known emphasis on

19Songs from Books, XXVII, 93-94.
2Music by Timothy R. Matthews.

21Lk. 11:1.

22Matt. 11:29-30.

23Rom. 12:1.

24Mic. 6:8, and the entire pattern of discipleship
during Christ's earthly ministry.
25 6:12; Acts 17:26.
Matt. 6:12; Acts 17:26.


manliness is here clearly related to its religious signifi-

cance: youth should learn "steadfastness and careful truth,"

that they may, through God's Grace, lead their Nation to

"The Truth whereby the Nations live"; and they should learn

to "rule" themselves, "Controlled and cleanly," that they

may bring, "if need arise,/ No maimed or worthless sacri-

fice."26 To this message of God's Grace and Truth as cen-

tral to individual and national well-being, he adds his own

high ideal of dedication: that one should look to God

rather than friends for judgment of his achievements and

learn to walk with God, "uncowed/ By fear or favour of the

crowd." Then he reminds his hymn-singers that strength

must be matched with compassion and that "Mirth that has

no bitter springs" is essential to loving and forgiving

others. While the tone of this poem reflects its intent--

instruction of children rather than the admonition of a

nation--it demonstrates, as do the other hymns cited, the

appropriateness and effectiveness of Kipling's prophetic


Kipling wrote a number of other poems that are

identified by their titles and/or their form as selections

which might be expected to use prophetic language. "Hymn

Lev. 22:21-22.

Before Action"27 is a prayer and a hymn to be used by

military men before going into battle. In language

reminiscent of Old Testament battle accounts, it describes

the approaching clash, then prays "Jehovah of the Thunders,/

Lord God of Battles, aid:" These titles for God are slight

variations of the familiar descriptions the "Lord of Hosts"

and the Lord who sends thunder or speaks through the thun-
der. Confessing their previous negligent or rebellious

attitudes, the petitioners beg God's mercy, not only for

themselves but also for the benighted heathen who have

answered their call for assistance, men who kneel "At

altars not Thine own,/ Who lack the lights that guide us,/

Lord, let their faith atone." In realistic knowledge of

themselves and warfare, the men pray to be kept from such

evils as "panic, pride and terror/ Revenge that knows
o i 29
no rein--"29 and that they may steadfastly choose "To

taste the lesser death."30 One stanza uses Catholic

tradition to appeal for the gracious intervention of the

2The Seven Seas, XXVI, 70-71.

28Ex. 9:23; I Sam. 7:10, 12:17-18; II Sam. 22:14;
Ps. 18:13, 24:8, 77:18, 71:7, 104:7; Isa. 29:6; John 12:29.
I Sam. 13:6.

3Matt. 10:28.

Virgin Mary; the final stanza suggests a modern version of

the Children of Israel facing their enemies under the

leadership of Samuel.31 Like many Old Testament prophets

and the Militant Christian Church, Kipling believed that God

was involved in the battles of his people; he also believed

that God was concerned for individual men and that His re-

sponse was dependent upon the spiritual attitudes of those

who sought His aid. Consequently, his prophetic language

is appropriate and effective, Another traditional form of

religious poetry, Christmas'carols, gives both language
and meaning to "A Carol." This poem, in the manner of an

old English carol, follows the story "The Tree of Justice,"

one of Kipling's re-creations of history. In keeping with

its "setting," it reflects the harshness of peasant life

as well as the simplicity of peasant religious concepts.

The first stanza:

Our Lord Who did the Ox command
To kneel to Judah's King,
He binds His frost upon the land
To ripen it for Spring,
To ripen it for Spring, good sirs,
According to His Word.
Which well must be as ye can see--
And who shall judge the Lord?

3I Sam. 12:24, 13:5.

32and Fairies XIII, 543-544.
Rewards and Fairies, XIII, 543-544.

sets the pattern for the rest of the poem; the last stanza

includes a request for God's blessing upon the house before

which the carollers sing, and upon all who "walk in

honesty . ./ Of thought and deed and word:" While the

poem uses no Biblical allusions, it is throughout a blending

of the practical and spiritual that is characteristic of

Kipling's prophetic message and language; for example:

"God . guard the fens from pirate folk,/ And keep us

all from sin." One other example of Kipling's writing for

religious music, this time a Te Deum, is "The Supports."33

The sub-title, "Song of the Waiting Seraphs," indicates

the presumed setting, Paradise, and dramatizes the message,

that God is to be thanked for "the burden on our backs, the

weather in our faces. . the petty creeds/ That prescribe

in paltry needs/ Solemn rites to trivial deeds and, by small

things, save us'" The seraphs are Powers, Glories, Toils,

Gifts, Services, Patiences, Faiths, Hopes, and Loves; they

sing "To Him Who bade the Heavens abide, yet cease not from

their motion." Once again, by his use of a recognized

religious form, by his use of religious language (there is

only one specific Biblical allusion, to the miracle of

Debits and Credits, VIII, 251-253.

loaves and fishes ), and by his consistent presentation of

a spiritual message, Kipling has united his art and pro-

phetic language.

Another group of poems that contain elements of

prayer use prophetic language to deepen their sincerity as

well as identifying the religious point of view of their

author. "My New-Cut Ashlar" and "The Prayer of Miriam
Cohen" have already been cited as revelations of the

poet's prophetic dedication. The first poem includes the

traditional elements of Christian prayer: acknowledgment

of God's supremacy, confession of personal inadequacies,

gratitude for blessings, petition for continued guidance.

It uses the metaphor of a stone mason praying over his work

on a temple. Since the temple is identified as "that dread

temple of Thy Worth" and the prayer is addressed to "Great

Overseer," "Master" and "Thou . Who . made the

Fire . [and] the Clay," the temple is clearly not a

pagan one but one reminiscent of Biblical temples--real

34Matt. 14:15-21; Mk. 6:30-44t Lk. 9:10-17, John 6:1-
Life's Handicap, IV, 413-414.

3Songs from Books, XXVII, 130.

and figurative --as well as symbolic of God's eternal

Design for history. Allusion is made to the divine-human

relationship of Eden and its pattern for all subsequent

creativity. The "vision" which this artist-craftsman-

prophet cherishes was made possible by God's "Grace" and is

described by allusion to Peter's vision on the housetop
in Joppa.8 The second poem, "The Prayer of Miriam Cohen,"

is addressed throughout to "Good Lord" and requests pro-

tection against too vivid an awareness of divine activity.

Aside from the otherwise unidentified Miriam Cohen of the

title, the poem suggests that Kipling himself had had ex-

traordinary mystical experiences that could only be ex-

pressed in such comprehensive religious concepts as "Thy

Works," "Thy Path, Thy Purpose," and such poetic images

as "straining skies" and "trampling stars." References to

the martyrs (who had faced "the wrath of Kings/ The faggot

and the sword"), to life after death ("what Dream awaits/

The soul escaped alone"), and to the awesome experience of

hearing a divine voice ("shattering whisper"), and the

passionate appeal for "A veil twixtt us and Thee, Good

37The Temple at Jerusalem, center of Hebrew faith;
the "spiritual house" of which each Christian is a living
stone and Christ the corner stone, I Pet. 2:4-8.

3Acts 10:9-28.

Lord . Lest we should hear too clear . And unto

madness See!" all add up to prophetic language--the diction,

feeling and meaning necessary to express the experiences of

one uniquely under divine mandate. Two other peoms that

reflect prophetic commitment in their intent and language

are "A Pilgrim's Way"39 and "Hymn of Breaking Strain."40

The first of these peoms, "A Pilgrim's Way," despite its

witty, conversational tone ("I do not look for holy saints

to guide me on my way,/ Or male and female devilkins to

lead my feet astray."), is a prayer of commitment. It

includes humble confession:

( . none are more amazed than I when I
by chance do right),
And I will pity foolish men for woe their sins
have bred
(Though ninety-nine percent of mine I brought
on my own head).41

and affirmation of belief:

But when I meet with frantic folk who sinfully
There is no pardon for their sin, the same I
will not spare
Till I have proved that Heaven and Hell which
in our hearts we have
Show nothing irredeemable on either side the

39The Years Between, XXVI, 396-397.
4Miscellaneous, XXVIII, 298-299.

41Rom. 3:23.

42Rom. 8:35-39.

The poet asks to be purged of "all heresies of thought and

speech and pen" that would cause him to "judge" others
other than as he himself is judged and that he "may sing

of Crowd or King or road-borne company" with the "single

faith in Life and Death and to Eternity: 'Thy people,

Lord, Thy people, are good enough for me'"44 The poem's

concern with such realistic matters of human relationship

as boredom, attempts to impress others, doing "random

wrong" or "random good," and hate, pride and judgment should

not obscure its intent, a prophetic reiteration of the First

and Second Commandments. In like manner, the wry tone of

the beginning of "Hymn of Breaking Strain" may obscure the

passionate prayer with which it closes. Dated 1935, the

poem may reflect Kipling's suffering from the ailment that

marred his last years; what it surely reflects is his life-

long habit of uniting the realistic and the spiritual and

using prophetic language to express his conclusions. The

poem ruefully comments that the breaking point is carefully

determined and recorded for steel and other building

materials, but not for Man. Nevertheless, since Man is the

Matt. 7:1-5.

Lk. 10:27-28.


only part of Creation that fails and knows he fails, this

dear-bought knowledge is a precious link with the Power

Whose paths Man seeks, is proof that God's "ways are true,"

and is the measure of Man's humanity, because, "In spite of

being broken," he builds anew. While the opening stanzas

speak of textbooks and "Gods" who have no "feeling/ Of

justice toward mankind," the tone is increasingly religious,

building from the somewhat irreverent "Sons of Adam,"

through allusions to God's command to Adam and Eve to subdue

the earth and exercise dominion over all living things and

confession of Man's blindness to "each new miracle" this

God-given power achieves, to the supplication of the final

stanza to "the veiled and secret Power" Who can sustain man

in his "hour/ Of overthrow and pain," and illuminate the

experience so that he has the courage to build again.

Three other poems that reveal themselves as prayer-

poems illustrate Kipling's use of prophetic language:

47 ,48
"The Settler,"47 "McAndrew's Hymn,48 and "To the True

Romance."49 The first of these was written to commemorate

4Gen. 1:28.

4The Five Nations, XXVI, 271-273.

48The Seven Seas, XXVI, 23-31.

49Many Inventions, V, xi-xiv.
Many Inventions, V, xi-xiv.

the end of the South African War, in May, 1902, and is a

pledge of reconciliation and peacemaking,50 with the last

two stanzas being a prayer for God's blessing upon these

efforts. The most familiar marks of prophetic language,

Biblical diction ("atone," "love," "shall redeem," "sin")

and Biblical allusion ("The dead must bury their dead,"5

"the bread we eat in the sweat of our brow," and "Bless

to our use the rain and the sun" ) are used throughout

the poem. The emphasis is upon the natural forces of seed-

time and harvest, the enemies of these processes (hail,

locust, murrain, flood), and God's intention that man and

the land should find healing in working with these forces

to "feed with our land's food/ The folk of all our lands:"

"McAndrew's Hymn" is a long dramatic monologue between

the Scotch engineer and his Calvinistic but approachable

Lord, Who not only guides McAndrew's machines but McAndrew

himself. McAndrew has time during the "middle watch" to

discuss with the Lord his memories, his irritation with

those who don't understand the spiritual nature of machines,

Matt. 5:9.
Matt. 8:22.
Gen. 3:19.

5Matt. 5:45.


and his faith in the divine-human creative partnership. In

addition to the frequent addressing of his remarks to the

Lord, McAndrew finds it as natural to describe his machines

as "singin' like the Mornin' Stars for the joy that they

are made," or to describe his passengers as travelling

"from Grace to Wrath--to sin by folly led" as he does to

speak of "coupler-flangs" or "spindle-guide" or to call one

who sees no "romance" in steam "Damned ijjit:" This poem

is a well-known example of Kipling's successful blend of

the physical and the spiritual, of crafts and people, of

art and message--a notable illustration of his prophetic

language. "To the True Romance" has already been cited as

a poetic statement of Kipling's prophetic vocation. While

it poses as a chivalric pledge of a knight to his "lady,"

the language reveals the poet's object of allegiance to be

the Spirit identified in the Bible as the Holy Spirit, part

of the Triune God. This identification is accomplished by

the prophetic language. Some of the allusions are to
54 55
touching Jesus' garment hem,54 the child-like spirit,55

5Matt. 9:20-21, 14:36; Mk. 5:27; Lk. 8:44.

Mk. 10:15; Lk. 18:17.


singleness of heart,56 Charity,57 Faith,58 and Comforter.59

The Spirit existed before Creation, "or yet the Lights

were set,/ A whisper in the Void."60 Time and tide are

subject to Its will,61 and under Its guidance men "fashioned

Heaven and Hell:"62 It not only taught "all lovers speech/

And Life all mystery," but It rules all schools and communi-

cates to "The children wise of outer skies" news of men's
activities. And It is the "veil" that must exist between

"God His Law/ And Man's infirmity."64 The Spirit is Master

of all "fair design/ In Thought and Craft and Deed"; to

deny It is to blaspheme, while those who "adore" It find It

"perfect, wise and just." In this work prophetic language

is not only appropriate, it is the key to the poem's meaning,

5Acts 2:45; Matt. 6:22; Lk, 11:34; Eph. 6:5; Col.

57I Cor. 13.

58Heb. 11:1.

59John 16:7.

6Gen. 1:1-2.

6Ps. 24:1-2.

Ps. 139:7-8.

Ps. 19:1-9.

64Ex. 33:20.

establishing it as a prayer of adoration and commit-


Selections other than hymns and prayers that naturally

make use of prophetic language are Kipling's re-creations

of Biblical or other religious situations. An outstanding

example of his re-creation of a Biblical situation is "The

Church That Was at Antioch,"65 based on Acts 11:19-30 and

Galations 2:11-16. The story is told chiefly in the dia-

logue of Lucius Sergius, Prefect of Police of Antioch, and

his fine young nephew, Valens, who has recently arrived

from Constantinople to serve under him. Both are high-

born Romans who make ideal administrators; both must of-

ficially render service to the Latin Trinity, Jupiter,

Juno, and Minerva, but find this religion unsatisfying

and are secret followers of Mithras, "a soldier's religion."

A hasty reading of this story might lead one to conclude

that Kipling is attacking Christianity through Valens'

assertion that every ceremony and symbol of the Christians

was "stolen from the Mithras ritual." But the sympathetic

portrayal of Peter and Paul and their argument over separate

churches (for Jew and Gentile) or "one Church" not only

creates a realistic interpretation of Paul's "But when

65Limits and Renewals, X, 77-99.
Limits and Renewals, X, 77-99.

Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face,"66

but clearly identifies the theme of the story as "God hath

made the world and all things therein . And hath made

of one blood all nations of men . That they should seek

the Lord, if apply they might feel after him, and find him,

though he be not far from every one of us,67 the central

theme of Paul's sermon on Mars' hill--also Kipling's chief

prophetic theme. Kipling puts in Valens' mouth such

pregnant lines as "Gods do not make laws, They change

men's hearts. The rest is the Spirit."68 There are
allusions to Peter's denial of Jesus, to Paul's conver-

sion, to his journeys, to his work as a tent maker,72

and to Christ's words upon the cross: "Forgive them for

they know not what they do."73 The closing lines recall

66Gal. 2:11.

6Acts 17:22-27.

"The Church That Was at Antioch," Limits and
Renewals, X, 88.

69k. 14:66-72.

7Acts 9.

71Acts 13, 14, 15:36-41.

Acts 18:3.

73Lk. 23:34.

Peter's housetop lesson in God's redemptive work, already

cited (in the discussion of "My New-Cut Ashlar") as a key

to Kipling's prophetic message. Kipling has used prophetic

language to effectively unite his artistic talent for creat-

ing realistic detail and convincing humanity with his inter-

est in Biblical "prophets" and their messages. A second

story reflecting his interest in Paul is entitled "The
Manner of Men" and quotes under its title "If after

the manner of men I have fought with beasts," part of

I Corinthians 15:32. The story itself is based quite

closely on Acts 27:1-28:11, the account of Paul's adventures

enroute to Rome by ship, including shipwreck on Malta, but

all is seen through the eyes of three seamen: the former

captain of the ship that was wrecked, now a Roman port in-

spector; the second-in-command on the doomed ship, now

commander of a port guard-boat; and the young Spanish

captain of a grain ship approaching Marseilles, to whom

the other men tell Paul's story. Despite their persistent

reference to Paul's faith as "philosophy," both men

acknowledge Paul's courage, and the commander of the

guard-boat, whom Paul nursed through dysentery while they

7Acts 10.

7Limits and Renewals, X, 197-216.

were on Malta, confesses to a deeper respect. Allusion is

made to Paul's many afflictions (stripes, stonings, im-

prisonments, etc.)76 and, obliquely, to his tentmaking,77

but the emphasis is upon his fearlessness before the

threat of "Beasts" (the allusion of the title), and the

intent of the story seems to be an exploration of the im-

pact of one of God's prophets upon the realistic world

outside the church--the "congregation" for which Kipling

felt his message was intended. With less sympathy, in fact

with ironic detachment, Kipling creates another of Paul's

encounters with the worldly-wise-but-spiritually-foolish
in "Gallio's Song,"78 which quotes Acts 18:17 under the

title: "And Gallio cared for none of those things." What

Gallio could not bother with was the Gospel; he also ignored

such "trifles" as "the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief

ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment

seat." Kipling repeats the damning line: "I care for none

of these things," and suggests the issues with "Whether the

God descend from above/ Or the Man ascend upon high," and

"touching your clamour of 'Conscience' sake." As in the

76II Cor. 11:23-27.

Acts 18:3.

7Actions and Reactions, VIII, 531-532.

Bible account, Paul is not allowed to speak, but the

language is prophetic both in its dependence upon a Bible

situation and in its denunciation of those, particularly

in public office, who ignore religion.

Kipling used prophetic language with obvious appropri-

ateness in re-creations of other religious material. "Our

Lady of Sackcloth"79 is a poem, identified as an Ethopian

tale "founded on Brit. Mus. MS. Orient No. 652, Folio 9,"

about an aged priest, "Tongue-tied, feeble, and old,"

whose congregation's complaints about his mumbling result

in his isolation from the adoration of Mary that makes his

life meaningful. His faith and suffering earn him

miraculous service and honor from the Virgin, appearing as

a desert-dweller. The poem's language reveals Kipling's

sympathy with any man sincerely in search of spiritual

values and his prophetic conviction that God is likewise

compassionately responsive to human spiritual need in the

terms of the individual's real situation. This same

prophetic conviction determines the satiric tone of

"Tomlinson," the optimistic tone of "On the Gate: A

Tale of '16," and the fabular manner of "How Fear Came."

7Miscellaneous, XXVIII, 300-303.

"Tomlinson"80 is a long dramatic poem relating the con-

frontation of Tomlinson with St. Peter at Heaven's Gate and

the Devil at Hell's Gate. Both gate-keepers refuse to

admit Tomlinson because he has never done anything, good or

bad: all his experience is vicarious. While much of the

poem's dialogue involves such ironic wit as the Devil's

thoughtful balancing of "Holy Charity" (for Tomlinson's

shivering spirit) and "his own good name," the last line

identifies the poem's prophetic point, that "the God" one

takes "from a printed book" is inadequate for anyone with

a soul. "On the Gate: A Tale of '16"81 is based on the

same religious tradition--that St. Peter guards Heaven's

Gate--but the language is more comprehensively prophetic

and the key to the story is a verse of Scripture: "Samuel

Two, Double Fourteen," as Peter calls it, which ends "Yet

doth He devise means that His banished be not expelled

from Him:" Allusions are made to Peter's denial of his

Lord,82 to Judas' betrayal of Jesus,3 to "the Importunate

80Barrack-Room Ballads and Other Verse, XXV, 300-306.

8Debits and Credits, VIII, 227-249.
2Mk. 14:66-72.

8Matt. 26:47-50, 27:3-10.

84 85
Widow," to Calvin's Institutio, and to Jesus' promise

of "many mansions";86 and the "pickets" assisting Peter

with the overwhelming numbers of war-dead include John

the Beloved Disciple, Luke, Mary Magdalene, a redeemed

Judas Iscariot, John Calvin, Joan of Arc, and Shakespeare,

while the theme of universal hope of salvation is poignantly

dramatized in the response of the celestial being Azreal--

Death--who alone of all living spirits is doomed to eternal

death. Although the story begins with pointed satire of

traditional, middle-class funerals, its prophetic language

is not only effectively used but the key to understanding

its serious intent. "How Fear Came"88 illustrates both

Kipling's persistent interest in religious themes and

his artistic ability to clothe them in different forms

of prophetic language. The frame tale of this Jungle Book

story presents Mowglie and his friends at the almost dry

Waingunga River. When the outlaw Shere Khan pollutes the

water with the blood of his last kill--man--Hathi, the

8Lk. 18:1-5.

85John Calvin, Christianae reliqiouis institution

86John 14:2.
I Cor. 15:26; Rev. 21:4.

8The Jungle Books, XI, 63-83.

elephant, tells a jungle version of the major events in

Genesis 2:8-4:15: Creation, the Fall, and the first murder.

A jungle Adam (the First Tiger, who is herbivorous) is left

in charge of the jungle Eden by the "Lord of the Jungle";

his undisciplined actions introduce death and fear; he flees,

to hide from his "Lord": when he returns, stripes (the Mark

of Cain) are placed on him, but he is promised that his

punishment will not be more than he can bear; nevertheless,

from then on there is enmity between man and beast. Thus,

prophetic language addresses itself successfully to telling

children a Bible "truth" in terms of its universal applica-


There are a great many examples of Kipling's use of

prophetic language in poems and stories that present a

modern situation in terms of a Biblical parallel. Some of

these selections identify their prophetic nature in the

title. For example, "The Story of Uriah89 and "Delilah"90

are poems relating Simla versions of these age-old stories

of betrayal, In the first, Jack Barrett was sent to

unhealthy Quetta, in September, and predictably died within

a month. His wife was left in Simla, where she mourned his

Departmental Ditties, XV, 13-14.

9Ibid., 11-12.

death for "Five lively months at most." The poet comments

that "when the Last Great Bugle Call" sounds, he would not

like "to be the man/ Who sent Jack Barrett" to his death.

The poem is based upon the story of David's taking of
Bathsheba and having her husband, Uriah, killed;91 it quotes

under its title the beginning of the prophet Nathan's de-

nunciation of David's sin: "There were two men in one city;
the one rich and the other poor,"92 not only recalling all

that God's displeasure meant to David, but also clearly

establishing the poet's prophetic viewpoint. The second

poem gives the name of Samson's deceptive mistress to a

Simla "lady," Delilah Aberyswith, "not too young . With

a thirst for information and a greater thirst for praise."

Since much of the poem deals with how a certain "depraved"

Ulysses Gunne, who earned his money writing for papers,

gave this Delilah the attention she craved and coaxed from

her a viceroy's secret, the poet is giving the Biblical

story a prophetic interpretation that does not lessen the

foolishness of the Samson-Viceroy, but suggests that both
Delilahs were victims of their own evil ways. Two other

9II Sam. 11.

92II Sam. 12:1.

Gal. 6:7.

poems portray modern versions of Bible stories but comment

satirically on the too shallow piety that approves the

Biblical conclusion in words but not in practice. "Cain
and Abel,"9 sub-titled "A Cattle Song," retells the

Genesis story of the first fratricide95 in terms of cattle

rather than flocks, and "corn" (British term for grain)

rather than "fruit of the ground." The issue of the fatal

conflict is not ritual sacrifice but water rights during

drought. Since Abel's cattle destroyed Cain's crops (there

really wasn't water enough for both), and Abel was as ready

to strike as Cain, the poet questions the fairness of the

final judgment--revealing to the reader his own mixed

values. "The Prodigal Son"96 is, according to its sub-

title, a "Western Version" of the parable Jesus told the

Pharisees, obviously denouncing their "older brother" role

of unloving self-righteousness.97 Kipling's Prodigal

rejects his reinstatement into the security and refinement

of his home because he prefers his hard-won independence

and the exercise of his new skill in the "Yards" to the

9Miscellaneous, XXVIII, 292-293.

9Gen. 4:1-15.

96Songs from Books, XXVII, 100-101.

97Lk. 15:11-32.

gloomy advice of his father, the prying concern of his

mother, the sullen resentment of his brother, and the

hypocritical comments of the servants. Considerably further
from the original story for which it is named is Kipling's

story "Naboth," which he clearly states at the beginning

is "an allegory of Empire." The poor native trader named

in the title actually takes advantage of the kindness

extended to him by the Anglo-Indian narrator, usurping his

garden, demoralizing his servants, polluting the area with

sewage, and fatally injuring the narrator's horse. In

addition to the obvious argument against Liberal misin-

terpretations of the administration of empire, there is an

implication that the Biblical Naboth's adherence to tra-

dition may have been a courteous mask for other-than-

admirable motives. One of Kipling's consistent prophetic

emphases was honest recognition of the complex nature of


Prophetic language heavily dependent upon Biblical

incident was a favorite medium for Kipling to express his

denunciation of modern events or people. "Gehazi,"100

98I Kin. 21:1-24.

9Life's Handicap, IV, 396-402.

10The Years Between, XXVI, 393-394; II Kin. 5.

by its title and internal references, re-creates for a

corrupt English judge0 the bitter end of the story of

Naaman, Captain of the Hosts of Syria, and his healing from

leprosy under the instruction of Elisha. Elisha refused

all payment, but his covetous servant, Gehazi, deceitfully

secured two talents of silver and two changes of raiment,

for which conduct he received, at Elisha's sentencing, the

leprosy of Naaman. With this implied prophetic authority,

Kipling condemns his "Gehazi" with the last words of II

Kings 5: "a leper white as snow." Kipling's prophetic

judgment of the Catholic Church's "sins" during World War I

he clothes in a parallel to Peter's denial of Christ,1

entitled "A Song at Cock-Crow.03 First recalling the

Fisherman Peter's perfidy--out of fear--the poem moves to

the Peter who is "Fisher of Men . With the Crown on his

brow and the Cross on his shoe," whose manifold denials of

his Lord are wickedness for which "The Father took from him

the Keys and the Sword,/ And the Mother and Babe brake his
Kingdom in two." His reaction to the foolish liberalism

1Rufus Isaacs, Carrington, p. 410.

02Mk. 14:66-72.

1The Years Between, XXVI, 402-403.

104att. 16:18-19.

represented by the news items: "An attempt should be made

to prepare a moral text-book based upon the fundamental

principles of natural religion, such as may be taught in

all Government and non-Government colleges" (Resolution

of the Indian Government), he clothed in a devastatingly

satiric masque, "'0 Baal, Hear Us''05 Appropriate allusions

are made to Dagon, idol-god of the Philistines, who was

humiliatingly thrown on his face when his followers dese-
crated the Arc of the Covenant, as well as to such

modern heresies as Robert Elsmere (1888), Mrs. Humphry

Ward's popular novel about a clergyman's loss of faith in

the divinity of Christ. Mrs. Ward was the niece of Matthew

Arnold, poet and critic who popularized the term Philistines

for those who pretend to culture; Arnold also was convinced

that all mankind needed, in place of the traditional dogma

of Redemption, was the "sweetness and Light" of Culture.107

Other heretical intellectuals the masque mocks for offering

men a substitute for religion are listed in the following


1Departmental Ditties and Other Verse, XXV, 71-76.

I061 Sam. 5:3-4.

1Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy (1869).

Take a little Rabelais--just a garlic hint;
Out of Locke and Bacon steal something fit to print.
Grind 'em down with Butler, add morsels of Voltaire;
Don't forget the 'Precious Fools' sketched by Moliere'

Robert Elsmere, Mallock, Hume, Gibbon (on his knees).
Knock the Ten Commandments out if they fail to please;
Substitute the Penal Code--sections underlined.
There you have a perfect book to form the infant

This selection not only argues for Kipling's basic orthodoxy

but illustrates the comprehensiveness of his prophetic

language. German atrocities during the War Kipling casti-

gated in the story "'Swept and Garnished,'"108 based on
Christ's parable on the worthlessness of self-reformation.

Frau Ebermann's delirious attempts to sweep and garnish her

room that "Our dear Lord when He came might find everything

as it should be" suggest a number of references, all
demanding a sincerity of faith Frau Ebermann does not have.

And to admonish Americans against boasting of their part

in World War I, Kipling retells the parable of the laborers

in "The Vineyard," found in Matthew 20:1-16. This poem

demonstrates the blending of Biblical language and poetry

that is such an outstanding characteristic of Kipling's

Diversity of Creatures, IX, 361-372.

109Matt. 12:43-45; Lk. 11:24-28.

ll0Lk. 19:1-10; John 14:24; Rev. 3:20.

illDebits and Credits, VIII, 43.

language. Here are verses 6, 7, 11, and 12, and the first

stanza of the poem:

And about the eleventh hour he went out, and
found others standing idle, and saith unto them,
Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say
unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He
saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard;
and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
. And when they [that had been first hired)
had received it, they murmured against the good-
man of the house, Saying, These last have wrought
but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto
us, which have borne the burden and heat of the

At the eleventh hour he came,
But his wages were the same
As ours who all day long had trod
The wine-press of the Wrath of God.

The poem also illustrates the courage with which Kipling

added new dimensions to traditional interpretations of

Scripture by applying old truths to new situations: the

Biblical parable was told by Jesus to rebuke all status-

seeking among his disciples; Kipling's message is that while

the Lord rebuked the complaints of those who sought special

recognition in that they had labored all day, His instruc-

tion in spiritual honesty applies equally to those who

have labored only an hour.

Spiritual Insights

These examples of Kipling's use of prophetic language

with religious subjects are important to establish the


frequency with which he expressed his talent and his message

in a traditionally prophetic manner; more significant in

establishing his total prophetic orientation are the many

examples of his use of prophetic language to express his

artistic insights--thereby making them spiritual insights--

into public events, common human experiences and his per-

sonal experiences and convictions. Several of the selec-

tions already cited reveal his consistent reaction to

public events as spiritual and prophetic: "Recessional,"

"'Non Nobis Domine:'" "Gehazi," "The Settler," "The Vine-

yard," etc. The distinction is not easily made between a

religious subject seen in terms of public events and public

events seen in terms of a religious point of view. Further-

more, his use of prophetic language in his response to pub-

lic events varied from selections rich in allusion and

religious metaphor to works depending upon form or a single

religious reference to establish the work's prophetic


Outstanding examples of his comment on public events

in prophetic language are "The Islanders," "The City of

Brass," "The Choice," and "The Covenant." "The Islanders"2

is famous (or infamous, depending upon one's point of view)

112The Five Nations, XXVI, 258-262.
The Five Nations, XXVI, 258-262.

for its attack on the smug insularity of England's ruling

classes and the people's unrealistic concepts of empire.

Along with his own freshly created and unforgettable lines,

such as "Then ye returned to your trinkets; then ye con-

tented your souls/ With the flannelled fools at the wicket

or the muddied oafs at the goals," the poem bristles with

allusions that carry the weight of history and prophetic

judgment: "Ye forced them glean in the highways the straw
for the bricks they brought"; "Then were the judgments
114 115
loosened"; "Yet ye were saved by a remnant";1 "Also

your gods are many; no doubt but your gods shall aid./

Idols of greasy altars built for the body's ease;/ Proud

little brazen Baals ."116 He closes the poem with an

allusion to Paul's condemnation of the unresponsive Jews

in Corinth:

And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed,
he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your
blood be upon your own heads, I am clean: from
henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. (Acts

"The City of Brass"7 scathingly castigates the element of

13Ex. 5:6-19.

114Jer. 23:5; Amos 5:24; Matt. 12:20; John 12:31;
Heb. 9:27; Rev. 14:7.

115Jer. 44:28; Ezek. 6:8, Isa. 1:9; etc.

116I Kin. 18:25-41.

117The Years Between, XXVI, 415-418.

democratic rule which Kipling abhorred, the element that

panders to mobs and demagogues who recognize no law but

their own appetites. After asserting that all national

splendor is due to God, Kipling describes a people drunk

with pride, who chose new "prophets and priests" who would

do their bidding,8 turned their defenses into playgrounds

and replied to "their well-wishers' fears" and "their ene-

mies' laughter" that they had fashioned a new "God that

would save them. "When they were fullest of wine and

most flagrant in error," for them, as for Belshazzar,

"Out of the sea rose a sign--out of Heaven a terror"20

for "The tares they had laughingly sown were ripe to the

reaping," 21 and this nation disappeared "from the roll of

the Nations." "The Choice22 is supposed to be spoken by

The American Spirit when, in 1917, the United States en-

tered the War. Its first stanza sets its tone:

To the Judge of Right and Wrong
With Whom fulfilment lies
Our purpose and our power belong,
Our faith and sacrifice.

18 Kin. 22:13-28; Rev. 14:20.

l19Ex. 32:1-6.

120Dan. 5.

1 Matt. 13:24-30.

122The Years Between, XXVI, 346-347.

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