Heeding the Call


(To “The Departmental Ditties”)
by Rudyard Kipling

I have eaten your bread and salt.
I have drunk your water and wine.
The deaths ye died I have watched beside,
And the lives ye led were mine.

Was there aught that I did not share
In vigil or toil or ease, –
One joy or woe that I did not know,
Dear hearts across the seas?

I have written the tale of our life
For a sheltered people’s mirth,
In jesting guise – but ye are wise,
And ye shall know what the jest is worth.

The Call of Poetry

Sometimes it seems that no matter how hard english teachers try, the very nature of trying to force feed poetry into the mind of a rebellious teenager will cause them to end up resenting it. I definitely appreciate the pain of those who come to love Shakespeare, only to hear it butchered and badly enunciated in class.

That’s horribly unfair to some awesome, epic, and uplifting stuff.

Of the books I keep on my desk, the two most prominently placed are my copy of the Principia Discordia (a long story) and a collection of poetry by Rudyard Kipling that’s older than I am. While I still have no idea what happened to my copy of Pride and Prejudice from college (and don’t care), my Norton’s Anthology of English Literature is as well thumbed through as any of my science fiction or history books, with dozens of bookmarks pointing me to favorite poems.

Poetry needs to be heard. Unlike prose, it is so condensed in form and meaning, that the syllables and patterns form an intricate music of their own. You really cannot appreciate it until you hear it whisper or thunder with the sound of a human voice. Even when I read for myself, I read it out loud, no matter how quietly.

Pull up a chair, and enjoy.