The Gods of the Copybook Headings

This one is about the old and sage advice. it is about empty promises and being sold hope and upliftedness. It echoes and expands upon advice given elsewhere by Kipling on the value of things, and nothing being given for free – see “MacDonough’s Song” about being lured by the loudest throat. It also, in …

Prelude (to Departmental Ditties)

Even the introductions to his collections of poetry are works of art.  Prelude (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 …

Hymn of Breaking Strain

This poem is about engineering, but so much more. it speaks to all of our projects that we aspire to. After laying out how we can look up tables of the properties of materials, and design things to take the strength and properties into account, he points out a fundamental truth: People are not all …

Rikki Tikki Tavi

There isn’t room here for the entirety of the Story Rikki Tikki Tavi in one post, much less the entirety of the Jungle Book. Nevertheless, the stories of the Jungle Book, like many of his other short stories, often contained snippets of poems, or entire poems, created for the story being introduced. My first exposure …

The Sons of Martha

The Sons of Martha  is one of many poems by Kipling that celebrates engineers, and what they do to keep things running. It’s loosely based on an interpretation of the following gospel story: As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home …

MacDonough’s Song

Many who were exposed to Kipling almost exclusively through his more popular poems (such as “If”) or the Jungle Book, would be surprised to know he had also written what would be considered science fiction and horror.  Two of his stories, “As easy as A.B.C” and “With the Night Mail” were set in a future …