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Kipling, Rudyard

Subject: Dylan and Kipling - Rolling Stone interview 22 Nov 01
From: Chris Rollason  
Date: 30 Nov 2001 12:57:56 -0800

I have never associated Dylan very closely with Rudyard Kipling,
though it is true that the 'More Greatest Hits / Greatest Hits II'
version of  'You Ain't Goin' Nowhere' names Kipling's poem 'Gunga Din'
(metamorphosed into a 'movie'), and on 'Jokerman' the phrase 'the law
of the jungle' is from a poem included in RK's 'The Second Jungle

Now, in the 'Rolling Stone' interview published in the 22 Nov 01 issue
(pp. 56-69), we find Dylan quoting (p. 69, in response to a question
about the 11 September tragedy), four lines from Kipling's poem
'Gentlemen-Rankers', culminating in the dark conclusion: 'God help us,
for we knew the worst too young!'. The extract begins: 'We are done
with Hope and Honour, we are lost to Love and Truth', and that last
formulation could find its ironic echo in the title 'Love and Theft'.

One of Kipling's poetic achievements was to strengthen the presence of
the colloquial speaking voice within traditional, rhymed and rhythmed
English-language poetry. He was neither the first nor the last -
Shakespeare, Donne, Burns and the early Wordsworth are in that line
too. So too, across the Atlantic, are Canada's Robert Service, New
England's Robert Frost and … Bob Dylan. Perhaps Dylan's and
Kipling's use of the speaking voice for poetic effect, and the
crossings made by both of the high/popular cultural dividing-line,
might deserve a closer look.

The lines from Kipling are:

 'We are done with Hope and Honour, we are lost to Love and Truth,
We are dropping down the ladder rung by rung,
And the measure of our torment is the measure of our youth,
God help us, for we knew the worst too young!'

Christopher Rollason, M.A., Ph.D.
Metz, France

'The power of Thought - the magic of the Mind!'
George Gordon, Lord Byron, 1813

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