Saturday, March 26, 2005

Barrack-Room Ballads

On the subject of poetry, I have long felt that one poet who is overdue a new popular rennaisance is Rudyard Kipling. Just as Wilfred Owen tends to be employed as either a political icon or a punching bag depending upon the politics of those who are dealing with his work, Kipling has for some time been consigned to the rubbish bin as an apparent imperialistic embarassment. He deserves better - and in fact we deserve better because by dismissing him we do ourselves shoddy service intellectually. Approve or disapprove, Kipling is an important figure and significantly more representative than Wilfred Owen.

Incidentally, Owen deserves a book length treatment of his own along the lines of this one. That might go some way to setting the wagon trundling in the right direction.

Meanwhile, if it's "truth" you're after, I'd maintain that you'll find as much truth in "Tommy", "Gunga Din", "Danny Deever" and "The Young British Soldier" as you'll find anywhere else.


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