(Notes by Alastair Wilson)
Of the driven dust of speech I make a flameThese lines reverted to the Seven Seas version in Inclusive Verse (1919) and later editions. This is the version we have reproduced in this Guide.
And a scourge of broken withes that men let fall:
For the words that had no honour till I came—
Lo! I raise them into honour over all!
“George had a rather curious oil-skin-covered parcel in his hand. It was round and flat at one end, with a long straight handle sticking out of it.
“What’s that?” said Harris – “a frying pan?”
“No.” said George, with a strange, wild look glittering in his eyes; “they are all the rage this season; everybody has got them up the river. It’s a banjo.”
“I never knew you played the banjo!” cried Harris and I, in one breath.
“Not exactly,” replied George; “but it’s very easy, they tell me; and I’ve got the instruction book!”
And it’s sweeter than “Stables” or “Water” to me“Stables” and “Water” were two cavalry trumpet calls, and "Bonnie Dundee" is a traditional Scottish air.
The Cavalry Canter of ‘Bonnie Dundee.
Vat jou goed en trek, Ferriera,Kipling later used it, in its Dutch form, in "The Way that He Took" a tale of the Second South African War, published in 1900. [Confirmed by Mary Hamer, with thanks to Elria Wessels of the Anglo-Boer War Museum in Bloemfontein, RSA. Ed.]
Vat jou goed en trek !
Agter die bos is 'n klompie perde,
Vat jou goed en trek !
Zwaar drag, alle en de ein kant;
Jannie met de hoepel bein!
“Here, too, lies another wonder- that tarn (Scales Tarn) which is said to reflect the stars at noonday – a marvel which we by no means undertake to avouch. The tarn is so situated at the foot of a vast precipice, and so buried among crags, that the sun never reaches it, except through a crevice in early morning."Then from the Metropolitan Magazine for September 1834, the following excerpt from a comedy “The Gypsy; or ‘Whose Son am I?’ “
Nelly: The stars the noonday starsIt also appears in translations of Don Quixote by Cervantes, and as a Bengali proverb:
Peter: The noonday stars who can see the stars at noonday
Peter, looking up: Well then I aren’t one of them
“When the poor man grows rich he beholds the stars at noonday.”And Yan Shapiro has found two references on the Internet to the idea of seeing stars in the noon-day, on a Harvard University website, and a Pliny site.
George got his banjo out after supper, and wanted to play it, but Harris objected: he said he had got a headache, and did not feel strong enough to stand it. George thought the music would do him good – said music often soothed the nerves and took away a headache; and he twanged two or three notes, just to show Harris what it was like. Harris said he would rather have the headache.[Verse 6 Chorus] This extends the theme of the verse, but rather than nostalgia, it is remorse (“We have done those things which we ought not to have done”.)
Hermes, the patron god of merchants and thieves, began his career of crime on the day he was born by stealing the oxen that Apollo tended (Horace, Odes i. 10). He invented the lyre, which he made out of a sea-shell and ultimately sold to Apollo, the god of music and poetry.However, we would suggest that Kipling implies a double meaning here, and is making a reference to the Greek poet Homer, whom he refers to as a user of other men’s tales in 'When 'Omer smote 'is bloomin' lyre...' also collected in The Seven Seas:
“An’ what he thought ‘e might require[Line 4] bore my iron head and ringing guts gave birth to the banjo.
‘E went an’ took – the same as me!