(Infantry Column of the Earlier War)
(Notes by Mary Hamer)
‘an infinity of booted feet coming down and taking up, with the exactness of a machine’. [Civil and Military Gazette 6 April, 1885, collected in Thomas Pinney, Kipling’s India]But he had thrown so much into fulfilling this, his first major assignment, that he was exhausted, so overstrung that he couldn’t sleep. On April 6 his diary notes:
‘I must shut up with a click before long. Too little sleep and too much seen.’ [Published in Thomas Pinney, Something of Myself and other Autobiographical Writings.]Kipling already knew enough about his own propensity to depression and nervous collapse to be alarmed. On the following day, April 7, he found himself hallucinating those marchers whose mechanical perfection he had watched earlier:
‘Review and phantasms of hundreds and thousands of legs all moving together have stopped mysleep altogether.’The fear of breakdown – ‘shutting up with a click’ - which accompanied that hallucination is revived here, in the such lines as:
‘Oh – my – God – keep me from goin’ lunatic!’In A Handbook to the Poetry of Rudyard Kipling (1914) Durand claims that if the first four words in each line are read at the rate of two words to a second that will give the time at which a foot soldier used to march.