| notes on the text
…there is, to be sure, nothing with the peculiar thrill of ‘Danny Deever’, nothing with the peculiar homesick, heartsick touch of ‘Mandalay’, but there are other things as moving and as true, with a plunge of tragedy into depths not sounded before, however the surface was troubled.The poem is also a prime example of T.S. Eliot’s much later comment that:
[WD Howells, review of The Seven Seas, in McClure’s Magazine. March 1897]
…the variety of form which Kipling manages to devise for his ballads is remarkable: each is distinct and perfectly fitted to the content and the mood which the poem has to convey.George Orwell wrote a review of Eliot's selection which was published in the literary journal Horizon in February 1942. In it he ranged well beyond Eliot's comments and selection to give his own analysis of Kipling as a poet. One aspect of this analysis was to assert that in putting the words of the ordinary soldiers into dialect form, mainly Cockney, Rudyard Kipling was patronising them and treating them as comic characters.
[Introduction to A Choice of Kipling’s Verse, Faber & Faber, London, 1941]
... it is singularly effective in the variety of time and tone, which is achieved in a few lines, …concluding with a sudden break into the rhythm of a slow march.”Angus Wilson (pp. 84-5) discusses the lot of the private soldiers of the Victorian era and identified their essential need for both comradeship and companionship to get them through the 'intolerable future on foreign service'. He concludes that, of all poets, only Kipling 'really caught it in the soldier’s lament at the death of his friend.'