(notes by Lisa Lewis)
| notes on the text
for Truth is a naked lady, and if by accident she is drawn up from the bottom of the sea, it behoves a gentleman either to give her a print petticoat or to turn his face the wall and vow he did not see.On 7th July 1926, Kipling delivered a speech called “Fiction” to the Centenary Banquet of the Royal Society of Literature [collected in A Book of Words]. He asserted that:
Fiction is Truth’s elder sister. Obviously. No one in the world knew what truth was until some one had told a story. So it is the oldest of the arts, the mother of history, biography, philosophy … and, of course, of politics.In the present poem, he seems to claim that fiction is the only possible vehicle for some of the tales he has heard from his soldier-informants for The Irish Guards in the Great War. It may also be relevant that he was never able to discover how his son John, a newly-joined officer in that regiment, had been killed, or where (if anywhere) the body was buried.