"L'Envoi" to Barrack Room Ballads and Other Verses
(notes by John McGivering
and John Radcliffe)
There's a whisper down the line at 11.39The Theme
When the Night Mail's ready to depart,
Saying 'Skimble where is Skimble, has he gone to hunt the thimble?
We must find him or the train can't start...
...a collection of such richness, variety and gusto, if we claim no other merit for it as to inflate the Kipling boom seven times larger ... it was reprinted three times in 1892, and fifty times in the next thirty years, much the most popular book of verse in the world for more than a generation.Some critical comments
a well-known fact about Kipling’s work, and such small workaday steamers as the ‘bucking Bilbao tramp’ of his poem “The Long Trail” appears so often in his verse and prose and usually, it seems with such intimate knowledge of their workings and behaviour especially in bad weather, that it is hard to believe that all this is sheer invention, helped out perhaps, by visits in ports.In “The Feet of the Young Men” Kipling asks:
Do you know the joy of threshing leagues to leeward of your portTaken literally, this would be a pastime we would prefer not to try, though it may express metaphorically Kipling's delight in wandering through the world in uncharted territories. But in fairness to Kipling, we should point out that the splendid accounts of weather at sea in “Their Lawful Occasions” (Traffics and Discoveries, p. 124 onwards) and “A Matter of Fact” (Many Inventions), and elsewhere, ring remarkably true, personal experience or not.
On a coast you've lost the chart of overside?
Mississippi Bay is at the back of Yokohama Bay, which is in Japan. [Letters (Ed. Pinney) Vol 2, p. 101.]Golden Gate a channel in California between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, since 1933 it has been spanned by a famous bridge.. See “Kipling and America’s defenceless coast”. and Letter XXIII in From Sea to Sea, Volume 1.
There are three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four in which I know not. The way of an eagle in the air, the way of a serpent upon a rock, the way of a ship in the midst of the sea, and the way of a man with a maid.North-East Trade one of the regular winds which blow between 30° north and south of the Equator. See The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea p. 882.
WHEN the cabin port-holes are dark and green[Verse 7]
Because of the seas outside;
When the ship goes wop (with a wiggle between)
And the steward falls into the soup-tureen,
And the trunks begin to slide;
When Nursey lies on the floor in a heap,
And Mummy tells you to let her sleep,
And you aren't waked or washed or dressed,
Why, then you will know (if you haven't guessed)
You're "Fifty North and Forty West!"