Those who are outside the law are portrayed as the Bandar-log or monkeys, whose "Road-Song" is one of Kipling's more flamboyant rhythmic exercises. The rhythm of the lines follows the movements of the monkeys as they swing through the trees, reach for the moon, or drop to earth with their regular taunt thrown at anyone who is not with them: "Brother, thy tail hangs down behind!" So perfectly are sound and sense blended that even the curve of the monkey's tail, of which they are so proud, is reproduced in the movement of the lines. In the poem's final stanza, the monkeys continue to play, but the rhythm collapses into a clumsy prose which reflects the emptiness and vanity of their boasts:Marghanita Laski (p. 123), discussing the Jungle Books, stresses the importance of obeying the Law and...
Then join our leaping lines that scumfish through the pines,They may seem as light and graceful as flying-fish as they "scumfish" through the trees, but they are really the "scum" of society, feckless, irresponsible, lacking individuality, capable only of acting as a pack, dreamers who will never be doers. They are not only outside the Law: they are beyond it, and its enemies.
That rocket by where, light and high, the wild-grape swings.
By the rubbish in our wake, and the noble noise we make,
Be sure - be sure, we're going to do some splendid things!
…the need to avoid contamination by jabber, (See Verse 3.) rabble-rousers or dreamy intellectuals, here personified by the Monkey-Folk, the Bandar-Log….She then quotes a few lines of the poem, all beneath a photograph of Kipling sitting on the deck of a Union Castle liner on passage to Cape Town, telling a Jungle story to Elsie and John and some other children. [Strangely enough, as Charles Carrington, Kipling’s first official biographer once remarked to this Editor, none of the people who knew him as children, either as a story-teller or in Southsea where he lived and first went to school (See “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” in Wee Willie Winkie) has, as far as we know, ever come forward in later life with their memories. Ed.]
As with all stories of this kind, there are readers on whom the magic does not work. These presumably include the critics who have tried desperately to find political meanings in the Jungle Books and disagree among themselves as to whether the Bandar-Log represent the Americans or the Liberals or such ‘lesser breeds without the law’ (“Recessional”) as they believe Kipling was most anxious to insult at the moment of writing.And Martin Fido (p. 78) has no hesitation in saying,
Intellectuals are consciously attacked as the Bandar-Log: chattering monkey-people who play with ideas – particularly ideas which offend other people – but achieve nothing themselves. The unflattering picture has, naturally, offended many serious adult readers and attracted for Kipling the unfortunate vocal admiration of anti-intellectual philistines. Yet as a comment on the parlour-pink aesthetes who valued their skill in the expression of supercilious malice without making any very obvious contribution to the quality of life around them, it should have been usefully provocative in 1894.These sentiments are reflected in Frankwell Midmore's rejection of Hampstead intellectuals in “My Son’s Wife” (A Diversity of Creatures), and Kipling's poem “In Partibus”:
... But I consort with long-haired thingsKipling and monkeys
In velvet collar-rolls,
Who talk about the Aims of Art,
And “theories” and “goals"...