(notes edited by Roberta Baldi. We are grateful to Alastair Wilson for various comments and suggestions)
Occasionally Rud struck a more sardonic note, as in “The Story of Uriah”. He took the title from the episode in 2 Samuel where King David, lusting after Bathsheba, sent her husband, Uriah the Hittite, to his death in the front-line. Rud’s poem presented an Anglo-Indian equivalent, with Jack Barrett being transferred by his wife’s high-placed lover from a safe billet in Simla to die in fever-ridden Quetta. According to Kay Robinson, the poem was a thinly disguised version of a topical scandal and:
‘those who had known the real “Jack Barrett”, good fellow that he was, and the vile superior and faithless wife who sent him “on duty” to his death, felt the heat of the spirit which inspired Kipling’s verse in a way that gave those few lines an imperishable force'.
[Harold Orel (Ed.), Interviews and Recollections Vol 1, p. 74]
And it came to pass on the morning that David wrote a letter to Joah, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him that he may be smitten and die.[Heading] “Now there were two men in one city; the one rich and the other poor” Quoted from 2 Samuel 12, 1. In the biblical account the prophet Nathan rebukes David for his murder of Uriah through a parable which begins with these words.
And when the wife of Uriah heard that her husbamd was dead, she mourned for her husband. And when the mourning was past David sent and fetched her to his house.[Line 23] Profound “profound” suggests an “unbroken or undisturbed” rest, but also Barrett’s corpse beneath the ground.
...the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. [First Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians 4,13-18][Line 29] Hurnai Harnai, in the Quetta region.