by John McGivering)
|notes on the text|
——Very cold it was. Very coldThough he had never read Keats (1795-1821), who was himself a consumptive and a chemist's assistant, Mr Shaynor had reproduced several passages from the poem "The Eve of St Agnes". Like the wireless messages coming through space, it seems that inspiration is coming from the past by some mysterious unknown power. Meanwhile, the technical experimenters find that wireless messages are coming in, not from Poole as they had expected, but from two warships at sea off the English coast; but then Poole comes in 'clear as a bell'.
The hare—the hare—the hare—
The hare, in spite of fur, was very cold.
Incense in a censer——
Before her darling picture framed in gold—
Maiden’s picture—angel’s portrait—
Candied apple, quince and plum and gourd,
With jellies smoother than the creamy curd,
And lucent syrops tinct with cinnamon;
Manna and dates in argosy transferred
From Fez; and spiced dainties, every one
From silken Samarcand to cedared Lebanon.
kept his ears to the ground (and) was able ... to write 'Wireless' ... a story that explored the relationship between psychic communications and the new science of telegraphy.This despite his poem “En-Dor” which warns against dabbling in such matters. See “They” and “Mrs. Bathurst” later in this volume, and, for a more light-hearted viewpoint, “The Sending of Dana Da” (Soldiers Three) For background to the development of wireless telegraphy see ORG Volume 4, p.1903.
not to my mind a very successful tale, though, like most of his comparative failures, it is interesting. It is too full of crowded detail which, as it is structural, cannot be eliminated. The too-assertive ‘I’ moves restlessly among the bric-à-brac, assembling and twitching it into position and fairly prodding on the apocalyptic minute. The mind of the reader is over-occupied with matching clues; or it fails to match them …Dr Tompkins goes on to say that the story suffers from too much detail – unlike “Mrs. Bathurst” (later in this volume) – which has not enough ! Kingsley Amis (p. 95) takes a similar view:
The reader's attention is directed more to the skilful counterpointing of its two themes - communication in space by telegraphy, and in time by some means or other - than to the pathos of the consumptive chemist's assistant whose mind becomes attuned to that of Keats.See also Bodelsen (p.134) who likens this story to “Mrs. Bathurst” (later in this volume) where Kipling uses, to great effect, another new invention – the cinematograph.
Psyche in Greek mythology represented the human soul. In Greek and Graeco-Roman art she was represented sometimes as a beautiful girl with a bird's or a butterfly's wings, sometimes simply as a butterfly.In Something of Myself (p. 7) Kipling mentions that during his time at Southsea, soon after he learned to read, his parents sent him a bound copy of issues of Aunt Judy's Magazine from the early 1870s which he read closely, and still possessed over sixty years later. At that time the magazine published a series of translations of poems by foreign writers, including Stagnelius. In the view of Lisa Lewis 'Kaspar's Song', which was clearly written by Kipling, parodies the stilted language of these, rather than any particular poem. Another influence, mentioned by John Lee, may have been Edmund Gosse -- a critic and translator of north European literature, and, of course, a friend of Kipling.