Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Kipling's Personae

It's almost hard to write on Kipling beyond pointing out the obvious that these poems or epitaphs are all eloquent, eerily beautiful anti-war propaganda. However, after going through them all a second time, one thing stuck out to me.

Most of the poetry we've read so far reference death/posthumous topics at least some if not frequently. For instance, Keats writes about his brother's death, his reaction to his brother's death, and even his apparent death to come. Kipling is not different in terms of topic, but he is in terms of perspective. Essentially all of these epitaphs come from the persona of one who is recently deceased. There is no lamenting of the deceased, per se; rather, it is the deceased lamenting their mistakes, misfortunes, and loved ones left behind. They remind me a lot of Emily Dickinson in this regard, at least in terms of the differing personae, though she wasn't quite as 'regretful' in hers, nor nearly as motivated to create propaganda.

A side note: It is also interesting is that these are called epitaphs. Generally, when I think of epitaphs, I think of a loved one writing about one who is deceased. For instance, seeing "beloved father and husband" on a grave. It's an interesting twist Kipling employs that I find very effective.

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