A Select Guide to Kipling’s Verse
‘Absent-minded Beggar, The’. Written in October 1899, the month in which the South African War broke out; published in the Daily Mail on 31 October. On its extraordinary success as a fund-raiser to aid the families left behind by soldiers who had gone to South Africa, see p. 21. It is unashamedly propagandist, toughly unsentimental, ironic and reproachful towards patriotic words unbacked by deeds. Kipling commented that ‘Sir Arthur Sullivan wedded the words to a tune guaranteed to pull teeth out of barrel-organs’, and J. McG. Stewart notes that ‘Handkerchiefs, pillow cases, plates, tobacco jars, ash trays, cigarette packages, etc., were produced bearing all or part of the poem, and a part of the sale price in each case went into the fund.’ A facsimile of the manuscript can be found in Sotheby & Co.’s catalogue for 23 March 1936.
KeywordsTray Blindness Verse Hate Prose
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