In Orwell's short though efficient analysis of Rudyard Kipling, he covers his opinion, his critique, and the affect Kipling had on Orwell as a writer. Orwell regards some of Kipling's work as best-in-class material, and other work as vulgar and lacking verse. I read Kipling's poem The Road to Mandalay and understand Orwell's apprehensions, since the verse is choppy and arhythmic because it's told in 19th century common language. So lines 27-30 read like this:
But that's all shove be'ind me--long ago an' fur away
An' there ain't no 'busses runnin' from the Bank to Mandalay;
An' I'm learnin' 'ere in Lond what the ten-year soldier tells:
"If you've 'eard the East a-callin', you won't never 'eed naught else."
Reading another generation's common language can be frustrating and unclear because we don't understand their idioms, but stylistically that's how many writers have approached dialogue and poetry across time. Ironically, Orwell does this in his own dialogue.
The second characteristic that makes Mandalay...complex...is the rhyme-scheme. (If you'd like to read the poem, the site is: http://www.kipling.org.uk/poems_mandalay.htm)
The first stanza follows rhyme pattern: aabbbbbbbb.
The second stanza: ccdddddb (Note the last line rhymes with the second grouping of the first stanza.)
The third stanza: eefffffb (So here we already have a pattern; the first two lines in the stanzas rhyme, as do the five that follow then the last line duplicates the previous stanza)
The fourth stanza: bbgggggb.
The fifth stanza: hhiiiiib.
The sixth stanza: jjkkbbbbbb. (Note the new rhyme formation)
Clearly, reading it multiple times helps.
Yes, it's choppy, and Orwell describes the verse as being a "by-word for badness", though maintains that it is memorable, and accepts Kipling's status as a genius. Orwell approaches Kipling with melancholy, because Kipling lent his genius to imperialism instead of a more worthy ideal (Orwell never identifies this ideal). To Orwell, this affected the content of Kipling's work. On page 39 Orwell says, "If he had never come under imperialist influence, and if he had developed, as he might well have done, into a writer of music-hall songs, he would have been a better and more lovable writer." Seems like Orwell has quite a few hang-ups about Kipling: his often vulgar prose, his often choppy verse, and his political ideals, which affected his "lovability." All these shape Kipling to be a true role model for Orwell--which he is honest about--which shows how role models aren't necessarily perfect mythical figures, but people that have practiced our craft and can guide us in some way, shape, or form.
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