Dan Jacobson
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Kipling in South Africa
in In Time’s eye
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The 'geo-political' misgivings expressed by Umr Singh take one back to Cecil John Rhodes, to Rudyard Kipling, and to the curious intensity of their relationship with one another. From beginning to end of his South African sojourns, he took remarkably little interest in black Africans. During the twentieth century, the term 'race' was habitually used in South Africa to refer to the quarrel between Boer and Briton. But Kipling never forgot the crushing defeats the Boers had inflicted on British forces during the first few months of hostilities in South Africa. In his post-war published writings on South Africa, Kipling did indeed write several reconciliatory poems like 'Half-Ballade of Waterval', 'Piet', 'Chant-Pagan' and 'The Settler'. As in many Kipling poems, its metre and rhymes draw on Swinburne, transforming the triumphalist liberal political poetry of the latter's Songs before Sunrise to the very different ends of his own imperial nationalism.

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In Time’s eye

Essays on Rudyard Kipling

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