Monday, 18 May 2015

Review: '100 Poems: Old and New' by Rudyard Kipling, edited by Thomas Pinney

When I saw '100 Poems' on NetGalley I knew I wanted a look at it because I have only ever known Rudyard Kipling as a novelist and short story writer, although I have to admit, to my shame, I haven't read The Jungle Book yet. His poems are, although less known, very interesting and to see so many together in a collection really puts each in perspective. Thanks to Netgalley and Cambridge University Press.

Pub. Date: 03/10/2013
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936), winner of the 1907 Nobel Prize for Literature and author of one of the most popular poems in the English language, 'If–', has long captured the interest of poetry lovers. Here, Thomas Pinney brings together a selection of well-established favourites and the best of the previously uncollected and unpublished poems from The Cambridge Edition of the Poems of Rudyard Kipling (2013). The poems, whether exploring the colonial experience, exposing the injustice of war, or appreciating the beauties of nature, resonate with Kipling's keen observations of his world and strong sense of poetic rhythm. Discovered by Pinney in an array of unlikely hiding places, the uncollected and unpublished poems show the diversity and development of Kipling's talent over his lifetime, and, when combined with long-held favourites, offer readers a unique opportunity to experience Kipling's mastery of poetry in a new way. Beautifully presented, this collection makes an ideal gift for poetry lovers and Kipling fans alike
'If-' is one of my favourite poems and I only now realised it is by Kipling. This poem, also included in this collection, is the reason why I believe Kipling's poetry to be stunning. I myself am struggling to find words to properly review his poetry and he manages to describe perfectly what it feels like to battle the world and move between independence and company. A poetry collection is rather difficult to review, since poetry is not only subjective but one poem also majorly differs from another despite sharing an author. Whereas one poem can be to your liking, another can be in a completely different tone. It is in that sense that I have to admit that I don't care for his poems titled after fruit. 'Apples', 'Berries', 'Grapes', 'The Peach', 'Plums' and 'The Watermelon', all of them, just don't do anything for me.

Rather than try to describe the entire collection, I think it makes more sense to try and describe Kipling's impact by picking a particular poem. In this case, I've decided on 'Gunga Din'. Still one of Kipling's more famous poems, it is really interesting the way attitudes shifts in the poem. People sometimes forget about Kipling's history as a soldier, especially in India. That is where this poem takes place as well, displaying perfectly the imperial ideology that Kipling was confronted with on a daily basis. Authors from Britain's Imperial history are often plagued by the stigma of their time. Another famous example is Joseph Conrad, whose Heart of Darkness is not intrinsically racist although his characters often are. It is easy to associate Kipling's poetry with these attitudes but often there is more behind them than immediately meets the eye.

I give this collection...

3 Universes!

The variety of poems is what makes 100 Poems a good collection. By bringing together old and new poems, Pinney makes 100 Poems an interesting read even for those who are already familiar with most of Kipling's available work. Although personally I am still not a major fan of Kipling's poetry, I would recommend this collection to those interested in reading different attitudes to colonialism and Imperialism.

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