Tuesday, December 08, 2009


Kipling and Horace

I just finished reading Charles Carrington, Rudyard Kipling: His Life and Work (London: Macmillan, 1955; rpt. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1986). On pp. 554-556 Carrington discusses Kipling's fondness for the Latin poet Horace, whose birthday is today. Carrington also prints (p. 556) some poetical summaries or comments on Horace by Kipling, which interested me and might interest you as well. Kipling summarized the Soracte Ode (1.9) thus:
'Tis cold! Heap on the logs — and let's get tight!
The Gods can turn this world for just one night.
I will enjoy myself and be no scorner
Of any nice girl giggling in a corner.
On Ode 1.22 (Integer vitae scelerisque purus) Kipling commented:
The Pure and Perfect Bore
  Goes scatheless evermore,
Arrows and Poison never yet destroyed him.
  Such is the Mantle thrown
  By Dulness on Her own
That when he sings the very Beasts avoid him.

So he pervades the Earth
  Absorbed in his own Worth,
No Tact restrains — no Grace — no Humour move him,
  And yet — Oh Womankind!
  This God's Own Ass can find
Some long-enduring Lalage to love him!
Finally, on a more serious note, Ode 1.24 (Quis desiderio sit pudor aut modus) inspired this little poem:
They pass, O God, and all
  Our grief, our tears,
Achieve not their recall
  Nor reach their ears.
Our lamentations leave
  But one thing sure.
They perish and we grieve
  But we endure.

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