The Muse Among the Motors

Rudyard Kipling and car

The eighteenth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here and here.  Kipling had a very distinctive style, a style which has produced endless poems imitating him.  It occasionally amused Kipling to do a poem in the style of some other poet.  Between 1904 and 1929 he did a series of short poems in the style of various poets.  The subject of the poems was the new horseless carriage.  Kipling loved cars, although it is unclear whether he ever drove one himself.  Here are a few of the poems in his series The Muse Among the Motors.  I will leave to the readers in the comboxes to guess the poet being copied.  We will start out with an easy one:

The Justice’s Tale

With them there rode a lustie Engineere

Wel skilled to handel everich waie her geere,

Hee was soe wise ne man colde showe him naught

And out of Paris was hys learnynge brought.

Frontlings mid brazen wheeles and wandes he sat,

And on hys heade he bare an leathern hat.

Hee was soe certaine of his governance, That, by the

Road, he tooke everie chaunce.

For simple people and for lordlings eke

Hee wolde not bate a del but onlie squeeke

Behinde their backes on an horne hie

Until they crope into a piggestie.

He was more wood than bull in china-shoppe,

And yet for cowes and dogges wolde hee stop,

Not our of Marcie but for Preudence-sake–

Than hys dependaunce ever was hys brake.

A bit harder:

To a Lady, Persuading Her to a Car

LOVE’S fiery chariot, Delia, take

Which Vulcan wrought for Venus’ sake.

Wings shall not waft thee, but a flame

Hot as my heart—as nobly tame:

Lit by a spark, less bright, more wise

Than linked lightnings of thine eyes!

Seated and ready to be drawn

Come not in muslins, lace or lawn,

But, for thy thrice imperial worth,

Take all the sables of the North,

With frozen diamonds belted on,

To face extreme Euroclydon!

Thus in our thund’ring toy we’ll prove

Which is more blind, the Law or Love;

And may the jealous Gods prevent

Our fierce and uncontrouled descent!

A bit harder:

The Tour

THIRTEEN as twelve my Murray always took—

He was a publisher. The new Police

Have neater ways of bringing men to book,

So Juan found himself before J.P.’s

Accused of storming through that placid nook

At practically any pace you please.

The Dogberry, and the Waterbury, made

It fifty mile—five pounds. And Juan paid!

Harder still:

When the Journey was Intended to the City



WHEN that with meat and drink they had fulfilled

Not temperately but like him conceived

In monstrous jest at Meudon, whose regale

Stands for exemplar of Gargantuan greed,

In his own name supreme, they issued forth

Beneath new firmaments and stars astray,

Circumvoluminant; nor had they felt

Neither the passage nor the sad effect

Of many cups partaken, till that frost

Wrought on them hideous, and their minds deceived.

Thus choosing from a progeny of roads,

That seemed but were not, one most reasonable,

Of purest moonlight fashioned on a wall,

Thither they urged their chariot whom that flint

But tressed received, itself unscathed—not they.


The Beginner


Lo! What is this that I make—sudden, supreme, unrehearsed—

This that my clutch in the crowd pressed at a venture has raised?

Forward and onward I sprang when I thought (as I ought) I reversed,

And a cab like martagon opes and I sit in the wreckage dazed.

And someone is taking my name, and the driver is rending the air

With cries for my blood and my gold, and a snickering news-boy brings

My cap, wheel-pashed from the kerb.

I must run her home for repair,

Where she leers with her bonnet awry—flat on the nether springs!


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Donald R. McClarey (1546 Posts)

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