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!

Published in: on January 30, 2013 at 5:30 am  Comments (12)  
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  1. Thomas Chatterton, Henry Kendall, Shakespeare,Gavin Ewart, Stevenson… all are guesses. LOL

    • Nice try Dennis, but all incorrect! I guess they were more opaque than I considered them to be.

      • Chuckle, I think my literature class was during football season. Then my days in the Navy, any poetry was more ribald and avoided the classics.
        Oh well.

      • High School literature I recall mainly for Silas Marner, a good cure for insomnia.

  2. Chaucer, then one of the cavalier poets, but beyond that I dasn’t venture.

    • Chaucer yes. A precursor of the Cavalier poets.

      • Well, OK, Spenser, that should have been obvious. The last two remind me of Keats, Shelley, and Byron, who for whatever reason all tend to blur together in my mind.

        The Tour reminds me most of . . . Kipling. That last phrase “And Juan Paid!” is so classic Kipling that its almost a parody.

      • Spencer is incorrect, but you are getting warm. Byron is among the poets but not in the last two slots.

      • Shakespeare is what I make my final guess. If that’s not it, at least I did my best.

      • No, but very warm indeed!

  3. […] here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here and here.   Kipling throughout his career always had a soft spot in his heart for the common British […]

  4. […] here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here and here.   Kipling throughout his career always had a soft spot in his heart for the common British […]

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