George Orwell on Rudyard Kipling

I have to admit that If by Rudyard Kipling is one of my favorite English language poems, the last two verses of which appear on the left. The full poem appears at the end of this post.

The reason for this post? Because Kipling was born on this day, Dec 30th, in 1865 in Mumbai, and died in London in 1936.

Of course, when I read If in school, I had no idea of who Kipling was. I liked the poem, and that was it. Later I learned that Khushwant Singh had said that the poem was essentially a condensation of some of the messages of the Bhagavad Gita. Perhaps that’s why I had that intuitive liking for it.

Much later I realized that Kipling was not a nice man. He was, in the words of George Orwell, a “jingoist imperialist.” Here’s an excerpt from an essay Orwell wrote (I believe in 1945) on Kipling: Continue reading