Should Kipling show America the way?

“When you’re left wounded on Afganistan’s plains
and the women come out to cut up what remains,
Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains,
And go to your God like a soldier”

-Rudyard Kipling

Over a hundred years ago, Kipling wrote this script, urging the British soldiers to keep a stiff upper lip and do the right thing so that the sun would never set on their English empire. What most people like to quote is the very last line.

How strange to see this entire quote in the context of today, when American troops are facing war in such a far away land.

Russia could not win against that small country. Alexander the Great, I hear, chose to stop his war with the people there, then went on to conquering other parts of the “known” world. 

I simply don’t want to see one of our nation’s soldiers try to “tough it out,” to follow Kipling’s lead. I would prefer to see all empires crumble, rather than hear that the “good guy” forced a way of  life on another culture, another people.

Let Afghanistan to the Afghans. Our war was with Al Ouida, wasn’t it?

Let’s not let any women touch the remains of our soldiers. Or for a single soldier to use his rifle the Kipling way. . .

Tut, tut, and cheerio, there, my good fellow.

3 comments on “Should Kipling show America the way?

  1. I loved Kipling’s “Just So” stories as a child, and was appalled by him when I grew up and learned more of what he was about and his world view.

    I’m afraid I agree with George Orwell on Kipling: “Kipling is a jingo imperialist, he is morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting.”

    This quote comes from a brilliant essay by Orwell on Kipling and on why his works continue to be popular despite being a racist imperialist _____ (fill in the blank.)

    I read the essay years ago, but found it again here:


    • contoveros says:

      “Like most people capable of writing battle poetry, Kipling had never been in battle . . .”

      Well, this line in the article by George Orwell stood out for me. I did not know “this” Kipling as a young man. I only knew “If,” the poem that helped get me through Basic Training, AIT and on to Vietnam.

      I have suggested that my teenage son and his friends read “If” as an inspiration in life.

      I guess a misguided person can sometimes offer the world a little shining light along with the darkness.


      • Oh, sure, absolutely, with human its not all or nothing. Some really “terrible” human beings were much-loved and admired poets, composers, painters, and the like. (Picasso was a monster to all the women in his life; I mean a *monster.*)

        At first, early in my path, this fact drove me crazy. How could something so beautiful or inspiring come from such an awful human being? But now, I know that the light shines in the darkness, in every human being, even though the darkness “comprehends it not.” Just as you said.

        Btw, I loved “If” too. I haven’t looked at in decades, though, and wonder how it will wear. I’m so glad it was a help to you in training and in Vietnam (I haven’t thought about the term AIT (advanced individual training) for at least 25 years or more, btw! My AIT, happily, was electronics school.)

        Ah, now as for battle poetry—the best of it, in my opinion comes from those who actually fought, and the some of best of those are the greats like Owen and Sassoon of Word War I. However, the power of what they convey might be almost unbearable, I would think, for someone who had been in combat (or maybe not?)


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