February 4, 2019

Max’s Musings

By Max Molleston

I rambled around my poetry collection for this month’s poem and comments. It is February, and in 14-15 years of this effort, I may have exhausted the sweet stuff for St Valentine’s day. Digging deeper I recovered a 1900 printing (that’s right, some 119 years in the past,) of Rudyard Kipling’s efforts in younger years with the British military in India. Recall, the Brits ruled India for centuries until 1948, but Kipling’s stuff predates that by as much as 68 years .

I have used this poem in the past, perhaps one explaining Kipling. I like its scope and its manner of moving things along. Here is the “front part”.

THE OVERLAND MAIL

In the name of the Empress of India, make way. O lords of the Jungle, wherever you roam, The woods are awake at the end of the day – We exiles are waiting for letters from Home. Let the robber retreat, and the tiger turn tail – In the name of the Empress, the Overland Mail.

With the jingle of bells as the dusk gathers in, He turns to the footpath that leads up the hill – The bags on his back and a cloth round his chin, And tucked in his waist-belt the Post Office bill : “Despatched on this date, as received from the rail, Per runner, two bags of Overland Mail.”

Is the torrent in spate? (large flow) He must ford it or swim. Has the rain wrecked the road? He must climb by the cliff. Does the tempest cry halt? What are tempests to him? The service admits not a “but” or an “if.”

These 17 lines of the 35 line poem seem sufficient for us this month. The remainder of the Kipling poem details the route of the runner to deliver these letters “from home.”

So you will know, the word ‘Despatched’ is correct in the poem, however, the current speller on my machine wants to correct it to current English as ‘dispatched.’

What endearment is passed along? In our very modern current time, it is that endearing email, tweet or your choice of electronic passage we may expect, but a nice card or well-versed note is still desired.

I rode a Chicago Northwestern train from Ames, Iowa to the windy city. I might have thought it a “milk train” but that seems too long in our pasts. It had passenger seats and baggage for all I knew and it might have picked up bags of mail to be dispatched and/or collected along the tracks at appropriate junctions. That’s my sweetest thinking from 60 years in our pasts.

We have had lots of windy days and nights late last and early this year. March may fool us with nice days so we can deal with our desires about the flowers of Spring.

Join me and see what can come up then.

Filed Under: History, Personal Growth