Having posted Kipling’s “Recessional” on 5 August, I was prompted to revisit some of my earlier posts on the poet. Kipling is a person full of contradictions. On the one hand he produced “The Stranger” which is, arguably his most overtly racist poem, however he was also able to see beyond skin colour as can be perceived in his poem “Mandalay” which recounts the love of an english soldier for a Burmese maiden.
Rudyard Kipling is frequently perceived as an imperial poet, a writer who glorified British imperialism and who was, not to mince words a racist. Is this an accurate portrayal?
On my bookshelves sits “Kipling, poems selected by James Cochrane”. Cochrane’s edition contains a wide and varied selection of Kipling’s verse ranging from “Recessional” through to “The Law of the Jungle”. However one poem which is missing from Cochrane’s selection is “The Stranger”. “The Stranger” is, arguably one of Kipling’s most overtly racist poems. In it Kipling argues that different races and/or nationalities can never, truly comprehend one another. We can see the physical shape of “the stranger” but not the inner soul which is, in essence different from our soul.
“The Stranger” has, not surprisingly been used by neo-Nazis in support of their anti-immigrant and racist ideology. For example the neo-Nazi American teen girl band, Prussian Blue have performed…
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