First published in McClure's Magazine (Feb. 1899).
Rudyard Kipling is, in his grand style, the bard of British Imperialism, and in his dialect poems, the voice of the common soldier. Anyone interested in the military history ofour time owes it to himself to become at least passingly familiar with Kipling's soldierly verse.
Some believe that Kipling will be increasing criticized in the future, because his exultation in the supposed moral and cultural superiority of European (and specifically British) civilization makes liberal-minded readers wince. It's bad enough taking someones land but then to tell them that you're only doing for their own good is really adding insult to injusry. But the human virtues that Kipling is most concerned with - courage, duty, honor, decency, commitment and grit - he is quick to recognize in men and women from all classes and races. That he shared and promoted the near-universal prejudices of the Nineteenth Century worldview should not diminish our appreciation of his artistic achievements.
Reading Kipling introduces a few extra difficulties; born and reared in India, he liberally seasons his verse with Asian and African words, and his soldier poems are written in the lower-class dialect of the archetypical British enlisted man, dropping final "g"s and any "h"s which are normally sounded. In the selections below, the gloss on the right side of the work explains any terms not obvious to the average American reader, but because of the variables of web publishing, the glossed word may not appear directly opposite the line it refers to in any particular browser, monitor and operating system; so the reader may have to hunt a bit.