Dozens of unpublished poems by Rudyard Kipling have been discovered, nearly 80 years after the author’s death.
American scholar Thomas Pinney found more than 50 works by the Nobel laureate in a number of different locations, including a Manhattan home which was being renovated, the archive of a former head of the Cunard Line and buried among Kipling’s family papers, reports the BBC.
The poet and short story writer, who was born in Mumbai, lived from 1865 to 1936. His best-known works include the Jungle Book and the poem If–.
The Guardian reports that some of the newly-discovered poems date from the First World War — which Kipling at first supported, before his son John was killed at the battle of Loos in 1915.
One poem, “The Gambler”, ends with the couplet: “Three times wounded; three times gassed / Three times wrecked – I lost at last”.
There are also examples of Kipling’s comic verse, including an example written on a ship sailing from Adelaide, Australia to Sri Lanka) believed to have been read aloud by Kipling to his fellow passengers:
“It was a ship of the P&O / Put forth to sail the sea,” he wrote, going on to express frustration at the slowness of the journey. “The children played on the rotten deck / A monthly growing band / Of sea-bred sin born innocents / That never knew the land.”
Many of Kipling’s works, such as the Just So Stories, are regarded as enduring classics. But for 20th-century audiences, his work carried a strong and unpleasant whiff of British imperialism “in its expansionist phase,” as George Orwell, one of his fiercest critics, put it. “It is no use pretending that Kipling’s view of life, as a whole, can be accepted or even forgiven by any civilized person,” Orwell wrote in a 1942 essay.
“Kipling has long been neglected by scholars probably for political reasons,” Pinney, who is emeritus professor of English at the University of California, told the Guardian.
“His texts have never properly been studied but things are starting to change. There is a treasure trove of uncollected, unpublished and unidentified work out there… It is a tremendously exciting time for scholars and for fans of Kipling.”