Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I have completely forgotten Rudyard Kipling. This is significant for two reasons. It was he who helped me understand the art of poetry. Eggs, wheelbarrows and circles never made any sense to me. I was fortunate to have superb teachers growing up. For me the public school system was the best schooling I ever received. I also took all the honor and AP classes I could get my hands on. I did poorly in every class but those. I mention all this because it applies to poetry. In the 8th grade we began our study of poetry. I hated poetry. What's the point of studying something when 70% of the population interprets it wrong anyway? How am I supposed to know a chicken a wheelbarrow mean renewal? It seems like a stretch to me. It wasn't until my twelfth grade year when we were reviewing for our AP exams that I finally caught on. I remember reciting my Rudyard Kipling poem in front of the class and as I was giving my 'academic' thoughts to the class, I finally understood Poetry. It didn't hurt that my poem was a huge hit.
When Earth's last picture is painted, and the tubes are twisted and dried,
When the oldest colours have faded, and the youngest critic has died,
We shall rest, and, faith, we shall need it - lie down for an aeon or two,
Till the Master of All Good Workman shall set us to work anew!

And those that were good shall be happy: they shall sit in a golden chair;
They shall splash at a ten-league canvas with brushes of comets' hair;
They shall find real saints to draw from- Magdalene, Peter, and Paul;
They shall work for an age at a sitting and never be tired at all!

And only the Master shall praise us, and only the Master shall blame;
And no one shall work for money, and no one shall work for fame;
Bust each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star,
Shall draw the Thing as he sees It for the God of Things as They Are!

~Rudyard Kipling~
My mother owned an old copy of Rudyard Kipling's poetry I used to read as a kid. It made absolutely no sense to me. It was mostly all nautical. I remember the green embossing on the thick pages and the creak of the binding. It was that book that made me love Sam Weller's old book section on Main Street downtown Salt Lake which then lead to a full blown obsession with bookstores. It was all uphill from there.