'What Happened' by Rudyard Kipling
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Hurree Chunder Mookerjee, pride of Bow Bazaar,
Owner of a native press, "Barrishter-at-Lar,"
Waited on the Government with a claim to wear
Sabres by the bucketful, rifles by the pair.
Then the Indian Government winked a wicked wink,
Said to Chunder Mookerjee: "Stick to pen and ink.
They are safer implements, but, if you insist,
We will let you carry arms wheresoe'er you list."
Hurree Chunder Mookerjee sought the gunsmith and
Bought the tubes of Lancaster, Ballard, Dean, and Bland,
Bought a shiny bowie-knife, bought a town-made sword,
Jingled like a carriage-horse when he went abroad.
But the Indian Government, always keen to please,
Also gave permission to horrid men like these --
Yar Mahommed Yusufzai, down to kill or steal,
Chimbu Singh from Bikaneer, Tantia the Bhil;
Killar Khan the Marri chief, Jowar Singh the Sikh,
Nubbee Baksh Punjabi Jat, Abdul Huq Rafiq --
He was a Wahabi; last, little Boh Hla-oo
Took advantage of the Act -- took a Snider too.
They were unenlightened men, Ballard knew them not.
They procured their swords and guns chiefly on the spot;
And the lore of centuries, plus a hundred fights,
Made them slow to disregard one another's rights.
With a unanimity dear to patriot hearts
All those hairy gentlemen out of foreign parts
Said: "The good old days are back -- let us go to war!"
Swaggered down the Grand Trunk Road into Bow Bazaar,
Nubbee Baksh Punjabi Jat found a hide-bound flail;
Chimbu Singh from Bikaneer oiled his Tonk jezail;
Yar Mahommed Yusufzai spat and grinned with glee
As he ground the butcher-knife of the Khyberee.
Jowar Singh the Sikh procured sabre, quoit, and mace,
Abdul Huq, Wahabi, jerked his dagger from its place,
While amid the jungle-grass danced and grinned and jabbered
Little Boh Hla-oo and cleared his dah-blade from the scabbard.
What became of Mookerjee? Smoothly, who can say?
Yar Mahommed only grins in a nasty way,
Jowar Singh is reticent, Chimbu Singh is mute.
But the belts of all of them simply bulge with loot.
What became of Ballard's guns? Afghans black and grubby
Sell them for their silver weight to the men of Pubbi;
And the shiny bowie-knife and the town-made sword are
Hanging in a Marri camp just across the Border.
What became of Mookerjee? Ask Mahommed Yar
Prodding Siva's sacred bull down the Bow Bazaar.
Speak to placid Nubbee Baksh -- question land and sea --
Ask the Indian Congressmen -- only don't ask me!
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Masterpiece That is Rudyard Kipling's What Happened
Have you ever read a poem that left you breathless, filled with a sense of awe and wonder? A poem that took your soul on a journey through time and space, and left you feeling like you had just experienced something truly transcendental? That is the power of Rudyard Kipling's "What Happened."
The Context of the Poem
Rudyard Kipling, born in India in 1865, was a prolific writer who is widely considered one of the greatest authors in the English language. Kipling's literary works range from novels and short stories to poetry, and his unique style has captivated readers for generations.
"What Happened" is a poem that was first published in Kipling's collection, "The Five Nations," in 1903. The poem tells the story of a soldier who has returned home from war, only to find that the world he left behind has changed irrevocably.
The Interpretation of the Poem
At its core, "What Happened" is a meditation on the nature of change and the toll that war takes on those who fight it. The poem is structured around a series of contrasts between the soldier's memories of the past and his experiences in the present. These contrasts highlight the ways in which the world has changed, both for the soldier and for society as a whole.
Kipling employs a variety of literary devices to convey the emotional impact of these changes. The poem is full of vivid imagery and sensory details that bring the soldier's memories to life. In contrast, the present is described in a more abstract and impersonal manner, emphasizing the soldier's sense of disorientation and alienation.
The poem also uses repetition and parallelism to create a sense of symmetry and balance. For example, the opening stanza begins with the line "I have done mostly what most men do," while the final stanza ends with the line "I have done mostly what most men have done." This repetition creates a sense of circularity, suggesting that the soldier's experiences are not unique but rather part of a larger pattern of human experience.
The final stanza of the poem is particularly striking. Here, the soldier reflects on his experiences and concludes that "Nothing is ever quite the same." This line encapsulates the central theme of the poem, namely the idea that change is an inevitable and inescapable part of life.
The Literary Criticism of the Poem
One of the things that makes "What Happened" such a powerful poem is its ability to convey complex emotions and ideas in a concise and accessible manner. Kipling's use of vivid imagery and sensory details allows the reader to experience the soldier's memories and emotions firsthand, while his repetition and parallelism create a sense of coherence and unity throughout the poem.
Another noteworthy aspect of the poem is its use of contrasts and juxtapositions. By highlighting the differences between the soldier's past and present, Kipling creates a sense of tension and conflict that drives the poem forward. This tension is resolved in the final stanza, where the soldier comes to a realization about the nature of change that is both profound and universal.
Overall, "What Happened" is a masterful work of poetry that explores themes of memory, loss, and the nature of change. Its vivid imagery, mastery of literary techniques, and powerful emotional impact make it a timeless classic that continues to resonate with readers today.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
What Happened: A Masterpiece of Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling, the renowned English author, poet, and journalist, is known for his exceptional works that have left an indelible mark on the literary world. One of his most celebrated poems, "What Happened," is a masterpiece that captures the essence of life and its unpredictable nature. The poem is a reflection of Kipling's own experiences and observations, and it resonates with readers of all ages and backgrounds.
The poem begins with a simple yet powerful statement, "I have been to the village, and seen the world." This line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as it suggests that the speaker has gained a new perspective on life after visiting the village. The speaker then goes on to describe the various things he saw and experienced in the village, from the "dust and heat" to the "laughter and tears."
Throughout the poem, Kipling uses vivid imagery and descriptive language to paint a picture of the village and its inhabitants. He describes the "brown-faced men" and "barefooted boys" who work in the fields, as well as the "women with pitchers" who fetch water from the well. Kipling's use of sensory details, such as the "smell of the cow-dung smoke" and the "sound of the temple-bells," creates a vivid and immersive experience for the reader.
As the poem progresses, the speaker reflects on the lessons he learned during his visit to the village. He realizes that life is full of ups and downs, and that one must learn to accept both the good and the bad. He observes that "joy and sorrow are woven fine" and that "love and death shall be." These lines suggest that life is a delicate balance between happiness and sadness, and that one must learn to appreciate both in order to truly live.
Kipling also touches on the theme of social inequality in the poem. He describes the "rich man's son" who rides by on his horse, and contrasts him with the "poor man's son" who must walk barefoot. This juxtaposition highlights the disparities that exist in society, and suggests that one's social status should not determine their worth as a human being.
The poem concludes with a powerful message of hope and resilience. The speaker declares that he will "take what fate or the gods may send" and that he will "not complain nor cry aloud." This statement suggests that one must learn to accept their fate and make the best of their circumstances, no matter how difficult they may be.
In conclusion, "What Happened" is a timeless masterpiece that captures the essence of life and its unpredictable nature. Kipling's use of vivid imagery, descriptive language, and powerful themes make this poem a must-read for anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of the human experience. Whether you are a seasoned reader or a newcomer to poetry, "What Happened" is sure to leave a lasting impression on your heart and mind.
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