Friday, September 16, 2011

Weekly Inspiration: Rudyard Kipling

First off, I need to say a giant HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my mommy.  I am apparently going for "Worst (insert title here)" in all categories this week, and since I already claimed my prize for Worst Mom, I thought I'd add Worst Daughter to the list.  My mom's birthday was yesterday, and I somehow totally forgot.  I'd like to blame the fact that my brain still thinks it's August, but really there's no excuse.  So happy birthday, Mom. I love you so much!

And John, keep an eye out.  The week isn't over yet and I still have a Worst Wife crown to claim.

It's been a while since I've done one of my Weekly Inspirations, so I thought I'd leave you all with one for the weekend.  Technically, this would have been better for last week, since I read The Jungle Book on my way home from Santa Barbara, but better late than never, no?

One of the things I love about my Kindle is the free classics.  I am still finding it difficult to shell out $8.99 for an e-book when I could buy the paperback off Amazon for the same price (and then be able to pass it on to a friend or loan it to Sarah) but many classics are available for free on the Kindle, which affords me the opportunity to catch up on all the reading I would have done if I'd been an English major in college.  I went through a phase about six years ago where I tried to read as many of the books from the 100 Books Everyone Should Read list as possible, but I've still got about forty to go.  There are just too many good books in the world!

Anyway, on the flight home from Cali I downloaded The Jungle Book.  I'm probably an idiot for not realizing that stories like "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" and "The White Seal" were part of The Jungle Book (although I blame Disney partially for that).  Back when I was young, we watched the Chuck Jones cartoons of both of those stories.  I was amazed at how true to the book the films were (at least from what I remember).

What I really loved about The Jungle Book was Kipling's truly brilliant anthropomorphizing, as well as his humor.  For example, this passage about Darzee, the tailorbird, from "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi":

"Darzee was a feather-brained little fellow who could never hold more than one idea at a time in his head...But his wife was a sensible bird...So she flew off from the nest, and left Darzee to keep the babies warm, and continue his song about the death of Nag.  Darzee was very like a man in some ways."

I read "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" out loud to John as we were driving to our vacation last week, and he particularly liked this line: "The motto of all the mongoose family is 'Run and find out.'"  I asked John if we could have a pet mongoose if we move to India, but he didn't seem nearly as enthused at the idea as I was.  Can't you just see Jack running around with a pet mongoose??  Ah well, perhaps an elephant, then...

And lastly, Kipling's poem, If:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!


Sarah said...

He really was a brilliant writer. You'll have to read these to Jack in a few years:

kerry2642 said...

Oh yes Mara.. how well I remember The Jungle Book and Rikki Tikki.Tavi.. and hopw I remember reading them to Zak.. Great blog as usual.. and in my book you are still a Great Mom.. Wife and Daughter!!! :)