Last night, on my “Fans of Rudyard Kipling” fan page on Facebook, I had a message from a fan of Kipling’s poetry who lives in India.
Can you please explain the poem ‘The Comforters’ of our dear Rudyard Kipling?I pondered too much over it but failed to understand completely..
but I, kind of, need to understand it, for its impressing initial lines…
Kindly, please please help me!
Waiting for favourable reply!
Local time 7:01 AM
Studied at University of Allahabad
Lives in Allahabad, India
From Mau, India
Until thy feet have trod the Road
Advise not wayside folk,
Nor till thy back has borne the Load
Break in upon the Broke.
Chase not with undesired largesse
Of sympathy the heart
Which, knowing her own bitterness,
Presumes to dwell apart.
Employ not that glad hand to raise
The God-forgotten head
To Heaven, and all the neighbours’ gaze—
Cover thy mouth instead.
The quivering chin, the bitten lip,
The cold and sweating brow,
Later may yearn for fellowship—
Not now, you ass, not now!
Time, not thy ne’er so timely speech,
Life, not thy views thereon,
Shall furnish or deny to each
Or, if impelled to interfere,
Exhort, uplift, advise,
Lend not a base, betraying ear
To all the victim’s cries.
Only the Lord can understand
When those first pangs begin,
How much is reflex action and
How much is really sin.
E’en from good words thyself refrain,
And tremblingly admit
There is no anodyne for pain
Except the shock of it.
So, when thine own dark hour shall fall,
Unchallenged canst thou say :
‘I never worried you at all,
For God’s sake go away!’
I find that many of Kipling’s most ardent fans live in India. This person really seemed to need an answer right away, so I answered at once:
“Fans of Rudyard Kipling:
The poem means that when people are suffering, in pain or grieving, and they do not want your help or sympathy, you should leave them alone. They might be ready for your friendship at a later date, but not now. Show respect for their wishes and don’t try to cheer them up. You will be thankful when your time to suffer comes, if they do not bother you.”
This is something Kipling understood, but so many well meaning people do not. Good intentions do not mitigate the harm that is caused by unsolicited “comforting” words and deeds.
If you enjoy Kipling’s poetry, you will like OUR LADY OF KAIFENG.