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"An American"

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Rudyard Kipling was in London in 1892 when he met Wolcott Balestier, an American author and publisher. He married his sister, Caroline, and the couple moved to Brattleboro, Vermont, her family's home. He lived there for seven years, producing some of his most famous works including the two Jungle Books. "An American" was part of one of his most prized poetry collections, "The Seven Seas," published January, 1897. It may have been written as he was becoming disillusioned with life in Vermont and with his brother-in-law, a falling out that led to his return to England in 1896. The poem speaks in the voice of the "America Spirit," characterized by Kipling as contradictory, childish, and grandiose but nonetheless almost fearless before "th' embarrassed Gods" or "the iron hand of Fate." This printing was made in 1951 by Carl Rollins at the Dyke Mill, a printing press in Montague, Massachusetts. Rollins may have seen some parallels between the America at the turn of the century, tremulously poised at the brink of empire, and the America of 1951, victorious from World War II but newly insecure in the teeth of the Cold War.


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