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AN AMERICAN,
BY RUDYARD KIPLING.

The American Spirit speaks:

If the Led Striker call it a strike,
Or the papers call it a war,
They know not much what I am like,
Nor what he is, my Avatar.

Through many roads, by me possessed,
He shambles forth in cosmic guise;
He is the Jester and the Jest,
And he the Text himself applies.

The Celt is in his heart and hand,
The Gaul is in his brain and nerve;
Where, cosmopolitanly planned,
He guards the Redskinís dry reserve.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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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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"An American"

printer   Dyke Mill, Incorporated
author   Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
date   1951
location   Montague, Massachusetts
width   4.25"
height   5.5"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Communication/Poetry/Ballad/Song
accession #   #L02.029


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See Also...

"The Dyke Mill Bulletin, No. I"

"The Cabinetwork at New Clairvaux"

"The Hero", poem about George Washington


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