Known now more for his jungle book, Joseph Rudyard Kipling was perhaps the earliest Indian-born Nobel laureate.
A diehard defender of colonialism, Kipling remains a controversial figure who can inspire passionate disagreement. Kipling’s place in literary history is far from settled and as an example, one would most choose to disagree with his biased poem on Madras, where he compares the city to an old lady musing on its past greatness.
Completed after August 1892, his ‘Song of the cities’ is a cluster of poems that celebrate the great cities of the British Empire (most like Madras which he probably never visited).
Clive kissed me on the mouth and eyes and brow,Wonderful kisses, so that I becameCrowned above Queens — a withered beldame now,Brooding on ancient fame…
While Kipling laments the doomsday of the city, Madras reared to go and in the next century exhibits its resilience.