I’ve sung a few of Peter Bellamy’s settings of Rudyard Kipling already. The plan for the next few weeks is to get a few more done, and where possible to make links with traditional songs.
And where better to start than with this, Puck’s introduction – both of himself and of the deep history of England. There’s something cosy and reactionary about Kipling’s endless celebration of England, but also something enduringly strange. It’s not simply a matter of digging into the national history to demonstrate, Arthur Mee-ishly, that everything’s for the best in the best of all possible countries. There’s also a sense of being helplessly in love with everything about the country, past and present – all the way back to “the lines the Flint Men made to guard their wondrous towns”. The sense of history as something that’s left its traces on the landscape – something that’s still here – has never been conveyed more powerfully.
Accompaniment: C whistle and a concertina I’m still getting to grips with. There are also bees.