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Kipling Haunted by the Ghost of Pushkin

No one, not even the Government, knows the number of islands in the Sound. Even now you can get one almost for the asking; can build a house, raise sheep, catch salmon, and become a king on a small scale.

When Kipling left Seattle’s ashes
Behind and navigated north
Toward Vancouver, gentle splashes
At prow and rocking back and forth
With island views at every turning,
The ghost of Pushkin, spirit yearning
To flow again in blood and ink,
Appeared to him and bade him think
About the island kingdom every
Moran or Murphy might create
From fire of love and ash of hate
Away from worldly woe and thievery —
But only to flame up like hay
When lightning strikes on Judgement Day.

[image source]


  1. Quin Finnegan says:

    Well, okay, this is very fine. But the deal was over who got it up first!

  2. Not…sure…what…Quin…is…saying…here…but I really enjoy this further riff on the Kipling connection.

    In particular:

    the island kingdom every
    Moran or Murphy might create
    From fire of love and ash of hate
    Away from worldly woe and thievery –

    In your next, perhaps tell us “why” Seattle inspires Kipling to think of Pushkin (besides the chronological association). Maybe a duel Kipling saw in Seattle? (Someone’s got to have a duel in this story!) or Russian immigrants landing in Puget? or… what?

    Some ideas: Could Back meet Kipling a la “Man Who Would Be King” in a bar after the fact, explaining why the Seattle fire was not altogether accidental… Or if you don’t want to play around with facts, perhaps Back is relating to Kipling how the fire affected him and how it induced Back to fight a duel with his rival in love or whatever…?

    Just some ideas.


  3. Jonathan Potter says:

    I challenged Quin to a sonnet duel last night. The challenge was who could post first, and he won by 45 min.

    I like your thought process re. Back somehow meeting Kipling. And you’re right, there’s got to be a duel at some point.

  4. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says:

    The poem is nice, but the picture is unflattering, though an accurate likeness.


  5. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says:

    But no, I’ve never been to Seattle, it sounds lovely but it looks unpleasant; someone said it had ‘the colour of a mushroom’s underside’, and I can remember cackling, despite the horrified reactions of the other passengers.

    Occasionally I think of Leningrad, although in some sense it no longer exists.

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