Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

An Example Of What I Meant...

At the climax of "The Incarnation of Krishna Mulvaney"- a heartless yarn about heartless men behaving heartlessly- Mulvaney, the drunken Irish squaddie, escapes from a temple full of high caste Hindu women by pretending to be the god Krishna.  So far, so farcical. But Mulvaney knows that the women are there to pray for children- and is himself the father of a child that died. As he exits sideways, draped in the silk lining he's ripped out of a palanqueen and tootling on a beer bottle, he sees how one of the "darlin's" is working her fingers "one in another as if she wanted to touch my feet. So I dhrew the tail av this pink overcoat over her head for the greater honour, an' I slid into the dhark on the other side av the temple". Suddenly- in the middle of all the brazenness and cynicism- we have a entirely gratuitous moment of connection between one human being and another- which we don't linger on because an instant later Mulvaney is roughing up the temple priest for cash. The story doesn't need this touch of grace. It would be entirely effective without it. But the sudden change of register- Shakespearian in its daring-  lifts it from effectiveness into greatness. This is an example of what I meant when I spoke of Kipling as essentially a poet- and  a reason why I love him.
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