316 • Older / Wiser?

316 • Older / Wiser?

A telegram: ‘Dear Rupert Brooke,
You are older by far than you look;
Yet that Freemason, Kipling,
Still wrote like a stripling
Long after you closed your last book’.

Running pretty late this morning: self-evidently, this rhyme came into my head without any thought at all. Brooke’s name was all over the radio when I was waking – how he swam naked with Virginia Woolf, and was killed by a moquito. No comparable claim can be made about Kipling. His well-known schtick – ‘you’ll be a man, my son’ – makes decent folks heave.

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