"The Story of Ung"



1894

(notes by
John McGivering


the poem


[January 15th 2017]

Publication

First published in the The Idler Magazne, December 1894, and in the New York World December 2nd 1894. ORG No. 613.

Collected in:
  • The Seven Seas (1896)
  • Inclusive Verse (1919)
  • Definitive Verse (1940)
  • Sussex Edition Vol. 33 p. 98
  • Burwash Edition Vol. 26
  • Wordsworth Edition (2001)
  • Cambridge Edition (2013 Ed. Pinney) p. 401
It is also illustrated by Heath Robinson, in a Doubleday, Page edition of 1910.

The poem

The artist begins to doubt if his work is really good, much as the Devil worries the protagonist of "The Conundrum of the Workshops", and consults his father who gives him good advice, much as Kipling consultws his father on many occasions.

See also "In the Neolithic Age", where it is firmly laid down that:
There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays
And-every-single-one of-them-is-right !


Notes on the Text


[Verse 3]

Auroch an ancient breed of cattle that became extinct in the Bronze Age

mammoth a large woolly elephant-like creature of the Pleistocene Age. (see above).

[Verse 5]

Mastodon another extinct elephant-like creature

Bow-head a species of whale (Balaena mysticetus) living in Arctic and sub-Arctic waters.

[Verse 8]

needles an echo of Gilbert and Sullivan's "Patience" (1881) 'The needles opened their well-drilled eyes' (Grosvenor's song in Act II)

ouches brooches or belt-buckles.

[Verse 9]

trammels fishing-nets.

[Verse 10]

houghing hamstringing or hocking - cutting three muscles between the knee and the thigh, thus rendering the victim not only lame, but liable to die from loss of blood. Used in warfare, see "Fuzzy-Wuzzy" Verse 1; 'E squatted in the scrub and 'ocked our 'orses'

[Verse 13]

Dordogne a particularly beautiful amd historic Department of central France renowned for splendid mediaeval architecture, excellent food and drink, and neolithic remains. Why it is marked 'lost' is not clear unless this is a reference to the time when it was part of the territories of King Richard the Lion-Heart of England . The limestone caves along the Dordogne river contain prehistoric wall-paintings that might well have been carried out by "Ung" !

mammoth editions a play on words - very large printings of books , or in this instance, a lot of carvings. There is a celebrated Grotte des mammouths (cave of the mammoths) at Rouffignac in this region, full of such carvings.


[J McG]

ŠJohn McGivering 2017 All rights reserved