We tried making Rudyard Kipling correct for the 21st Century reader. It did not end well

DailyBiteFeb 20, 2023 | 16:00

We tried making Rudyard Kipling correct for the 21st Century reader. It did not end well

If you have been following the biggest news from the literature world this week, it is what Puffin, the publishers, and the Roald Dahl Estate have been doing to the British writer's works. The 20th Century writer is known for his books, that famous book on that chocolate factory that Johnny Depp made famous for the 21st Century, and a series of children's books that children are finding increasingly hard to read, thanks to the publishers Puffin.


So, taking a leaf out of perhaps James Finn Garner who re-wrote our Bedtime Stories as Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: Modern Tales For Our Life & Times in 1994, Puffin has set out to make Roald Dahl politically correct for readers of this generation.

Puffin Books has censored Roald Dahl. Image: Dall E
Puffin Books has censored Roald Dahl. Image: Dall E

The furore on Twitter was every bit justified. Even author Salman Rushdie joined in with his two bits: Roald Dahl was no angel but this is absurd censorship. Puffin Books and the Dahl estate should be ashamed.

So, we set out to rewrite, umm, woke-wash, Rudyard Kipling's famous poem, Gunga Din so that it be deemed okay by the Sensitivity Police.

Here's how it turned out. 

Gunga Din


You may talk o’ gin and beer light and hard liquor   
When you’re quartered safe out ’ere,   
An’ you’re sent to penny-fights an’ Aldershot it;
But when it comes to slaughter    
You will do your work on water,
An’ you’ll lick the bloomin’ boots of ’im that’s got it.   
Now in Injia’s India's sunny clime tropically correct weather   
Where I used to spend my time   
A-servin’ of ’Er Majesty the Queen,   
Of all them blackfaced whatthe@&***! crew  
The finest man I knew
Was our regimental bhisti water carrier, Gunga Din,   
      He was ‘Din! Din! Din!
   ‘You limpin’ lump o’ brick-dust differently abled man of the earth, Gunga Din!
      ‘Hi! Slippy hitherao Please come here
      ‘Water, get it! Panee lao Kindly fetch me some water,
   ‘You squidgy-nosed old idol moist-nosed-perhaps-due-to-a-cold senior idol, Gunga Din.’


(the editor has resigned)

Regardless, if you still want to read the rest of the poem by Rudyard Kipling, here's it - the original, uncensored version: 

The uniform ’e wore
Was nothin’ much before,
An’ rather less than ’arf o’ that be’ind,
For a piece o’ twisty rag   
An’ a goatskin water-bag
Was all the field-equipment ’e could find.
When the sweatin’ troop-train lay
In a sidin’ through the day,
Where the ’eat would make your bloomin’ eyebrows crawl,
We shouted (pleaded) ‘Harry By!’
Till our throats were bricky-dry,
Then we wopped ’im (reproached him) ’cause ’e couldn’t serve us all.
      It was ‘Din! Din! Din!
   ‘You ’eathen, where the mischief ’ave you been?   
      ‘You put some juldee in it
      ‘Or I’ll marrow you this minute
   ‘If you don’t fill up my helmet, Gunga Din!’

’E would dot an’ carry one
Till the longest day was done;
An’ ’e didn’t seem to know the use o’ fear.
If we charged or broke or cut,
You could bet your bloomin’ nut,
’E’d be waitin’ fifty paces right flank rear.   
With ’is mussick on ’is back,
’E would skip with our attack,
An’ watch us till the bugles made 'Retire,’   
An’ for all ’is dirty ’ide
’E was white, clear white, inside
When ’e went to tend the wounded under fire!   
      It was ‘Din! Din! Din!’
   With the bullets kickin’ dust-spots on the green.   
      When the cartridges ran out,
      You could hear the front-ranks shout,   
   ‘Hi! ammunition-mules an' Gunga Din!’


I shan’t forgit the night
When I dropped be’ind the fight
With a bullet where my belt-plate should ’a’ been.   
I was chokin’ mad with thirst,
An’ the man that spied me first
Was our good old grinnin’, gruntin’ Gunga Din.   
’E lifted up my ’ead,
An’ he plugged me where I bled,
An’ ’e guv me ’arf-a-pint o’ water green.
It was crawlin’ and it stunk,
But of all the drinks I’ve drunk,
I’m gratefullest to one from Gunga Din.
      It was 'Din! Din! Din!
   ‘’Ere’s a beggar with a bullet through ’is spleen;   
   ‘’E's chawin’ up the ground,
      ‘An’ ’e’s kickin’ all around:
   ‘For Gawd’s sake git the water, Gunga Din!’

’E carried me away
To where a dooli lay,
An’ a bullet come an’ drilled the beggar clean.   
’E put me safe inside,
An’ just before ’e died,
'I ’ope you liked your drink,’ sez Gunga Din.   
So I’ll meet ’im later on
At the place where ’e is gone—
Where it’s always double drill and no canteen.   
’E’ll be squattin’ on the coals
Givin’ drink to poor damned souls,
An’ I’ll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!   
      Yes, Din! Din! Din!
   You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!   
   Though I’ve belted you and flayed you,   
      By the livin’ Gawd that made you,
   You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

Maybe Kipling did go to hell, after all.

Last updated: February 20, 2023 | 16:00
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