Elephant crossing the Limpopo
.. the Limpopo in the dry season .. showing the ribbon of river separating South Africa and Zimbabwe
Rudyard Kipling wrote wonderful stories and poems for children .. and you'll know some of them as Disney films .. Jungle Book, Mowgli (2nd Jungle book) .. or other earlier films .. his life is really interesting as he was born in 1865 in India travelling between there and England .. he was the son of an art teacher and nephew of two of the greatest late Victorian painters - Sir Edward Burne-Jones and Sir Edward Poynter ; however he started life as a journalist at 17 back in India.
He turned his hand to writing poetry and short stories and was published in both areas. By 1889, when he gave up his job to go back to the UK, his reputation was such that he could become a full time writer.
He married the sister of his American publicity agent, Carrie Balestier, on 18 January 1892, in London, (per Wikipedia) in the "thick of an influenza epidemic, when the undertakers had run out of black horses and the dead had to be content with brown ones." They travelled extensively .. USA, Japan, England, South Africa, India .. and as you would expect from me - I've just seen so many other interesting facets about him, when I'm home and in due course I'll do some other posts.
Today as I promised in my journey of surprises post is the story of The Elephant's Child, which starts ...
In the High and Far-Off Times the Elephant, O Best Beloved, had no trunk. He had only a blackish, bulgy nose, as big as a boot, that he could wriggle about from side to side; but he couldn't pick up things with it. But there was one Elephant--a new Elephant--an Elephant's Child--who was full of 'satiable curtiosity, and that means he asked ever so many questions.
And he lived in Africa, and he filled all Africa with his 'satiable curtiosities. He asked his tall aunt, the Ostrich, why her tail-feathers grew just so, and his tall aunt the Ostrich spanked him with her hard, hard claw. He asked his tall uncle, the Giraffe, what made his skin spotty, and his tall uncle, the Giraffe, spanked him with his hard, hard hoof. And still he was full of 'satiable curtiosity!
He asked his broad aunt, the Hippopotamus, why her eyes were red, and his broad aunt, the Hippopotamus, spanked him with her broad, broad hoof; and he asked his hairy uncle, the Baboon, why melons tasted just so, and his hairy uncle, the Baboon, spanked him with his hairy, hairy paw. And still he was full of 'satiable curtiosity! He asked questions about everything that he saw, or heard, or felt, or smelt, or touched, and all his uncles and his aunts spanked him. And still he was full of 'satiable curtiosity!
Please see the rest of the story here - I loved these stories as a child .. and now re-reading them .. one can evoke the feeling and emotion of the extraordinariness of them, but how true .. and fabled they have become .. (the elephant's child reaching for bananas - woodcut illustration is above)
In my earlier post .. there's a woodcut illustration of the elephant child's trunk being pulled .. with Kipling's artistic description thus.. it is just so (how appropriate Just So Stories) accurate and his illustrations are superb:
THIS is the Elephant's Child having his nose pulled by the Crocodile. He is much surprised and astonished and hurt, and he is talking through his nose and saying, 'Led go! You are hurtig be!' He is pulling very hard, and so is the Crocodile: but the Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake is hurrying through the water to help the Elephant's Child. All that black stuff is the banks of the great grey-green greasy Limpopo River (but I am not allowed to paint these pictures), and the bottly-tree with the twisty roots and the eight leaves is one of the fever-trees that grow there.
Underneath the truly picture are shadows of African animals walking into an African ark. There are two lions, two ostriches, two oxen, two camels, two sheep, and two other things that look like rats, but I think they are rock-rabbits. They don't mean anything. I put them in because I thought they looked pretty. They would look very fine if I were allowed to paint them.
Thank you for being around for us while I travel Mr Postman .. it's being a good trip .. lots to learn and lovely people to meet ..