Saturday Poem – Jane’s Marriage

This week’s pick is possibly a little heavy on the cheese but it seemed too good a pick to skip for Austen in August.  Rudyard Kipling was a well-known Jane Austen fan, writing the hilarious story The Janeites about a Tommy who inadvertently moved up in society through a misunderstanding whereby his senior officer thought he was an Austen fan.  Kipling believed Winchester to be a ‘hallowed’ place since it was there that Austen was laid to rest and while this poem may appear slightly tongue in cheek, it seems Kipling wanted to grant her in death what she never had in life – the love of her ideal man, who Kipling nominates as Captain Wentworth.

Jane’s Marriage

Jane went to Paradise:
That was only fair.
Good Sir Walter followed her,
And armed her up the stair.
Henry and Tobias,
And Miguel of Spain,
Stood with Shakespeare at the top
To welcome Jane –

Then the Three Archangels
Offered out of hand
Anything in Heaven’s gift
That she might command.
Azrael’s eyes upon her,
Raphael’s wings above,
Michael’s sword against her heart,
Jane said: “Love.”

Instantly the under-
Standing Seraphim
Laid their fingers on their lips
And went to look for him.
Stole across the Zodiac,
Harnessed Charles’s Wain,
And whispered round the Nebulae
“Who loved Jane?”

In a private limbo
Where none had thought to look,
Sat a Hampshire gentleman
Reading of a book.
It was called Persuasion
And it told the plain
Story of the love between
Him and Jane.

He heard the question,
Circle Heaven through –
Closed the book and answered:  “I did – and do!”
Quietly but speedily
(As Captain Wentworth moved)
Entered into Paradise
The man Jane loved!

Jane lies in Winchester, blessed be her shade!
Praise the Lord for making her, and her for all she made.
And while the stones of Winchester – or Milson Street – remain,
Glory, Love, and Honour unto England’s Jane!

Rudyard Kipling

For past Saturday Poems, take a look at the archive in Poetry Please.

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