Kipling, and particularly Kipling’s verse, has been important to me ever since I encountered it when I started to read. (There was a copy of The Jungle Book on the folks’ shelves, along with the first three Hornblower novels and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.)
When I walked through the Baen offices in Wake Forest for the first time, I saw a nice audio production set-up with a copy of The Complete Poems of Rudyard Kipling on the table under the microphones. I picked it up to see how it differed from mine (besides being 50 years newer) and (Baen editor) Tony Daniel explained that Toni Weisskopf (Baen publisher) wanted Baen authors to read a favorite Kipling poem for the Baen website. Did I have a favorite?
I have many. I picked ‘Birds of Prey’ March and read it straight out. It’s a perfect evocation of how troops feel while boarding transport for a long foreign deployment. In my case it was a DC-8 from Travis AFB in California instead of a sailing ship from Southampton (and therefore it wasn’t raining), but the important part was the same: … they will carry us away, and you’ll never see your soldier any more.
Dave reading Kipling’s poem ‘Birds of Prey’ March:
Dave used the title Birds of Prey for one of his novels.