Let us move a little away from Kipling and empire, and consider the Victorians among whom he lived. The times were more difficult than modern historians would have you consider. There were many who were abused, accursed.
To a sister of an enemy of the author’s who disapproved of ‘The Playboy’
Lord, confound this surly sister,
Blight her brow with blotch and blister,
Cramp her larynx, lung, and liver,
In her guts a galling give her.
Let her live to earn her dinners
In Mountjoy with seedy sinners:
Lord, this judgment quickly bring,
And I’m your servant, J. M. Synge.
J. M. Synge
And some who lost. Rossetti did not lack mother-wit, nor encouragement. She has words and tears. But she is discussing the burnt out state of modernity. Progress had led to the Dark Satanic Mills of Blake being seen as good: indeed the post moderns celebrate the industrial architecture the Victorians saw as cheap and ugly. But her poem pleads for revival.
I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numb’d too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimm’d with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me.
My life is like a faded leaf,
My harvest dwindled to a husk:
Truly my life is void and brief
And tedious in the barren dusk;
My life is like a frozen thing,
No bud nor greenness can I see:
Yet rise it shall—the sap of Spring;
O Jesus, rise in me.
My life is like a broken bowl,
A broken bowl that cannot hold
One drop of water for my soul
Or cordial in the searching cold;
Cast in the fire the perish’d thing;
Melt and remould it, till it be
A royal cup for Him, my King:
O Jesus, drink of me.