[lit-ideas] Re: Chillianwallah

  • From: "" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" for DMARC)
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 18 Nov 2014 12:55:19 -0500

My last post today!

In a message dated 11/17/2014 9:43:11 A.M.  Eastern Standard Time, 
lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx writes:
Chillianwallah,  Chillianwallah! 
Where our brothers fought and bled, 
O thy name is  natural music 
And a dirge above the dead! 
Though we have not been  defeated, 
Though we can't be overcome, 
Still, whene'er thou art  repeated, 
I would fain that grief were dumb.
[Meredith, George  (2011-03-24). Poems — Volume 1 (Kindle Locations 1-4).  
. Kindle Edition.]  Meredith goes on to sing Chillianwallah in subsequent 
stanzas.  Maybe  Speranza can see the “natural music” in this name.  I can’t. 
 The  Battle of Chillianwallah was fought against the Sikh’s in 1849." 
 
I see.

From:
 
http://www.dawn.com/news/768607/bamba-and-sutherland
 
"In second Anglo-Sikh war, battle of Chillianwalla (a villege in Distt.  
Rahim Yar Khan) was so fierce that contemporary British poet George Meredith  
wrote a full poem on it. He never saw this battle or ever visited India but 
just  collected its horrific details from survivors in England."
 
I wonder if Meredith knew the etymology of "Chillianwallah". It's a _name_  
and this reminds me of Humpty Dumpty and Alice:
 
Humpty Dumpty: What did you say your name was?
Alice: Alice.
Humpty Dumpty: You never said such thing!
Alice: I thought you meant, 'what is your name'.
Humpty Dumpty: No. And what does it mean?
Alice: Mean what?
Humpty Dumpty: "Alice". What does the name "Alice" mean?
Alice: Must a name mean anything?
 
I guess Chillianwallah does?
 
By 'natural music', George 'The Welsh' Meredith meant something Welsh.  
'Natural music' seems to oppose to 'artificial' music?
 
Chillianwallah, Chillianwallah! 
Where our brothers fought and bled,  
O thy name is natural music 
 
but remember this is _RHYME_ (or rime), not reason, and Meredith is more  
interested in having the 'bled' scan with the 'dead' of line 4:
 
Chillianwallah, Chillianwallah! 
Where our brothers fought and bled,  
O thy name is natural music 
And a dirge above the dead! 
 
So it's perhaps wiser not to read too much onto the 'natural musicality' of 
 Chillianwallah.
 
Helm: 
"Northrop Frye in his "Antique Drum" wrote about Milton that "His rhetoric  
is that of 'the greatest of all eccentrics,' valid only for Milton himself, 
an  apotheosis of the ego.  It is full of tricks like 'the facile use of  
resonant names' which Marlowe outgrew . . . ."  And Milton apparently did  
not.  I don't know whether Meredith did or not. :)"
 
Yes, perhaps there's a facile use of resonant names in some of Meredith's  
lines -- notably the first one!
 
 But again, as the blog comment above reads, Meredith never made it to  
India, so the resonance and natural musicality of Chillianwallah may play  
different to a 'native' ear?

Cheers,

Speranza
 



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