Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was, as T.S. Eliot recognised, a supreme ballad-maker, a storyteller who relished the adventures and characters encountered in the wide world, and a man whose sympathies lay with those whose work and dedication sustained civic and political institutions. With humour, rhythmical skill and a gift for the unforgettable phrase, Kipling's poems have passed into common currency: 'If -', 'Mandalay', 'Gunga Din'... Harry Ricketts includes these in his selection, and many more. He also introduces a less familiar Kipling, lyrical, funny, compassionate, capable of bleak and savage satire. Often seen only as a laureate of empire, Kipling also speaks for the dispossessed and the victims of war. His fingerprints, Ricketts writes, 'are smudged all over twentieth-century literature': he affected Sassoon, Joyce, Auden and Brecht, and he still provides the necessary words at times of crisis.