Rudyard Kipling and Monadnock

From 1892 through 1896, Rudyard Kipling lived in Brattleboro, Vermont. His house there, named by him Naulakha, afforded spectacular views of Mount Monadnock, which helped inspire him to write The Jungle Books and Captains Courageous. As an indication of the effect that the mountain had on him, the very first of his Letters of Travel (in From Tideway to Tideway, 1892) is entitled "In Sight of Monadnock" and contains the following passage:

Beyond the very furthest range, where the pines turn to a faint blue haze against the one solitary peak — a real mountain and not a hill — showed like a gigantic thumbnail pointing heavenward.

"And that's Monadnock," said the man from the West; "all the hills have Indian names. You left Wantastiquet on your right coming out of town."

You know how it often happens that a word shuttles in and out of many years, waking all sorts of incongruous associations. I had met Monadnock on paper in a shameless parody of Emerson's style, before ever style or verse had interest for me. But the word stuck because of a rhyme, in which one was

        . . . crowned coeval
With Monadnock's crest,
And my wings extended
Touch the East and West.

Later the same word, pursued on the same principle as that blessed one Mesopotamia, led me to and through Emerson, up to his poem on the peak itself — the wise old giant "busy with his sky affairs," who makes us sane and sober and free from little things if we trust him. So Monadnock came to mean everything that was helpful, healing, and full of quiet, and when I saw him half across New Hampshire he did not fail.