Serendipity: Milton Campbell

I’m sure some of you know Milton Campbell from Stratton St. Margaret. You’ll understand the link here with his first name, Milton. When his parents named him after the great poet, John Milton, it could’ve been a millstone around his considerable neck, or a lifetime with a great conversation opener. He opted for the latter.

Milton had a busy life in Swindon – turner on the railways, technical writer, maintenance engineer, and had a shop before retirement. He’s also an active poetry reader. His favourite poet is Rudyard Kipling who wrote The Jungle Book. When Milton comes along to Open Mikes I always read one of Kipling’s poems for both our pleasures.

And then the other day another old friend, Bill, said: “You’re a poet, Maurice, so maybe you can help me locate a poem.” Bill told a story about an English teacher who regularly read poems out loud and one line from those days was rattling his brain: “And the dawn comes up like thunder.” I knew it immediately because Milton and I had recently read it. Here’s a taster from “Mandalay” by Kipling:

Come you back to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay:
Can’t you ‘ear their paddles chunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay?
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!

I love the serendipity of those links. Next time you meet Milton at the pub, the bookies or on his daily walk ask him about Kipling and prepare to be well entertained.

First published in Swindon Link

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