[words Rudyard Kipling, music Peter Bellamy]
Rudyard Kipling wrote En-Dor in 1919 after the First World War. Peter Bellamy sang it in 1989 on his album Rudyard Kipling Made Exceedingly Good Songs. He commented in the sleeve notes:
The slaughter of the First World War provided a bonanza for the fraudulent spiritualists who preyed on the bereaved. Kipling, whose only son died in action, noted under the title of this poem: “Behold there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at En-Dor” 1 Samuel XXVIII 7.
The road to En-Dor is easy to tread
For Mother or yearning Wife.
There, it is sure, we shall meet our Dead
As they were even in life.
Earth has not dreamed of the blessing in store
For desolate hearts on the road to En-Dor.
Whispers shall comfort us out of the dark—
Hands—ah God!—that we knew!
Visions and voices—look and heark!—
Shall prove that our tale is true,
And that those who have passed to the further shore
May be hailed—at a price—on the road to En-Dor.
But they are so deep in their new eclipse
Nothing they say can reach,
Unless it be uttered by alien lips
And framed in a stranger's speech.
The son must send word to the mother that bore,
Through an hireling's mouth. 'Tis the rule of En-Dor.
And not for nothing these gifts are shown
By such as delight our dead.
They must twitch and stiffen and slaver a groan
Ere the eyes are set in the head,
And the voice from the belly begins. Therefore
We pay them a wage where they ply at En-Dor.
Even so, we have need of faith
And patience to follow the clue.
Often, at first, what the dear one saith
Is babble, or jest, or untrue.
(Lying spirits perplex us sore
Till our loves—and our lives—are well known at En-Dor)…
Oh the road to En-Dor is the oldest road
And the craziest road of all!
Straight it runs to the Witch's abode,
As it did in the days of Saul,
And nothing has changed of the sorrow in store
For such as go down on the road to En-Dor!