“Poetry Afternoon”

Who has not heard of Rudyard Kipling, as someone once said to me “what you mean he makes those cakes”, well not really!  (British cakes, a company called “Mr Kiplin”).

Joseph Rudyard Kipling  –  Born December 30, 1865  –  Bombay, Bombay Presidency, British India.    –  Died January 18, 1936 aged 70 years  –  London, England.

He Rests Poets Corner, Westminster Abbey, London  (if you visit London do go to see Poets’ Corner).    Short-story writer, novelist, poet and journalist.  His most notable works – The Jungle Book, Just So Stories, Kim, Captains Courageous, “If”, “Gunga Din”, “The White Man’s Burden”.

Awards  –  Nobel Prize in Literature 1907.  He was 42 years of age.

Married Caroline Starr Balestier in 1892.   Children  –  Josephine who died of Pneumonia in 1899 aged 6 years.  Elsie Bambridge and John Kipling.

Rudyard Kipling was one of the most popular writers in the United Kingdom in both prose and verse in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

One of his most remembered Poems is “My Boy Jack” which has been linked to his Son, John’s  (Jack) death in the First World war.  His Son’s body was identified but not found until 1992.  His Son had been sent to Loos, two days into the battle in a reinforcement contingent.  His Son was last seen stumbling through the mud blindly, with a possible fascial injury.

When John died, Kipling wrote “if any question why we died, tell them because our fathers lied”.  These words, it is said suggested that Rudyard Kipling felt guilt for his role in getting John a commission in the Irish Guards.  His Son had been rejected twice for military service due to poor eyesight.  Rudyard Kipling being lifelong friends with Lord Roberts, Commander-in-Chief of the British Army and Colonel of The Irish Guards and at Kiplings request John was accepted into The Irish Guards.

There was a Play based on “My Boy Jack” and later on an adaptation of the play for television.  I did not see the Play but I did see the adaptation on tv and it was very moving, very sad.  I believe it was David Haig who played Rudyard Kipling, and was remarkably like Kipling.  Daniel Radcliffe, I remember,  played John “Jack”.  It was a BBC production 2007.  I think it is still available on DVD.  It was a BBC production to be remembered.

Rudyard Kipling kept on writing until the early 1930s.  On the night of January 12 1936 Kipling suffered a haemorrhage in his small intestine.  He underwent surgery, but died later less than one week later on January 18, 1936 he was 70 years of age, he died of a perforated duodenal ulcer.

Rudyard Kipling’s death had previously been incorrectly announced in a magazine to which he wrote “I’ve just read that I am dead.  Don’t forget to delete me from your list of subscribers”.

His Ashes were buried in Poets’ Corner, part of the South Transept of Westminster Abbey, next to the graves of Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy.


“My Boy Jack”

“Have you news of my boy Jack?”

Not this tide

“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”

Not with this wind blowing and this tide.


“Has anyone else had word of him?”

Not this tide

For what is sunk will hardly swim,

Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.


“Oh dear, what comfort can I find?”

None this tide,

Nor any tide,

Except he did not shame his kind –

Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.


Then hold your head up all the more,

This tide,

And every tide,

Because he was the Son you bore,

And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!


I find the line “except he did not shame his kind” typical of the Class System that was the UK, later it “went” it is claimed but even now one can still feel the Class system in this Country, I refer to England mainly.  “His Kind” the well to do/upper class.  Whereas Working class men were no more than cannon fodder.  As I have just mentioned “cannon fodder” I still to this day feel sickened when I hear the word “Gallipoli Campaign””.   I grew up in the 1950s and we were taught History when I was at school, unlike  now, and we learned about “Gallipoli Campaign” February 1915 – January 1916. and Churchill and his part and how the Anzacs were used, appallingly.  That period of Rudyard Kipling was The British Empire, say no more.



Thank you to James Stuart/YouTube.





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