[August 9th 2019]
Versions in Kipling’s handwriting in Notebook 1, dated 2 February 1882, Notebook 3, and Sundry Phansies. A later note by Kipling in Notebook 1 reads "Bad = cribbed/cheap", and he adds the reference “Criterion” - perhaps a reference to a play at the Criterion Theatre, which opened in Piccadilly Circus in 1874. (Andrew Rutherford p. 116) See Rutherford pp. 24-28 for details of the Notebooks and Sundry Phansies.
The poem was never collected by Kipling, but is to be found in Rutherford p. 116, and Pinney p. 1621.
The title is French for “Light Loves.” Kipling uses the theme of light and fleeting love in other poems, particularly in the context of shipboard romances - see “Brighton Beach” (undated but earlier than this poem), “Amour de Voyage”, “Les Amours de Voyage”; both probably from October-November 1882, when he was on his way by sea to India. Also “The Lovers’ Litany”.
[line 1] burns Notebook 1 has “lasts”. The whole of Kipling’s poem “Pro Tem” is built on the metaphor of a brief love as a fire that burns for one night only.
©Philip Holberton 2019 All rights reserved