"Tomlinson"

(notes edited
by George Engle)




notes on the text
the poem
[May 1 2003]


Publication

In the National Observer (23 January 1892), but according to Carrie Kipling's diary, written in the previous April. Collected in Barrack-room Ballads, R.B. and O.V., 1892; I.V., 1919; D.V., 1940; Sussex Edition, Vol. 32, page 322; Burwash Edition, Vol. 25.

Lines omitted from the published version

The ORG prints the following "extra lines" from the text of the original manuscript. Lines 33 to 36.
"Ye have taken toll of a thousand soul in silver and snippet and share,
And I have
[perhaps Kipling wrote 'An I had']saved you," quo Peter, "I were saving Berkeley Square.
Ye have borrowed and filched the shadow of right that is neither saving nor sin-
Get hence, get hence, to the Lord of Wrong, for I dare not let you in."
Six lines at the end
So Tomlinson took up the flesh in his home in Berkeley Square
And syne he heard the coffin head that bumped upon the stair.
He shifted the shroud about his mouth and garred the watchers scream
"I have lain," quo he, "in a drouthy trance and dreamed a murderous dream;
But whether I rise from the red fever or the redder mouth of Hell,
By God his will, for good or ill, I'll live my life mysel'."
Background to the story

On his arrival in England in October 1889 Kipling took an instant dislike to the followers of the so-called Aesthetic Movement, who tended to go in for long hair, affectation of speech and manner, and eccentricity of dress. In a poem ("In Partibus") which he sent to the Civil and Military Gazette in the following month he wrote-
"But I consort with long-haired things
In velvet collar-rolls
Who talk about the Aims of Art
And 'theories' and 'goals',
And moo and coo with womenfolk
About their blessed souls."
Tomlinson is one of these, see The Long Recessional by David Gilmour (2002), pp. 92-95.

Comments

In Rudyard Kipling: His Life and Work (1955) Charles Carrington remarks (p. 350): "The reader of Kipling's verse will not fail to notice a tendency to slip into Scotticisms (for example in "Tomlinson") where there seems no need of that dialect in particular."