Amour de Voyage

(notes edited by John McGivering and John Radcliffe)


Published in Echoes by Two Writers in Lahore in October  1884. Listed in ORG as No 102.
Rutherford (p. 173) notes that there is a version of this poem in Kipling’s hand in Notebook 1, as the first of a group of poems entitled ‘Les Amours de Voyage’ and headed ‘S. S. Brindisi / Sept 20th to October 20’. These were the dates of Kipling’s voyage out to India in 1882, aged sixteen, to take up a post as Assistant Editor of the Civil and Military Gazette in Lahore.

The poem was collected in:

  • The Outward Bound Edition vol xvii (1900)
  • Edition de Luxe vol xviii (1900)
  • The Sussex Edition vol xxxv (1939)
  • The Burwash Edition vol xxviii (1941)
  • Early Verse by Rudyard Kipling (1986) Ed. Andrew Rutherford, p. 173
  • Cambridge Edition (2013) Ed. Pinney, p. 1259

The poem

The poem describes a romance at sea between a writer and a lovely woman, passionate while it lasts, but ending when the voyage is over.

We cannot determine whether Kipling is describing anything more than a fantasy. Andrew Lycett (p. 83) sees these as ‘jaunty verses … about a fanciful shipboard romance’ in which he was harking back to his relationship with Flo Garrard. One suspects that Kipling felt that whether in imagination or reality such dalliance was the duty of a wordly young man.

Kipling and Florence Garrard

As a schoolboy of fourteen Rudyard fell in love with the beautiful Flo Garrard, who was an art student, a year older than he, who had already befriended his sister Trix. Though they corresponded, his feelings do not seem to have been reciprocated.

Despite a rebuff earlier that year, in the autumn of 1882 when he sailed to India, he evidently still saw himself as engaged to her.


Rudyard’s routine work at the Civil and Military Gazette was demanding and unremitting. He was sustained by his home life with his parents, and – from December 1883 – by a happy partnership with his young sister ‘Trix’ with whom he played word games and other literary inventions, and wrote parodies. Several of these were published in Echoes by Two Writers. This poem was clearly Kipling’s own work. He does not claim it as an ‘echo’ of any other poet, though the title is borrowed from Arthur Clough ( Ricketts p. 54).

Notes on the Text


Amour de Voyage This title is borrowed from Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861 whom Kipling parodies in “The Bother” from The Muse Among the Motors and uses twice himself: in this version (Rutherford p. 173), and in “Les amours de Voyage” (p. 174) which was not collected by Kipling. See The Cambridge Edition, 2013 (Ed.Pinney) p. 1683. See Philip Holberton’s notes.

Kipling’s return to India in 1882 in the P & O liner Brindisi, launched two years previously, took 27 days from Tilbury to Bombay (Carrington p. 45). See also Meryl Macdonald (p. 21), and “The Last Long Voyage of the Exiles’ Line” an article in The Times of 12 January 1970.

See “The Exiles’ Line” (1892), and A Lovers’ Litany” (1886). See also “Our Lady of Many Dreams” (1882).

[Verse 2]

the steamer throbs the reciprocating engines of the time made a characteristic ‘thumping’ sound.

©John Radcliffe and John McGivering2017 All rights reserved