As far as the East
is set from the West

(notes by Philip Holberton, drawing on the work of Andrew Rutherford and Thomas Pinney)


There is a version handwritten by Kipling in Notebook 1, untitled and undated: Rutherford suggests that it was probably written in November 1882, the month after his arrival in Lahore. A note at the end reads “Probandum est [it needs to be proved] – and the onus probandi [onus of proof] lies on my shoulders.” See Rutherford pp. 24-28 for details of the Notebooks.

The poem was never collected by Kipling, but is to be found in Rutherford p. 176, and Pinney p. 1687.

The Poem

The poem laments the parting of lovers, but wonders whether they will find comfort over the sea. As a schoolboy in 1880 Kipling had become infatuated with Flo Garrard, a beautiful art student, a year older than him. The relationship seems always to have been more serious on his side; when he sailed for India he considered that they were engaged. Kipling’s note at the end (see above) suggests that
he realised that it depended on him whether the relationship endured.
Rutherford comments that in this and the previous poem in Notebook 1 (“Out of Sight”) Kipling was returning to the theme of separation from the love he had left in England: they are virtually the last of his introspective love poems.

For earlier poems on this theme see “Where the Shoe Pinches” and “Parting (In the Hall)”.


©Philip Holberton 2019 All rights reserved