I Believe

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


There are two versions handwritten by Kipling in Notebooks 1 & 3, dated 9 May 1882.

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. 143, and Pinney p. 1652.

The poem

This is a classical Shakespearean sonnet. Kipling wrote a number of love sonnets at about this time. This one is addressed to the spirit of Love, while most of the others are more openly addressed to Flo Garrard, with whom the young Kipling had become infatuated in the summer of 1880, when he was fourteen, and she a year older.

In Notebook 1 the last couplet reads:

O Love faint not, the end is very near,
That makes thy mistress by this woe more dear.



©Philip Holberton 2019 All rights reserved