The Braggart

(notes by John McGivering and John Radcliffe)



The fifth of the first group of fourteen, published in the Daily Mail 9 February 1904. Collected in the Sussex Edition vol. 35 p. 128. (ORG Verse No. 841).


“Mat. Prior” Matthew Prior (1664-1721) Diplomat, secret agent, Member of Parliament, poet and writer of epigrams.

The Theme

A young man boasts that his car will do eighty miles an hour but, according to his chauffeur, has never dared to try it.

Ann Weygandt (p.67) comments:

Of “The Braggart”, Kipling’s attempt in Prior’s manner, there is little to be said once we have admitted that it embodies his bantering attitude in a very fair reproduction of his loose pentameter couplet. It may, however, be added that
Kipling must really have read Prior to choose this form of quatrain as representative of his patterns for epigrams – the examples of his wit to be found in anthologies are almost invariably in tetrameter!

Notes on the text

[Line 1] Petrolio an Italian-sounding name which we have not traced, but perhaps it signifies what became known as a ‘petrol-head’, one whose enthusiasm for motoring verges on mania.

[Line 4] his man his chauffeur.


©John McGivering and John Radcliffe 2020 All rights reserved