The Broken Men

(notes by Mary Hamer drawing on various sources, in particular Ralph Durand, “A Handbook to the Poetry of Rudyard Kipling” 1914.)

Publication history

Written in August 1901 according to Carrie Kipling’s diaries as represented in the Carrington Extracts. First published in The Five Nations September 1903.

‘Collected in I.V. 1919, and in D.V. 1940, the Sussex Edition vol. 33, and the Burwash Edition vol. 26.


In “The Unfading Genius of Rudyard Kipling”, Kipling Journal March 1959, speaking of his own poem, “The Hollow Men”, T.S. Eliot acknowledged that he ‘would never have thought of this title but for Kipling’s “The Broken Men”’.Compare too the final stanza with Rupert Brooke’s later poem, “Granchester”.

Notes on the Text

[Stanza 2] dock and Dartmoor trial and imprisonment (for fraud). Dartmoor is the name of a notorious prison on the moor of that name, in Devon in the west of England.

Callao a port in Peru at that time one of the overseas havens for persons wanted by the law in Britain.

[Stanza 3] ten per cent that much a year in interest, an exorbitant amount, a detail which implies that the people he had swindled in England had been credulous in their greed.

[Stanza 5] yucca plant with sword-shaped leaves, originally from South America, now often used in English plantings.

jalousies slatted wooden blinds.

[Stanza 7] English ground they would be liable to arrest on a British ship, as all stepping aboard came under English law.

[Stanza 9] the old Lord Warden the first hotel in Dover that would have struck the eye on landing. It is named after the ancient title of ‘Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports’ on the south coast of England.


©Mary Hamer 2007 All rights reserved