The Changelings



(notes by Lisa Lewis)


The poem first appeared preceding  ‘Sea Constables‘ in  Debits and Credits, published in 1926. That story  itself had already been  published in magazines in 1915, without the poem.

For the metre, see  “To W.A.”, by Kipling’s friend W.E. Henley (1849-1903):

Or ever the Knightly years were gone
With the old world to the grave
I was a King in Babylon
And you were a Christian slave.


The title

The title may be intended to recall a passage about changelings in “Cold Iron” (Rewards and Fairies), in which a spell cast on a baby means that “when the babe’s mind came to bud out afterwards, it would act differently from other people in its station.” Cf. also the ex-soldiers in the earlier poems “Shillin’ a Day” and “Chant-Pagan”, both of whom find that civil life means loss of status.

The poem has the subtitle R.N.V.R. (Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve)    added in the 1927 edition of Inclusive Verse.