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


Handwritten by Kipling in Notebook 1, dated 10 August 1882, with a later note “being verses for a picture”. 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. 166, and Pinney p. 1674.

The Poem

A lover wishes to confess my wickedness and my lies so that the beloved will know the truth before death comes.

Kipling’s note “Verses for a Picture” is a warning not to assume that his poems are reflections of his private life. He expressed this forcefully five years later in the introduction to “La Nuit Blanche” (Departmental Ditties):

A much-discerning Public hold
The Singer generally sings
Of personal and private things
And prints and sells his past for gold.

Whatever I may here disclaim,
The very clever folk I sing to
Will most indubitably cling to
Their pet delusion, just the same.


©Philip Holberton 2019 All rights reserved