The Craftsman

(notes by John McGivering and John Radcliffe)


ORG Volume 8 (Uncollected No .1059) reports the first publication of this poem in The Years Between (1919) and collected (slightly amended) in Definitive Verse, the Sussex Edition Volume 33, and the Burwash Edition Volume 26. It is also collected in A Choice of Kipling’s Verse, by T. S. Eliot, and The Works of Rudyard Kipling (Wordsworth Poetry Library).

This in a ‘sapphic’, a poem of four-line stanzas, a form  used by many Greek and Roman poets, including Horace, who was much admired by Kipling. [D.H.]

See also our notes on “How Shakespeare came to write The Tempest

Notes on the Text

[Verse 1] The Mermaid an inn in Cheapside in the City of London in Elizabethan times – haunt of many distinguished writers.

Boanerges “Sons of thunder”, meaning loud-voiced preachers, the nickname given by Jesus to the disciples James and John (Mark 3, 17).

See also Kipling’s portrayal of Ben Jonson in “Proofs of Holy Writ“.

[Verse 2] Cotswold ‘The Cotswolds’ is an upland area of great beauty in westerm England, in Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire, and extending into parts of Wiltshire, Somerset and Worcestershire.

Cleopatra The tragic Queen of Egypt in Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra”.

[Verse 3] Sir Thomas Sir Thomas Lucy,(1532-1600) of Cnarlecote Park near Stratford. The unfounded legend persists that the young Shakespeare poached deer in his park. (see Shakespeare by Ivor Brown, The Reprint Society 1951).

Juliet the tragic heroine of “Romeo and Juliet”

[Verse 4] Bankside a road along the riverside in Southwark, just over the Thames from the City – the original Globe Theatre was nearby.

Lady Macbeth the wife of Macbeth, Thane of Fife, who encourages her husband to murder King Duncan in the play “Macbeth”

[Verse 5] Sabbath Sunday, the first day of the week in the Christian calendar.

Avon the river on which Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-on-Avon, lies, rising in Northamptonshire, and eventually flowing into the River Severn at Tewkesbury. avon means ‘river’ in the ancient Celtic language spoken in Britain before the Romans came, and there are at least four other ‘River Avons’ in England and Scotland. .

Ophelia is wooed by Hamlet but goes mad and drowns herself. “Hamlet”


©John McGivering and John Radcliffe 2020 All rights reserved