There are versions in Kipling’s handwriting in Notebooks I and 3, both dated 16 February 1882.
See Andrew Rutherford pp. 24-28 for details of the Notebooks and Sundry Phansies.
The poem has the fourteen lines of a sonnet, but the rhyme scheme is irregular. It describes a powerful man who, though unarmed, can overcome anyone anywhere, and from whom it is impossible to hide. In the last couplet he is revealed to be a god. Is he perhaps, the God of Love ?
For over 2000 years poets have claimed Love to be all-powerful, ever since Virgil wrote in his Eclogues in 37 B.C. that “Omnia vincit Amor” – Love conquers all. It was a theme that greatly preccupied the young Kipling in his teenage years. Notes on the Text
[Line 6] there be none so strong to lay him low there is no-one strong enough to overcome him.
[Line 14] fleeting an interesting choice of adjective. It can mean “gliding swiftly away”, but more often carries the meaning “brief, transient”, appropriate to an unhappy love affair.
©Philip Holberton 2019 All rights reserved