An Ending

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


There is a version in Kipling’s handwriting in Notebook 3, dated 11 April 1882.. 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. 141, and Pinney p. 1649.

The Poem

This poem is unusual among Kiplings works because it is written in “free verse”, with no regular length to the lines and no rhymes. See also “Song of the Galley-Slaves” (1891) from “The Finest Story in the World” (Many Inventions), and “The Runners” (1904).

While the sonnets he was writing at this time may have sought to echo Shakespeare, this poem may have taken some inspiration from Walt Whitman, an early exponent of free verse, who had greatly interested Kipling.

It is one of a number of verses written about this time addressed to Flo Garrard, with whom the young Kipling had become infatuated in the summer of 1880, when he was fourteen, and she a year older. Its theme is that she has been the inspiration of his poetry ever since they met, more especially since she once called him her poet, an inspiration reinforced by all they have experienced and shared together.


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