The Page’s Message

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


Holograph [handwritten by Kipling] version with the title “The Message” in Notebook 3, dated 21 November 1881. Another holograph version in Sundry Phansies with the title “The Page’s Message”, subtitled ‘(Translated from the French of the Garde Ysoude)’. (Andrew Rutherford p.80).

Sundry Phansies is a handwritten notebook presented by Kipling to ‘Flo’ Garrard, the beautiful art student with whom he had fallen in love after meeting her in the summer of 1880, when he was fourteen. She does not seem to have returned his affection, but this did not deter him from sending her many love poems. In these school years he was reading widely among earlier poets, experimenting with themes and forms, seeking to find his own voice.

(See Andrew Rutherford pp. 24-28 for details of the Notebooks.)

The poem was never collected by Kipling, but is to be found in Rutherford (p. 80), and Pinney p. 1594. The version we have included in this Guide is the later one from Sundry Phansies.

See also “Waytinge”, “To You”, “Venus Meretrix”, “Caret”, and
“Solus cum Sola”.

Notes on the Text

[Subtitle] Translated from the French of the Garde Ysoude Garde Ysoude seems to be a coinage of Kipling’s own, derived presumably from Iseult’s name, of which ‘Ysoud(e)’ is a medieval English form, and ‘Joyous Gard’ Lancelot’s castle where she and her lover found refuge.

Cf. Sir Thomas Malory’s narrative of ‘How Sir Tristram and La Beale Isoud came into England and how Sir Lancelot brought them to Joyous Gard’ in Le Morte D’Arthur, Caxton Version, Book 10, ch.lii.(1485). The young Kipling must have read Malory in the Head’s library.


©Philip Holberton 2019 All rights reserved