The Mother’s Son

(notes edited by John McGivering. We have been grateful for critical comments and suggestions from Peter Havholm )


Published in Limits and Renewals (1932) where it precedess “Fairy Kist”.

Some critical comments

Andrew Lycett (page 527) comments:

If further evidence were required that Rudyard was alluding to himself and his own recovery from a near-psychotic state, it came in the poem “The Mother’s Son” which accompanied “Fairy-Kist” when it was published in book form.

Marghanita Laski observes (page 169):

It could be that Kipling came to understand that there were worse ends than dying in that (1914) war. It might be worse to live.

She calls it (page 58) a ‘sinister late story’.

Notes on the text

[Verse 2]

They do not let you sleep upstairs: to prevent the patient committing suicide by jumping out of the window.

not allowed to shave: for the same reason – the cut-throat razor was in use at the time – see “The Woman in His Life”, page 69 line 15, earlier in this volume.

[Verse 4]

The Cup: an echo of Matthew 26,42: ‘ Jesus prays before he is betrayed and crucified – ‘O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except before I drink it, thy will be done’. See “Epitaphs of the War” and “Hymn of Breaking Strain” for verse in a similar vein.



© John McGivering 2016 All rights reserved