The Owl


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


In June 1889 Kipling was his way home from India at the end of his ‘Seven Years Hard’. In San Francisco he had parted from Professor and Mrs Edmonia Hill, with whom he had sailed across the Pacific. This poem was in a letter to Mrs Hill, postmarked 12 June 1889, of which there is a facsimile in the Bohemian Club Library (Notes, No.9, for June 1961, pp.2-4).

Kipling wrote to Mrs Hill, his closest confidant at the time:

… In the meantime please look over a copy of the verses I sent to the Bohemian Club [of San Francisco] when they made me an honorary member. The totem of the club, wh. you will find throughout its rooms is an owl.

The poem is also to be found in Rutherford (p. 458) and Pinney (p. 1949).


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