The Page’s Song


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


There is a holograph [handwritten by Kipling] version in Notebook 3, dated 25 December 1881, and another holograph version in Sundry Phansies with the subtitle Translated from the Romance of the Garde Ysoud.

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

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 cared for him very much, but this did not deter him from sending her a good many love poems. He was writing copiously in 1881 and 1882, echoing other poets, seeking his own voice, and sending much of his work to friends and relations for their comments.

This poem was never collected by Kipling, but is to be found in Rutherford (p. 99), and Pinney p. 1600.

See also “The Page’s Message”.

Notes on the Text

[Subtitle] Garde Ysoud  seems to be a coinage of Kipling’s own, derived presumably from the name Iseult, of which Ysoud(e) is a medieval English form, and Lancelot’s castle of Joyous Gard where she and her lover found refuge. Rudyard must have read Sir Thomas Malory’s tales of King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, Merlin, and the Knights of the Round Table, in the Head’s library, or at the Burne-Jones’s house. Cf. Malory’s narrative of “How Sir Tristram and La Beale Isoud came into England and how Sir Lancelot brought them to Joyous Gard” (Le Morte D’Arthur, Caxton Version, Book 10, ch.lii) (Rutherford p. 80)

[Verse 2 line 4] That sad warp in thy poor wit— In Notebook 3, this line reads:

‘That sad sword in thy warped wit.’



©Philip Holberton 2019 All rights reserved