The Playmate

(notes edited by John McGivering and John Radcliffe)


First published in Limits and Renewals, where it precedes “Aunt Ellen.” Collected in the Sussex Edition volume 11 page 115 and volume 34 page 407, Inclusive Verse, Definitive Verse and The Works of Rudyard Kipling (Wordsworth Poetry Library).

Some critical comments

Dr Tompkins looks at this generally in her Chapter 2, “Laughter” (page 49). See also the headnote to “Aunt Ellen”.

Andrew Lycett
(page 541) sees the verses as, ‘better than the tale itself’, which, he says, is based on a real incident in Paris.

C A Bodelsen
in Chapter 1 of “The Revelation of Mirth” explains how the narrator suddenly finds himself in a universe governed by an internal logic other than that of his normal world:

… the cosmic powers have discarded their severe mask, and their innermost essence is shown, at least, for the moment, to be comic. [page 9, passim].

Notes on the Text

[Verse 1]

She is not Folly  For a personified, female Folly, see Erasmus’ Praise of Folly (the Latin title is Laus Stultitiae, and Erasmus also gave his book the Greek title Moriae Encomium, but the English title ‘In Praise of Folly’ goes back to the 1549 translation by Thomas Challoner). Erasmus imagined his praise of Folly in contrast to the Biblical praise of Wisdom, particularly in the book of Wisdom and in Proverbs 8, and Kipling also alludes to this in stanza 5 of our poem.  [D.H.]

[Verse 5]

Norns: the Fates, dispensers of Destiny in Norse mythology.



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