A Preface

 (notes edited by John McGivering)


This poem was first published as an introductory verse for Land and Sea Tales for Scouts and Guides in November 1923. It is listed in ORG as No 1121.

It is collected in:

  • Definitive Verse (1940)
  • The Sussex Edition vols xxxvi and xxxiv (1939)
  • The Burwash Edition vol xiv (1941)
  • Cambridge Edition (2013) Ed. Thomas Pinney, p. 979.

The poem

This is a plea to children and young people generally to be fit. Kipling is probably remembering the time of the Second South African War when a high proportion of the men going into recruiting offices were found to be very much out of condition.

This verse was printed in The Boys Own Paper for February 1936. (See our Notes on Winning the Victoria Cross, the first of the Land and Sea Tales.)
The poet insists that anybody can use the talents they possess to do a job in life, if they apply themselves to it, and keep themselves fit.

Notes on the Text


[Verse 3] As a bold rider brings his horse in hand: the horseman collects his horse, encouraging him with voice and prepares him for a difficult jump

[Verse s 1-4]  In mind and body be fit:   Kipling is echoing Juvenal’s famous mens sana in corpore sano”  (Satire 10,356).   [D.H.]

[Verse  5]  slurs its beat:  See OED, ‘slur, v. 1’, 6:  Kipling means something like ‘makes its beat blurry, irregular’. [D.H.]



©John McGivering 2018 All rights reserved