The Reaping

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


There are versions handwritten by Kipling in Notebook 1, dated 19 June [1882], and Notebook 3, undated. See Rutherford pp. 24-28 for details of the Notebooks.

The poem was never collected by Kipling, but is to be found in Rutherford p. 155, and Pinney p. 1666.

The Poem

One of several poems written about this time on the theme of being parted from a loved one – see for instance “Parting (In the Hall)”. By June 1882 Kipling knew he was about to leave for a new life in India – he sailed on 20 September. It is presumably addressed to Flo Garrard, with whom the young Kipling had been infatuated since the summer of 1880. When he sailed, he supposed himself to be engaged to her (Charles Carrington p. 41, on the authority of Kipling’s sister ‘Trix’).

The poet rails against Fate and the gods, but concludes that Life has not been wholly barren if the lovers can save/ [their] store of Love.


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