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


There is a version in Kipling’s writing in Notebook 3, one of four handwritten collections of his poems in the Kipling Papers, University of Sussex Library.

The poem was never collected by Kipling, but is to be found in Rutherford p. 112, and Pinney p. 1614

The Poem

A strange theme, echoing Kipling’s frequent suggestion that a beach, on the edge of the sea is a borderland, a place of unease, sad and dangerous. Here the sea has washed a dead body to shore, but the weed, the undersea caves and the limpets on the rock reject it even as food. The limpets suggest sinking it in a quicksand, but in the last verse, almost a repeat of the first, the sea insists that it will lay “this thing” on the rocks.

Notes on the Text

[Verse 2, line 1] laver An edible seaweed with flat green and purple fronds, that turn black.

[Verse 4 line 3] The beasts that feed in me Crabs perhaps, lurking in little caves in the rocks.


©Philip Holberton 2019 All rights reserved