New Year Resolutions


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


This poem was published in the Civil and Military Gazette on New Year’s Day 1887. It was reprinted in the Englishman on 6th January. It was unsigned, but is authenticated by inclusion in Kipling’s Scrapbook 3 of his own press cuttings in the Kipling Papers at the University of Sussex Special Collections.

It was not later published by Kipling, but is to be found in Rutherford (p. 356) and Pinney (p. 1841).

The Poem

The poet lists his New Year resolutions, but always with reservations. He will not play whist —unless asked to “cut in”—to take the place of another player. He will not dance with ingenues—artless young ladies—for fear of being trapped into marriage, but he lists ten exceptions. He will sell his horses, but cuts out that resolution at once in order to try one of them in a mile (1.6 Km) race. He will not flirt, except with x (the unknown quantity in algebra) “flames”. He will give up smoking cigars, because he does not like the taste of “trichis” from Trichinopoly and cannot get those from the high-class tobacconists Oakes Bros. Instead he will smoke pipes with tobacco from the experimental farms of Poosa (Pusa) in Behar. Finally he decides that one resolution is enough for one year; he will start with No. 2— the whist.


©Philip Holberton 2020 All rights reserved