(notes by John McGivering and John Radcliffe)


Its first publication was in Schoolboy Lyrics in Lahore in 1881, in an edition of around fifty arranged by his mother the year before Rudyard’s arrival in the city at the age of sixteen, to work as a journalist. It is listed in ORG as No 29.

Collected in:

  • The Outward Bound Edition vol xvii (1900)
  • Edition de Luxe vol xviii (1900)
  • The Sussex Edition vol xxxv (1939)
  • The Burwash Edition vol xxviii (1941)
  • Early Verse by Rudyard Kipling (1986) Ed. Rutherford
  • Cambridge Edition (2013 Ed. Pinney) p. 1169.

The poem

Another reflective, elegiac fragment by the young poet. Roses, sometimes loved, sometimes cast aside, wither and die, or live to embellish suburban gardens. And they have thorns.


After his unhappy years at Southsea, Kipling was sent to United Services College at Westward Ho! in Devon at the age of twelve, in 1878. It had been recently established to provide education for the sons of army officers. Because of his poor eyesight he was no good at rugby or cricket, and the Head, Cormell Price, who was a friend of his father, gave him the run of his library, where he read voraciously, including a great deal of poetry, and writing himself, experimenting with styles and language, and themes, in no doubt that he would become a published poet.

And as Andrew Rutherford (Ed.) recounts (p. 3):

… extensions of his literary and emotional experience came during his Christmas visits to the Burne-Jones household at The Grange, North End Road, Fulham, where he was welcomed by his beloved Aunt Georgiana … Further appreciation of the Pre-Raphaelite milieu was to come later, but already Kipling responded to some of the drawings and paintings on which Burne-Jones was engaged, and he sensed the importance attached to art and literature by the whole circle.

©John McGivering and John Radcliffe 2017 All rights reserved