“There is a tide”

(notes by Philip Holberton)

Publication

These lines are the heading to “Kidnapped” in Plain Tales from the Hill (1888). They are collected in Songs from Books (1912), _Definitive Verse, and later collections as a Chapter Heading.

The poem

A parody of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (Act IV, Scene iii) in which Brutus utters the celebrated lines:

There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries..

The Kipling family was much addicted to parody&’8212see “How Shakespeare came to write “The Tempest” “ and “The Coiner”.

Here Kipling is using this echo from Shakespeare to make the point that men may be swept into dangerous waters, but can sometimes be rescued, like Peythroppe in this tale.

[P.H.]

©John McGivering 2020 All rights reserved