To You

(A reminiscence)

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


Holograph [hand-written by Kipling] version in Notebook 1, with title “A Reminiscence”, dated August 1881. Another holograph version, with title “To You”, probably addressed to his aunt Edith Macdonald, at the end of Notebook 3. (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. 70), and Pinney p. 1582.

The poem was recycled as an inscription in the copy of Kipling’s later collection Echoes sent to Evelyn Welford in 1884, where the first line reads ‘In memory of a maiden’s sympathy’ and the third line of verse 2 ‘God give you comfort as you gave it me’ , avoiding the simple repetition in Notebook 3.
(Rutherford ) Rutherford also quotes Kipling’s entry for 12 November 1889 in a diary-letter to Mrs. Edmonia Hill, in which he describes Evelyn Welford as ‘an ally of mine seven years ago.’ (p. 179)

Verse 2 lines 1 & 2 run:

A boy’s wild words beside the summer sea—
A baring of the heart’s most secret pain…

These lines fit well with the suggestion that the poem was originally addressed to Edith Macdonald. She was his mother’s youngest sister, then aged thirty-three. Rutherford (p. 12) describes her as ‘his closest confidante in matters of both literature and love’. In 1881 the fifteen-year-old Kipling had fallen in love with ‘Flo’ Garrard, a beautiful art student a year older than him. He wrote many love poems for her, but she does not seem to have returned his affections.

See also “Waytinge”, “Caret”, and
“Solus cum Sola”.


©Philip Holberton 2019 All rights reserved