A Tryst

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


There is a handwritten version by Kipling in Notebook 1 with the title “The Tryst in Summer”, dated 27 May 1882, with a later note Torrington Woods. There is another handwritten version in Notebook 3 with the title “A Tryst”, with the same date. 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. 147, and Pinney p. 1657.

The Poem

This is one of a number of sonnets that Kipling wrote around this time on the subject of love. A tryst is an arranged meeting between lovers. The poet has arrived at the rendezvous: he can only listen in the woods for his Love and wait – in the rain, it is an English summer! The tryst is imagined: Torrington is a village about 12 km from Westward Ho!, and female visitors would not be allowed at United Services College, nor could a boy go so far from the school.

A slightly earlier poem, “How the Day Broke” of December 1881 describes a happy and successful tryst.


©Philip Holberton 2019 All rights reserved