A Voyage

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


There are versions handwritten by Kipling in Notebook 1, dated 6 July 1882, and in Notebook 3, undated. 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. 157, and Pinney p. 1669.

The Poem

The poet is about to set sail for a far away isle. His fellow voyagers have different reasons for leaving, none of them very creditable. Even adventurers go because rhey have nowhere to call home; even the young are very old in woe. But the last verse is full of hope that over the sea they will find wider scope / For all their virile energy.

The poem may express Kipling’s rather ambivalent feelings on leaving England to start a new life as a journalist in India; after all, he was still three months short of his seventeenth birthday when he sailed from London two months after it was written.


©Philip Holberton 2019 All rights reserved