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 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.
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