The Wooing of the Sword

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


There is a version handwritten by Kipling in Notebook 3, dated 27 April 1882. 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. 142, and Pinney p. 1651.

The poem

The poem is in the style of a traditional ballad. The Biblical ‘Speaketh’ instead of ‘Speaks’ at the head of each verse, ‘Ye’ instead of ‘You’, and ‘Nought’ instead of ‘Nothing’, reinforce the sense that this is a tale from old times. It reflects the interest of the pre-Raphaelites, including Sir Edward Burne-Jones, Kipling’s ‘Uncle Ned’, in mediaeval tales and themes. It also suggests, brutally, that might is right.

See also “A Legend of Devonshire”, “Tarrant Moss”, “Heriot’s Ford”, and “The Ballad of the King’s Daughter”.


©Philip Holberton and John Radcliffe 2019 All rights reserved