Chivalry

1880

(notes by Philip Holberton)

the poem


[April 29th 2019]

Publication

Holograph [handwrittten by Kipling] version in Sundry Phansies where the title is followed by a question-mark in brackets. Sundry Phansies is a hand-written notebook of thirty-two poems presented by Kipling to Florence Garrard. A typescript copy has the readings 'At her foulest she is lovely, at her fairest something more’ and 'Hang that woman' in the final line.

Edith Plowden, a friend of Kipling’s mother, in her typescript for a talk to the Kipling Society in 1938, writes that:
'Rudyard could versify on any subject and recited his verses to me as we walked and sat in Kensington Gardens. One ‘Chivalry’ amused me and he dedicated it to me calling me ‘The Missing Link between Lahore and London'. I knew it by heart.'
The context seems to imply that this was in 1880. (Andrew Rutherford)

The poem was never collected by Kipling, but is to be found in Rutherford (p. 54), and Pinney p. 1573.

Kipling and Flo Garrard

As a schoolboy of fourteen Rudyard fell in love with the beautiful 'Flo' Garrard, an art student, a year older than he, who had already befriended his sister 'Trix' at Lorne Lodge in Southsea. Though they corresponded, his feelings do not seem to have been reciprocated.

In 1881 and 1882 he sent Flo Garrard many poems, including this one, which clearly failed to impress her or win her heart.

The Poem

The poet considers how, like a knight of old, he should “worship”, “serve” and “respect” all women. When one actually comes to see him it is a different matter!


[P.H.]

©Philip Holberton 2019 All rights reserved