As one who throws Earth's
gold away in scorn


1885


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


the poem


[February 27th 2020]

Source

The handwritten original dated 'Simla - June 2nd 1885' and signed 'Rudyard Kipling' is in the Macdonald papers in the Special Collections of the University of Sussex.

The poem was never collected in his later published works, but is to be found in Rutherford (p. 265) and Pinney (p. 1751).

The poem

It is a warning to authors to write down and store up everything while they are inspired; the time will come when they cannot write any more. Such anxiety often troubled the young Kipling. See "El Dorado" (1882), and The Light that Failed (1891).

It was written at a time when Rudyard and his sister Trix had spent much of their spare time writing together. Some fifty year later, Trix (Mrs Fleming) remembered this poem at a Kipling Society occasion reported in the Kipling Journal in June 1937. She said:
'Critics to-day are apt to forget that Rudyard Kipling felt from the beginning that the word of the Lord was laid upon him, and that he had to do that for which he was sent. From his early days he felt the power of the written word, and it had an exaggerated importance for him in that he thought it was possible for everyone to write. Kipling took life seriously, and therein lay the reason of his success. I would like to quote a little verse which has has not yet been published, that Kipling wrote for me on the occasion of my twelfth birthday:
Therefore while each new day brings some new thought,
And life's chain glitters brightly, link by link,
Write swiftly, good or evil, all is fraught
More deeply than you think.'
If the poem was written in 1885, it would of course have been for Trix's seventeenth birthday, as Pinney points out. (KJ 42 has 'Right' for 'Write' at the beginning of line 3, which seems an obvious error of transcription.)


[P.H.]

ęPhilip Holberton 2020 All rights reserved