If you cannot view images in your e-mail, please visit http://www.randomhouse.com/knopf/enewsletter/poetry08/11_kipling.html

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was one of the most popular writers in English in his day, the author of such still well known works as "The Man Who Would be King" and The Jungle Book. His poetry collections included Mandalay and Gunga Din, both published in 1890, and a recent gathering of his poems in the Everyman's Library Pocket Poet series reveals that he was prolific in form and content and a gifted storyteller in verse, often able to transcend the cliches of his time in touching on universal human predicaments. The stanzas below are excerpted from a long piece of many parts entitled "Epitaphs of the War." Kipling lost his only son in World War One.

Audio bonus: see further below for the first in this month's Frank O'Hara readings by Knopf poets.

From "Epitaphs of the War"


A. 'I was a ''have''.' B. 'I was a ''have-not''.'
    (Together). 'What hast thou given which I gave not?'


We were together since the War began.
He was my servant — and the better man.

    A SON

My son was killed while laughing at some jest.
      I would I knew
What it was, and it might serve me in a time when
      jests are few.


I have slain none except my Mother. She
(Blessing her slayer) died of grief for me.


Pity not! The Army gave
Freedom to a timid slave:
In which Freedom did he find
Strength of body, will, and mind:
By which strength he came to prove
Mirth, Companionship, and Love:
For which Love to Death he went:
In which Death he lies content.


Body and Spirit I surrendered whole
To harsh Instructors — and received a soul . . .
If mortal man could change me through and through
From all I was — what may the God not do?


This man in his own country prayed we know not to
      what Powers.
We pray Them to reward him for his bravery in ours.


I could not look on Death, which being known,
Men led me to him, blindfold and alone.


My name, my speech, my self I had forgot.
My wife and children came — I knew them not.
I died. My Mother followed. At her call
And on her bosom I remembered all.


Gods of the Nile, should this stout fellow here
Get out — get out! He knows not shame nor fear.


    A Grave near Halfa

The blown sand heaps on me, that none may learn
   Where I am laid for whom my children grieve . . .
O wings that beat at dawning, ye return
   Out of the desert to your young at eve!

Audio bonus! Click here to listen to Mary Jo Salter reading Frank O'Hara's "Why I Am Not a Painter".

Everyman's Library is celebrating National Poetry Month with a special offer! Now through April 30, enjoy FREE SHIPPING AND 10% OFF on any Everyman's Library Pocket Poets order of $20 or more placed through our Web site at http://www.everymanslibrary.com. To qualify for this special offer, simply enter coupon code POCKETPOETS at checkout.

Browse the complete list of Everyman's Library Pocket Poets or purchase the entire set here.



About Rudyard Kipling

Miss one of our daily poems? You can view them online in the Knopf Poem-a-Day archive.


Excerpt from KIPLING: POEMS Copyright © 2007 by Everyman's Library. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

We welcome your feedback. Please send any thoughts or questions to knopfwebmaster@randomhouse.com

You received this issue because your email address is in Knopf's Poem-a-Day mailing list. To unsubscribe, send a blank email to unsub_knopfpoetry@info.randomhouse.com. Or if you received this poem as a forward and wish to subscribe, send a blank email to sub_knopfpoetry@info.randomhouse.com.