K- A Letter from Kipling #atozchallenge

Dear Rowena,

As much as I’m well versed in keeping the stiff English upper lip, I was disappointed not to receive one of your letters, although I’ve read a few that have been doing the rounds. No one has ever written to us before.

Anyway, after I heard Hemingway’s been sending you advice for your son, I leaped into action. After all, my famous poem If is the authorative poem for a boy on the cusp of becoming a man. Good character is exceptionally important and as much as I might have written that poem for boys back in the day, it is also suitable for your daughter. From what I understand, boys and girls aren’t quite as separate as they used to be.


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling

I hope your children read this carefully and carry this wisdom with them in their hearts, minds and spirits and to keep their eyes focused on the road while also being vigilant. Take great risk yet also be discerning. They don’t want to throw their lives away or burn up in the flames. Expanding on what I read somewhere in these letters: you don’t get anywhere sitting down.

Indeed, writing about this reminded me of one of my poems:


EYES aloft, over dangerous places,
The children follow the butterflies,
And, in the sweat of their upturned faces,
Slash with a net at the empty skies.

So it goes they fall amid brambles,
And sting their toes on the nettle-tops,
Till, after a thousand scratches and scrambles,
They wipe their brows and the hunting stops.

Then to quiet them comes their father
And stills the riot of pain and grief,
Saying, “Little ones, go and gather
Out of my garden a cabbage-leaf.

“You will find on it whorls and clots of
Dull grey eggs that, properly fed,
Turn, by way of the worm, to lots of
Glorious butterflies raised from the dead.” . . .

“Heaven is beautiful, Earth is ugly,”
The three-dimensioned preacher saith;
So we must not look where the snail and the slug lie
For Psyche’s birth. . . . And that is our death!

You’re kids are so lucky to have you, not just because you haven’t been well but because you keep hanging in there. Keep trying to understand them and do you best, while also trying to follow your own path. I thought you’d appreciate a sentiment I’ve shared before. It might not be new but I still hope it’s special to you:

“God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers”.

-Rudyard Kipling

Parenting isn’t easy but is so rewarding. There is no greater love just as there is no greater pain.


Lieut John Kipling

‘My Boy Jack’


“HAVE you news of my boy Jack? ”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind—
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide.

You never forget.

Warm wishes,

Rudyard Kipling.







11 thoughts on “K- A Letter from Kipling #atozchallenge

  1. roweeee Post author

    I couldn’t leave Kipling out! I’ve tried a few times to read Jungle Book but I’ll have to have another go. Of course, we’ve been quite exposed to Jungle Book through Scouts, which is making me more comfortable with the names, which I think is what threw me in the past.
    Have you read about his son being rejected by the army due to short-sightedness but Kipling pulled strings and got him into the Irish Guards and he was sent to front and died. I know we live in different times but it really does seem like he sent his son of to war like a lamb to the slaughterhouse.

  2. roweeee Post author

    Thanks so much, Adam. I am wanting explore Kipling in more detail. I’ve barely scratched the surface. My kids do Scouts and the leaders names mostly come out of Jungle Book so I really need to get into it. Broaden my horizons. Thanks so much for following my blog and I’ll pop over later tonight xx Rowena

  3. AJ.Dixon

    That’s where my initial interest came from as well ☺ I wanted to know where the names came from and it went from there, really. He has written some wonderful poetry but he was most definitely a man of his time so some of his ideas will seem a bit unpleasant to our modern ones! No problem, I’ll look forward to reading more! 😄

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