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Mentone Girls' Grammar School | Kerferd Library

War Poetry: Rudyard Kipling

Year 10 English | Language [VCELA] Literature [VCELT]

Source: Four Canadian soldiers, sleeping and writing letters in the trenches near Willerval. (IWM, 2019). Insert image: Rudyard Kipling. (Encyclopædia Britannica, 2019).

Level 1 resource"The ‘war poet’ and ‘war poetry’, observed Robert Graves in 1942, were ‘terms first used in World War I and perhaps peculiar to it’. From Anglo-Saxon times to the Boer War, war poetry in English was written largely by civilians and did not have a clearly defined identity; with the extraordinary outpouring between 1914 and 1918, it established itself as a genre and the soldier-poet became a species." (Das, 2014)

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Resource Key

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LEVEL

Brief, basic information laid out in an easy-to-read format. May use informal language. (Includes most news articles)

LEVEL

Provides additional background information and further reading. Introduces some subject-specific language.

Level 3 resourceLEVEL

Lengthy, detailed information. Frequently uses technical/subject-specific language. (Includes most analytical articles)

General Capabilities
Enduring Understandings
  • Students will understand that poetry is a deliberate form of language where structural and linguistic features combine to create meaning.
  • Students will understand that the poetry of war has a long tradition in literature.
  • Students will understand that meaning may change depending on the context, culture and linguistic understanding of the reader.
Essential Questions
  • How is poetry different to prose?
  • How can we create meaning with language?

Jump toJump to: Quick facts | Articles | eBooks | Online resources | Poems

War Poetry | Rudyard Kipling: Quick facts

Rudyard Kipling by Elliott & Fry, half-plate glass copy negative, 1924
NPG x81807 © National Portrait Gallery, London
Level 1Rudyard Kipling (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936)
  • Born in Bombay, India, on 30 December 1865 and died in London (UK) on 18 January 1936 aged 70.
  • Kipling was one of the most popular authors at the height of the British Empire. While his children's books remain popular, with the decline in the Empire and colonialism Kipling is seen in some quarters as reactionary and racist as a result of poems such as "The White Man's Burden", and misogynistic as a result of poems such as "The Female of the Species".
  • Famous for books such as the "Just So Stories" and the "The Jungle Book" as well as poems such as "The White Man's Burden".

War Poetry | Rudyard Kipling: Articles

Level 2Articles

Level 2 resourceClick on the following book covers to place a hold in the library catalogue or access the book online. If prompted, sign in with your School mConnect user name and password.

War Poetry | Rudyard Kipling: Online resources

Level 2 resourceWeb sites

War Poetry | Rudyard Kipling: Poems

Using YouTube on campus help and instructions
In this section you will find the poem as well as online content that provides additional background information and literary criticism. Scroll down to see all the content.

The Last of the Light Brigade

by Rudyard Kipling

There were thirty million English who talked of England's might,
There were twenty broken troopers who lacked a bed for the night.
They had neither food nor money, they had neither service nor trade;
They were only shiftless soldiers, the last of the Light Brigade.

They felt that life was fleeting; they knew not that art was long,
That though they were dying of famine, they lived in deathless song.
They asked for a little money to keep the wolf from the door;
And the thirty million English sent twenty pounds and four !

They laid their heads together that were scarred and lined and grey;
Keen were the Russian sabres, but want was keener than they;
And an old Troop-Sergeant muttered, "Let us go to the man who writes
The things on Balaclava the kiddies at school recites."

They went without bands or colours, a regiment ten-file strong,
To look for the Master-singer who had crowned them all in his song;
And, waiting his servant's order, by the garden gate they stayed,
A desolate little cluster, the last of the Light Brigade.

They strove to stand to attention, to straighen the toil-bowed back;
They drilled on an empty stomach, the loose-knit files fell slack;
With stooping of weary shoulders, in garments tattered and frayed,
They shambled into his presence, the last of the Light Brigade.

The old Troop-Sergeant was spokesman, and "Beggin' your pardon," he said,
"You wrote o' the Light Brigade, sir. Here's all that isn't dead.
An' it's all come true what you wrote, sir, regardin' the mouth of hell;
For we're all of us nigh to the workhouse, an' we thought we'd call an' tell.

"No, thank you, we don't want food, sir; but couldn't you take an' write
A sort of 'to be continued' and 'see next page' o' the fight?
We think that someone has blundered, an' couldn't you tell 'em how?
You wrote we were heroes once, sir. Please, write we are starving now."

The poor little army departed, limping and lean and forlorn.
And the heart of the Master-singer grew hot with "the scorn of scorn."
And he wrote for them wonderful verses that swept the land like flame,
Till the fatted souls of the English were scourged with the thing called Shame.

They sent a cheque to the felon that sprang from an Irish bog;
They healed the spavined cab-horse; they housed the homeless dog;
And they sent (you may call me a liar), when felon and beast were paid,
A cheque, for enough to live on, to the last of the Light Brigade.

O thirty million English that babble of England's might,
Behold there are twenty heroes who lack their food to-night;
Our children's children are lisping to "honour the charge they made - "
And we leave to the streets and the workhouse the charge of the Light Brigade!

 

Source: Kipling R. (2014) The Last of the Light Brigade. Retrieved from http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_brigade.htm

Using YouTube on campus help and instructions
In this section you will find the poem as well as online content that provides additional background information and literary criticism.

My Boy Jack

by Rudyard Kipling

1914-18

"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.

Source: Kipling R. (2014) My Boy Jack. Retrieved from http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_jack.htm

 

Using YouTube on campus help and instructions
In this section you will find the poem as well as online content that provides additional background information and literary criticism.

For All We Have And Are

by Rudyard Kipling

1914

For all we have and are,
For all our children's fate,
Stand up and take the war.
The Hun is at the gate!
Our world has passed away,
In wantonness o'erthrown.
There is nothing left to-day
But steel and fire and stone!
     Though all we knew depart,
     The old Commandments stand:—
     "In courage keep your heart,
     In strength lift up your hand."

Once more we hear the word
That sickened earth of old:—
"No law except the Sword
Unsheathed and uncontrolled."
Once more it knits mankind,
Once more the nations go
To meet and break and bind
A crazed and driven foe.

Comfort, content, delight,
The ages' slow-bought gain,
They shrivelled in a night.
Only ourselves remain
To face the naked days
In silent fortitude,
Through perils and dismays
Renewed and re-renewed.
     Though all we made depart,
     The old Commandments stand:—
     "In patience keep your heart,
     In strength lift up your hand."

No easy hope or lies
Shall bring us to our goal,
But iron sacrifice
Of body, will, and soul.
There is but one task for all—
One life for each to give.
What stands if Freedom fall?
Who dies if England live?

Source: Kipling R. (2014) For All We Have And Are. Retrieved from https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/57431/for-all-we-have-and-are


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