Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Vampire by Rudyard Kipling

The Vampire 
by Rudyard Kipling

A fool there was and he made his prayer
(Even as you and I!)
To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair
(We called her the woman who did not care),
But the fool he called her his lady fair
(Even as you and I!)

Oh the years we waste and the tears we waste
And the work of our head and hand,
Belong to the woman who did not know
(And now we know that she never could know)
And did not understand.

A fool there was and his goods he spent
(Even as you and I!)
Honor and faith and a sure intent
But a fool must follow his natural bent
(And it wasn’t the least what the lady meant),
(Even as you and I!)

Oh the toil we lost and the spoil we lost
And the excellent things we planned,
Belong to the woman who didn’t know why
(And now we know she never knew why)
And did not understand.

The fool we stripped to his foolish hide
(Even as you and I!)
Which she might have seen when she threw him aside—
(But it isn’t on record the lady tried)
So some of him lived but the most of him died—
(Even as you and I!)

And it isn’t the shame and it isn’t the blame
That stings like a white hot brand.

It’s coming to know that she never knew why
(Seeing at last she could never know why)
And never could understand.

The poem was famously written as the result of this painting by Philip Burne Jones, but it seems some other factors might have caused a tiny undercurrent in the work.  Personally I rather like much of the parody by Felicia Blake, it begins:
        A fool there was and she lowered her pride
                (Even as you and I)
    To a bunch of conceit in a masculine hide
We saw the faults that could not be denied;
    But the Fool saw only his manly side—
                (Even as you and I).
 And I will post the rest of that next week! :)

So in the meantime I am thinking of Rudyard Kipling as a man scorned and am tempted to find out more - but so much to do today...


A.J. Ponder's books are available through Rona Gallery, Amazon, Paper Plus and good Wellington bookstores.

 PS - yes the vampire picture was also used in "Lullaby for Vampires" March 29 2011


  1. Most interesting choice Alicia. I think I prefer his children's work! He seems a bit lost in this one...the fool aspect maybe. Love the parody!

    1. Yes, totally agree with all three points - but couldn't resist the moment I saw it - and you know, sometimes it doesn't hurt to recognise that even your heroes have flaws. ;)

  2. Spooky old Rudyard!

    Have a Happy World Poetry Day.


    Andrew Bell

  3. Cheers Andrew, back at you - and great poem BTW