Rudyard Kipling Poems That Will Kindle Your Love For Poetry

Rudyard Kipling poems cover image

Rudyard Kipling is mostly known for the magical world he created inside a jungle with a boy raised by wolves. But many people are unaware that Kipling also wrote poetry and some of his poems are a delight to read. Although all of his poems are worthy of reading, we have amassed 5 of his poems that we think are brilliant. We’ll also be adding a short description of the poem and why we think it got a spot on this list. So here are 5 Rudyard Kipling poems and what makes them special.

The poems included in the list are:

  • The Way Through the Woods
  • If
  • Mother O’ Mine
  • Sea Lullaby
  • The Power of the Dog

All the poems in this list are under the public domain

The Way Through the Woods

They shut the road through the woods

      Seventy years ago.

Weather and rain have undone it again,

      And now you would never know

There was once a road through the woods

      Before they planted the trees.

It is underneath the coppice and heath,

      And the thin anemones.

      Only the keeper sees

That, where the ring-dove broods,

      And the badgers roll at ease,

There was once a road through the woods.

Yet, if you enter the woods

      Of a summer evening late,

When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools

      Where the otter whistles his mate,

(They fear not men in the woods,

      Because they see so few.)

You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet,

      And the swish of a skirt in the dew,

      Steadily cantering through

The misty solitudes,

      As though they perfectly knew

      The old lost road through the woods.

But there is no road through the woods.

The Way Through the Woods is a poem about the past, a poem about something that once used to be, but now all that remains is just a faint, fading memory. Kipling is talking about a path through the woods that was once traversed by many but now is abandoned. But this does not mean there are no travelers. 

Kipling mentions that there was a girl who used to move through the woods on the paths that are faded now. The reason it is a girl is that in one of the previous short stories prior to this poem, Kipling talks about a girl who used to visit the woods all the time. She died later but her spirit still remains. So we know that the beats of horse’s feet that men hear and fear are of the spirit of this girl.

If

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 wornout 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!

All the best lessons a father could give to their children is what this poem encompasses. Each line of this poem has a message that tells the readers how to live life to the fullest in the best way possible, to be more than what one is destined to be, and break the barriers that hold you behind. This poem is perhaps the best motivational poem and one can take so much from it. 

If you’d like to read more about If poem by Rudyard Kipling, click here for a dedicated article for the same. 

Mother o’ Mine

If I were hanged on the highest hill,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

I know whose love would follow me still,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

If I were drowned in the deepest sea,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

I know whose tears would come down to me,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

If I were damned of body and soul,

I know whose prayers would make me whole,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

What is purer, more pristine, and more selfless like a mother’s love for her child? Kipling has tried to show the power and resilience of that love with hyperbolic examples. But there’s more. It is also about the trust the poet has in her mother that no matter what happens or where he wounds up, his mother would always come for him. This beautiful love and trust and the relations between mother and son are what the poem conveys. 

Sea Lullaby

Oh! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us, 

   And black are the waters that sparkled so green. 

The moon, o’er the combers, looks downward to find us 

   At rest in the hollows that rustle between. 

Where billow meets billow, there soft be thy pillow; 

   Ah, weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease! 

The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee, 

   Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas.

As the name suggests, this poem is a sea lullaby, the lullaby for the toddlers sailing in the sea. What’s beautiful about this poem is how the poet captures the scenes of the sea and pulls the readers into the sailing ship, in the dark night. You can almost feel being there in the sea, looking through the window and seeing the reflection of the silver moon over the dark sea. 

The power of the dog; one of Rudyard Kipling poems

The Power of the Dog

There is sorrow enough in the natural way

From men and women to fill our day;

And when we are certain of sorrow in store,

Why do we always arrange for more?

Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware

Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy

Love unflinching that cannot lie—

Perfect passion and worship fed

By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.

Nevertheless it is hardly fair

To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits

Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,

And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs

To lethal chambers or loaded guns,

Then you will find—it’s your own affair—

But… you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,

With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!).

When the spirit that answered your every mood

Is gone—wherever it goes—for good,

You will discover how much you care,

And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,

When it comes to burying Christian clay.

Our loves are not given, but only lent,

At compound interest of cent per cent.

Though it is not always the case, I believe,

That the longer we’ve kept ’em, the more do we grieve:

For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,

A short-time loan is as bad as a long—

So why in—Heaven (before we are there)

Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

A very interestingly written poem in which Kipling, in a sarcastic and dismissive tone, explains his love for a dog and the pain of losing one. Kipling says that we humans already have a lot of pain for us, why would we want to have more? And by getting into more pain, he means loving a dog. This would make the readers raise their eyebrows. A dog is a lovely creature and perhaps the only animal to stay by your side forever.

But he says that once you start loving the dog, no matter how long, a day or a year, when you lose the dog, you will feel an unbearable pain that will make you suffer. Because dogs will be in your life not more than 14 years so the poet presents the dog as a ticking bomb, set to go off in around 14 years and when it does, there will be a wave of pain added to the pain you already have. 

So these were the five Rudyard Kipling poems that we think are worth a read, even if you don’t read poetry that often. This is because these poems are so easy to read, understand, and feel. Since you are here, why don’t you spend some more time with us? Here are some related articles you should read:

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