Friday, October 06, 2017

Rudyard Kipling: The Vampire (a poem)

Philip Burne-Jones: The Vampire (1897), the painting that inspired Rudyard Kipling's poem. The webmaster informs us that the painting and the poem were exhibited side by side. The painter is Philip Burne-Jones, not his father Edward. The exhibition took place a few months before the publication of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Image and data from the website Postcard Roundup. The original painting is in monochrome (see below).

Rudyard Kipling
The Vampire

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!)   
Honour and faith and a sure intent   
(And it wasn’t the least what the lady meant)
But a fool must follow his natural bent   
    (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 that she never knew why)   
    And did not understand!   

The fool was 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!”

Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936)
Public domain.

Philip Burne-Jones: The Vampire (1897). Public domain. Wikipedia. Please click to enlarge the image.

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