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My Boy Jack

(1916)

Kipling wrote this poem about his beloved son John (also known as Jack). During World War I Jack was an 18 year old Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion, Irish Guards. Jack went missing in September 1915 during the Battle of Loos. This poem was first published as a preface to a story in his book Sea Warfare written about the Battle of Jutland in 1916.

"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!

In 1997 British actor David Haig wrote the play My Boy Jack. In 2007 it was adapted for ITV television. Haig stars as Kipling alongside actor Daniel Radcliffe who portrays Jack. The fictional award-winning movie follows Rudyard Kipling, his wife Caroline (played by Kim Cattrall), their daughter Elsie and son Jack in the events leading up to, and the after-math of his death during World War I and the Battle of Loos.



Rudyard Kipling