My Boy Jack

My Boy Jack by Rudyard Kipling

My Boy Jack was written by Rudyard Kipling in 1915. Emotionally distraught by the death of his son John at the Battle of Loos, Kipling was likely expressing his grief and loss while writing; however, most agree today that his son was not the subject of the poem. Published as a prelude to Sea Warfare, Kipling’s book on Royal Navy actions, My Boy Jack makes use of nautical imagery and likely refers to a “Jack Tar” – the naval equivalent to the British “Tommy” of the infantry.
My By Jack
-Rudyard Kipling

Second Lieutenant John Kipling. Unit: 2nd Battalion, Irish Guards. Death: 27 September 1915 wounded and missing at Loos beyond the Chalk Pit Wood, Western Front. © IWM (HU 123608)

“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!