Advertisements

A Short Analysis of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Mother o’ Mine’

‘Mother o’ Mine’ was published as a dedication to Kipling’s 1892 book The Light That Failed. Like many of Kipling’s greatest poems, it’s song-like, lending itself to being read or even sung or chanted aloud. It’s also a fine poem about a poet paying tribute to his mother.

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!

‘Mother o’ Mine’ had a curious origin: the poem was published as a dedication to Kipling’s 1892 book The Light That Failed. Because of the less-than-happy ending of that book, Kipling probably added ‘Mother o’ Mine’ to the beginning of the book as a way of saying sorry to his mother for having displeased her; she’d have preferred the happy ending.

A mother provides unconditional love for her children, and Kipling’s ‘Mother o’ Mine’ pays tribute to this fact. If Kipling were hanged for some crime or misdemeanour, his mother would still love him; if he suffered some tragic misfortune such as being drowned, his mother would mourn him; and if he committed a sin so terrible that he was damned in body and soul, he knows that his mother would pray for his salvation.

Artists have not always paid appropriate tribute to their mothers. William Faulkner, for instance, said: ‘If a writer has to rob his mother he will not hesitate; the ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ is worth any number of old ladies.’ But as another great twentieth-century writer, James Joyce, observed: ‘Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother’s love is not.’ For Kipling, certainly, it appears to have been true.

Advertisements

About interestingliterature

A blog dedicated to rooting out the interesting stuff about classic books and authors.

Posted on November 25, 2018, in Literature and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

%d bloggers like this: