Poetry Interlude: The Stranger, by Rudyard Kipling

21 Sep

Cornfield and vineyard; Lacey Estates Vineyard & Winery; Hillier, Ontario.

Cornfield (foreground) and vineyard (background); Lacey Estates Vineyard & Winery; Hillier, Ontario.

The Stranger within my gate,
He may be true or kind,
But he does not talk my talk–
I cannot feel his mind.
I see the face and the eyes and the mouth,
But not the soul behind.

The men of my own stock,
They may do ill or well,
But they tell the lies I am wanted to,
They are used to the lies I tell;
And we do not need interpreters
When we go to buy or sell.

The Stranger within my gates,
He may be evil or good,
But I cannot tell what powers control–
What reasons sway his mood;
Nor when the Gods of his far-off land
Shall repossess his blood.

The men of my own stock,
Bitter bad they may be,
But, at least, they hear the things I hear,
And see the things I see;
And whatever I think of them and their likes
They think of the likes of me.

This was my father’s belief
And this is also mine:
Let the corn be all one sheaf–
And the grapes be all one vine,
Ere our children’s teeth are set on edge
By bitter bread and wine.*


Posted by on September 21, 2013 in poetry


11 responses to “Poetry Interlude: The Stranger, by Rudyard Kipling

  1. infowarrior1

    September 21, 2013 at 3:47 am

    @Will S

    You should check out this link:

    Re-fighting the reformation?

  2. Will S.

    September 21, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Hey infowarrior:

    Not exactly, as Novaseeker is Eastern Orthodox. But Eastern Orthodox share a similar way of thinking about things, in many regards, as our Roman Catholic friends do, because their respective traditions have much (though not everything) in common.

    I’m not interested in joining that discussion. I can see why Novaseeker thinks as he does, but I don’t myself believe in ‘the goodness of what is already in the world’, and while I could object on that basis, I see no reason to get involved.


  3. Will S.

    September 21, 2013 at 9:04 am

    And that’s all I have to say on that subject, in this thread.

  4. Will S.

    September 21, 2013 at 9:07 am

    As regards this poem, I’ve always been intrigued with the fact Kipling subtitled it ‘Canadian’, and have wondered why; I’ve never found an answer for that, in trying to do simple internet searches. It could have something to do with Canada’s ‘two solitudes’, but I’m not sure about that.

  5. Gerry T. Neal

    September 21, 2013 at 7:14 pm

    I memorized these verses years ago. I don’t know for sure what the “Canadian” subtitle refers to. The poem was first published in 1908, one of the periodicals carrying it being “Vancouver World”. Kipling had visited Vancouver in 1889, 1892 and again in 1907, just before the publication of the poem. I had assumed, therefore, that the subtitle simply indicated that he had written it in Canada.

  6. Will S.

    September 21, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    Oh! That makes sense. Thanks Gerry!

  7. electricangel

    September 24, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    Man winter comes early in Canada. Has anyone been eaten by a polar bear yet? Or is that only early October that that starts?

  8. Will S.

    September 24, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    EA, that pic is from late November, 2010. 🙂

    Actually, while it has been cool lately – fall-like temperatures, appropriate since it is now fall – we had a blast of summer weather again this afternoon, and are likely going to for the rest of the week, I heard. Too bad; I prefer cool for study and sleep…


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