Rudyard Kipling’s Writing Style Analysis

Categories: Rudyard Kipling

Poet Style Analysis Essay

Rudyard Kipling was an English poet, famous for his poems which showcase his encouraging, humanistic style. His popularity, even today is due to the success of works, such as “My Boy Jack”, “Gunga Din”, and “If”, which fully convey his emphasis on human spirit and ethics, as well as using an encouraging tone to further inspire the reader. Kipling’s common theme found in all of his works, which is that in order to make the world a more “harmonious” place, we must all encourage unity and learn to coexist with others, as well as emphasizing our role to help inspire and help others in times of disorder and conflict.

The poetic devices that help Kipling convey this common theme in his works are hyperbole, repetition, theme, and imagery in which were effectively used in his poems, “If”, “My Boy Jack”, and “Gunga Din”.

One of Kipling’s poems, “If” uses the poetic devices: hyperbole and repetition to help the reader understand the underlying message in the poem that Kipling wanted to send to the reader.

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In the poem, it starts off with what appears to be a father giving his son a lesson in life, and how he can succeed in life, despite the obstacles presented to him. To get effectively get the message through, Kipling enlists the help of hyperbole to develop the sense that the boy can accomplish anything in life, if he can always remember his father’s virtues. The poem states, “Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch, if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you.

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” (Stanza 4). As you can see from the quote, it shows the reader that in order to persevere in life, one must have the determination to be powerful, but must also do so in a ethic and morally correct manner, and still appeal to “ordinary people” hence the term, “common touch”. The second line shows that you cannot let your “enemies” stop you from attaining your goals, but that it also applies to your loved ones as well. People will often prevent themselves from attaining their goals if it means that they have to leave or isolate themselves from their friends and family. Kipling is telling the reader to disregard those thoughts, and that your goals will pay off in the long run and that you won’t regret your decision. The poem “If” also enlists the use of repetition, to strengthen and plant what Kipling believes are virtues inside the reader’s head. This is apparent due to the word “If” being used 13 times in the poem. This tells the reader that nothing in guaranteed in life, and that it’s up to you to make the decisions that will “befall” you in the future. However, the use of “If” also tells the reader that while the decisions will be difficult, if you can successfully maneuver through these obstacles, it will lead to you becoming a stronger person, both financially and mentally. The poem “If” thus conveys Kipling’s common theme of coexistence and peacekeeping by inspiring the reader to maintain a “good heart” and always express their virtues throughout their lives

Another poem that helps Kipling’s common theme is “My Boy Jack” which uses the poetic device theme. The poem starts off with a man asking someone if he had heard of his boy Jack. The person replies, “Not this tide” (Stanza 1) which offers little comfort to the man asking the question. He asks the person again, “Has another one else had word of him?” (Stanza 2), and once again the person responds in detached manner stating that, “For what is sunk will hardly swim, not with this wind blowing, and this tide” (Stanza 2). This depressing quote only offers scant hope to the man who begins to realize that he must accept his son’s death and that he isn’t coming back. He then asks another person, “Oh dear, what comfort can I find?” (Stanza 3), and this time, the answer comes in a more optimistic tone. The man replies, “None this tide,Nor any tide, Except he did not shame his kind---,Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.”(Stanza 3). The man is saying that while the person has to accept the loss of his son, he did not bring shame to his family, and that he died for his country. For context, the poem was written during WWI, in which Kipling’s son died in the fighting and Kipling composed this poem to help others deal with the grief of losing their own family members during the war. The poem ends with the same person telling the grief-stricken man, “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.” (Stanza 4). The last stanza is what fully conveys the theme of the poem in which despite whether happens to you and your loved ones, one must continue to be optimistic and to encourage peace throughout the world, which is what Kipling wanted after the destruction that WWI caused. Thus, we can see how the theme of the poem, “My Boy Jack” also supports Kipling’s common theme in all of his works which is that it is up to us to make the world a better place to live in, and the importance of peace and unity cannot be underestimated.

Another poem that helps convey Kipling’s common theme is “Gunga Din” which uses the poetic device imagery. In the poem, it starts off with a British soldier stationed in India during the 1890s, and he tells the audience that in India, a soldier’s work relies on water due to torrid environment of India. Thus, the soldiers enlisted the aid of regimental bhisti(water-carrier), in which their finest member was a man called “Gunga Din”. However, because Gunga Din is a Hindu, he is treated harshly by the soldiers, as the text states, “You limpin’ lump o’ brick-dust, Gunga Din! You squidgy-nosed old idol, Gunga Din.” (Stanza 1). However, despite the abuse directed toward Gunga Din, he was loyal to the soldiers and was always in the crossfire helping tend to the wounded and never showed any cowardice in his behavior. The soldier then, tells the audience of the day when he was wounded by a bullet and Kipling uses imagery to help the reader better see the situation the soldier was in. The text states, “With a bullet where my belt-plate should ’a’ been., I was chokin’ mad with thirst, An’ the man that spied me first,Was our good old grinnin’, gruntin’ Gunga Din. ,’E lifted up my ’ead, An’ he plugged me where I bled, An’ ’e guv me ’arf-a-pint o’ water green., It was crawlin’ and it stunk, But of all the drinks I’ve drunk, I’m gratefullest to one from Gunga Din.”(Stanza 4). From the use of vivid words in the quote, we can see Gunga Din running towards the wounded soldier and trying to aid him despite the harsh treatment that he had to endure from him constantly. Gunga Din was struck by a bullet and died after saving the soldier, which made him realize how cruel he had been to Gunga Din, and he ends the poem with the words, “You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!” (Stanza 5). From the use of imagery, we can see the theme of this poem which is not to discriminate against anyone, because those people that you discriminate against may very well actually save your life in the future. This supports Kipling’s common theme of peace and coexistence, because it encourages a sense of tolerance, unity, and emphasizes the power of friendship because racism has throughout history been one of the root causes of warfare and destruction, and Kipling believed that if everyone learned to put aside their differences, world peace can finally be established and no longer would we have to endure the pain and suffering inflicted on us from warfare.

In conclusion, the use of hyperbole, repetition, and imagery in the poems, “If”,”My Boy Jack”, and “Gunga Din” effectively help Rudyard Kipling convey his common theme of working together with others to promote peace and coexistence throughout the world, as well as emphasizing our role to act as “peacekeepers” and help inspire and encourage people during harsh times. Kipling’s ability to convey his feelings for peace and unity in an abstract and appealing way is what still makes him resonate today, and is one of the main reasons why he is still phenomenally popular today.

Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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Rudyard Kipling’s Writing Style Analysis. (2024, Feb 12). Retrieved from

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