Rudyard Kipling

(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936 / Bombay)

The Vampire


A fool there was and he made his prayer
(Even as you and I!)
To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair
(We called her the woman who did not care),
But the fool he called her his lady fair
(Even as you and I!)

Oh the years we waste and the tears we waste
And the work of our head and hand,
Belong to the woman who did not know
(And now we know that she never could know)
And did not understand.

A fool there was and his goods he spent
(Even as you and I!)
Honor and faith and a sure intent
But a fool must follow his natural bent
(And it wasn't the least what the lady meant),
(Even as you and I!)

Oh the toil we lost and the spoil we lost
And the excellent things we planned,
Belong to the woman who didn't know why
(And now we know she never knew why)
And did not understand.

The fool we stripped to his foolish hide
(Even as you and I!)
Which she might have seen when she threw him aside --
(But it isn't on record the lady tried)
So some of him lived but the most of him died --
(Even as you and I!)

And it isn't the shame and it isn't the blame
That stings like a white hot brand.
It's coming to know that she never knew why
(Seeing at last she could never know why)
And never could understand.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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Comments about this poem (The Vampire by Rudyard Kipling )

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  • Lee Crowell (5/5/2009 11:43:00 PM)

    Ripper says it all
    this poem rings true the strife that sometimes brings a man to his knees (Report) Reply

  • Ripper Moore (4/4/2008 3:49:00 PM)

    This poem is one of my favourites, and speaks to every male on the planet. Despite the name, it does not lay the blame on the lady. Rather, this is something we (men) do to ourselves, more or less, at some point in our lives. Hopefully, we survive it, and learn from it, and move on.
    On a different point, this version of the poem contains two transcription errors. I am aware that different texts will often disagree on precise wording, and the works of Kipling seem especially prone to this, but I am fairly certain these are errors. To wit: in the third verse, the fourth and fifth lines are reversed. It should read:
    (And it wasn't the least what the lady meant) ,
    But a fool must follow his natural bent
    Also, in the fifth verse, the first line should read: The fool 'was' stripped, not 'we' stripped. (Report) Reply

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