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My Boy Jack

[words Rudyard Kipling, music Peter Bellamy]

Rudyard Kipling wrote My Boy Jack after the loss of his only son at the battle of Loos in 1915. It was published in his book The Years Between (Methuen, 1919).

Peter Bellamy sang My Boy Jack on his fourth album of songs set to Kipling's poems, Keep on Kipling, accompanying himself on concertina. This recording was also included on his anthology Wake the Vaulted Echoes.

Debra Cowan sang My Boy Jack live at the Bacca Pipes Folk Club, Keighley, West Yorkshire, in November 2006. This recording was released in 2012 on her CD Among Friends.

Lady Maisery sang My Boy Jack in 2011 on their CD Weave & Spin. They commented in their liner notes:

This was originally a poem written by Rudyard Kipling in 1915 after his son went missing in action during the First World War. The tune we sing is based on the one composed by Peter Bellamy for his 1982 Keep on Kipling album.

Peter and Barbara Snape sang My Boy Jack on their 2011 CD Revel & Rally. Barbara Snape noted:

From a poem written in 1916 by Rudyard Kipling, whose son John was killed in action at the battle of Loos in September the previous year. Set to music by Mr Peter Bellamy, it is a very moving and emotive song.


Rudyard Kipling's My Boy Jack

“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!”