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The Vampire Analysis

Author: Poetry of Rudyard Kipling Type: Poetry Views: 1354

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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.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: :.

The vampire is desire. All is sacrificed to an oblivious object of desire. The object (woman in this case) is not to blame -- it is desire that depletes men.

| Posted on 2015-12-05 | by a guest

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No, it's not an allegory about the British Empire, and it's not about literal Dracula style vampires. It's an everyday story of a deluded man being 'taken to the cleaners' by a woman who doesn't love him.

| Posted on 2015-08-16 | by a guest

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From a non-feminist (or realist) point of view, the poem depicts accurately the (beta?) male urge to pedestalise the object of his desire ("and he made his prayer"), the female need for a male to provide resources ("his goods he spent"), and the equally strong female urge to hypergamy i.e. trading up partners when a better offer comes along, at which point "she threw him aside".
The poem is about self-deception - the image of the woman, built by the fool, which is shattered by her behaviour. The poem points out that most men are capable of such self-deception about a woman's true nature ("Even as you and I"), when knowledge of that truth would conflict with the "lady fair" of imagination. His friends can see ("we called her the women who did not care") but he's blinded by the picture he's so lovingly created, and goes on to be stripped of his goods and of his pride.
At the conclusion of the poem the man is at last aware of the truth - experiencing the bitterness of the realisation that the woman was never who he imagined her to be, that his "honour and faith and a sure intent" were not so much rejected by her as incomprehensible, completely meaningless, to one who is basically amoral. She never could know, and could not understand.

| Posted on 2013-11-12 | by a guest

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From a feminist point of view, the poem may represent the way women were seen by men in a XIX centrury Western industrialised male-dominated society. The man asumes the role of the financial provider (\"and his goods he spent\") and expects the woman to be his \"lady\" i.e. a subjugated child bearer, free house keeper and source of sexual satisfaction. It is evident from the dehumanised way the woman in question is referred to through such expression as \"a rag and a bone and a hank of hair\" that she is perceived as a mere object. Thus, isntead of treating the woman as an equal human being, the man vampirises her and strips her of her humanity, reducing her to a fetish. However, the lady doesn\'t uderstand the role he expects her to asume and takes his gifts without any commitment, which makes the man feel frustrated and \"thrown aside\".

| Posted on 2013-04-04 | by a guest

.: :.

There are poets who\'ve written some marvelous verse
In trying to put Kipling down;
But in characterizing his poem as terse,
They go about playing the clown.
They misunderstand as they\'re building their pyre
(Even as they and as I!)
Twas not the doll, Kipling made his vampire;
It\'s more poignant than that;
Twas the guy.
David Stitch Stafford

| Posted on 2012-12-07 | by a guest

.: :.

A hank of hair & a piece of bone sound like items used in conjuring the dead.

| Posted on 2012-11-02 | by a guest

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Far too glib. We haven\'t yet heard from the vampire....

| Posted on 2012-08-30 | by a guest

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\"she\" is a histrionic personality disordered woman without insight. See Wiki. \"He\" falls in love with her. and is partly destroyed. I (a mature aged man) have just ended such a process aftre 4 months of agony. and realised just this week that she could never understand.

| Posted on 2012-02-03 | by a guest

.: :.

A fool (... must follow his natural bent),
despite the his best intents and attempts,
finds that the (love/wholeness/integrity) object sought cannot possibly be,
because the purposes anticipated were different (... wasn\'t the least what the lady meant),
and neither could ever comprehend.
Eros and Eris, Cosmos and Chaos, order and entropy - each seeks the Other, depends on the Other, and can only BECOME through the Other -
but can never fully join the Other -
\"So some of him lived but the most of him died --(Even as you and I!)\"
To love and lose is better than not to have ever; marry not your muse.
The pain in not being comprehended is in the need to be comprehended, not the fact that the jester never was -
\"We called her the woman who did not care.\"
(And now we know she never knew why)
(But it isn\'t on record the lady tried)
(Seeing at last she could never know why)

| Posted on 2011-11-02 | by a guest

.: :.

The first line of the fifth verse is incorrect. It should be
The fool *was* stripped to his foolish hide,
The incorrect \"we\" changes the meaning and robs much of the fellow-feeling from the poem.

| Posted on 2011-10-14 | by a guest

.: :.

Just reading this, I wouldn\'t think she was *literally* a vampire, although I know the poem was inspired by a painting of a vampiress by Philip Burne-Jones.

| Posted on 2010-10-23 | by a guest

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This poem may be read as an encounter between a man and a woman but its true meaning is on a much deeper level. The \"man\" is the rapcious nature of the British Empire and the \"woman\" is the Asian conquest by that empire. The point is, the collective British attitude was Asia didn\'t know what was good for it, but Kipling is much more subtle and completely un-appreciate today. He knew this growing up in both worlds and tried to convey the disillusion with a profound sarcasm which most readers (including critics) mistake today for a naive jingoism. Nothing could be further from the truth! --M. P. Malkerson

| Posted on 2010-08-03 | by a guest

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The poem is about self-delusion, and how a fool (even as you and I might) makes from an uncaring person an image of his true love. It describes, though before the terms were current, what modern psychological practice calls advanced narcissism, where the delusional person makes something out of nothing, mostly to reflect his own glorified personality. The last stanza goes beyond, and speaks of the irony that the object, when herself a narcissist, could never know why, could never understand.

| Posted on 2010-04-28 | by a guest

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The poem basically illustrates the basis of the pain after a break-up; it is not the fact that we are breaking up itself that makes our emotions go haywire, but the fact that we realize something we thought as crucial to what constitutes our own identity turns out to be false. The realization that our fictional coherency is indeed that--fictional--is shattering to one's ego.

| Posted on 2009-09-28 | by a guest

.: :.

The poem tells the story of a man who gave sincere affection and devotion to a woman who only appreciated his material gifts (his work, toil, goods, etc). The fool is devastated, left half dead (unmanned? incapable of feeling again?) by the experience. It explains that the "fool" was only following his heart, and couldn't be expected to do otherwise, being who he is. It also points out that the fool is no different than the speaker (i.e. "even as you and I" = we can all be fools for love); and that the worst, most hurtful part of the realization one has been used and tossed aside is NOT our shame at being a fool or the blame we direct at the "vampire", but rather the understanding that we have fooled ourselves; we believed what we wanted, and the "vampire" who bleeds us dry cannot be blamed for accepting what she was given, or for not offering something she was incapable of giving. Hence, the "coming to know that she never knew why" ...but that isn't HER fault, any more than it's his fault for "making his prayer" (perhaps wanting her love, not being explicit, but rather just giving things?) to a woman incapable of loving him. In the end, the speaker indicates she COULD never, and never did, understand at all; the worst pain is the realization of having sacrificed everything for the love of someone incapable of loving us back, especially when they never claimed they could.

| Posted on 2009-06-08 | by a guest

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I don't really understand it. This poem has confused me since the first time I've read it. At first, I thought it was a vampire who lost his lover. But now, I am starting to think it was a female who seduced a man and either--literally--half killed him (as in, turning him in to a vampire), or that she broke his heart, hence leaving him half-dead. Either way, I love this poem. Always going to be one of my most favorite.

| Posted on 2009-06-02 | by a guest

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Absolutely not - the woman put him through the wringer, and she was the vampire for leaving half dead after she broke up with him...

| Posted on 2009-05-20 | by a guest

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This poem is very confusing and rips apart the readers mind. A vampire has lost his love and is praying to her remains.

| Posted on 2008-12-17 | by a guest

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