'The Vampire' by Rudyard Kipling

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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.

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Vampire by Rudyard Kipling: A Dark and Haunting Tale

Have you ever felt the icy grip of fear as you read a poem? Have you ever been transported to a place of darkness and despair by mere words on a page?

That is the power of Rudyard Kipling's "The Vampire." This haunting and macabre poem is a masterpiece of Gothic literature, a genre that revels in the darker aspects of human nature and the supernatural.

At its core, "The Vampire" is a cautionary tale about the dangers of desire and the seductive power of evil. The poem tells the story of a young man who is lured into the arms of a beautiful and mysterious woman, only to discover too late that she is not what she seems.

Kipling employs a variety of literary devices to create a sense of foreboding and doom throughout the poem. From the use of vivid imagery to the repetition of key phrases, each element of the poem contributes to its overall effect. Let's take a closer look at some of these devices and how they contribute to the poem's impact.


One of the most striking aspects of "The Vampire" is its powerful use of imagery. Kipling paints a vivid picture of the woman at the center of the poem, describing her as "red-lipped and wide-eyed" with "white hands." This description creates a sense of both beauty and danger, as the woman's appearance is alluring but also suggests a certain otherworldliness.

Kipling also employs imagery to convey a sense of decay and corruption. He describes the woman's breath as "rank with roses," a phrase that suggests a sweetness that has turned sour. The image of her "pale throat" further emphasizes her connection to death and the supernatural.

Finally, Kipling uses imagery to create a sense of movement and transformation. The woman in the poem is described as "light as a snowflake" and "swift as a swallow," giving her a sense of otherworldly speed and agility. This movement is further emphasized in the poem's closing lines, where the woman is described as "dancing in what seemed a scarlet shroud."


Another key element of "The Vampire" is its use of repetition. Kipling repeats certain phrases throughout the poem, creating a sense of rhythm and emphasizing key themes.

For example, the phrase "Come buy" is repeated several times throughout the poem, each time with a slightly different connotation. At first, the phrase is an invitation, a seductive call to the young man. As the poem progresses, however, the phrase takes on a more sinister tone, suggesting that the woman is not offering pleasure but something far more dangerous.

Kipling also repeats the phrase "The vampire" throughout the poem, underscoring the woman's true nature and reinforcing the poem's central theme. This repetition creates a sense of inevitability, as though the young man is already caught in the woman's grasp and cannot escape.

Rhyme and Meter

Finally, Kipling's use of rhyme and meter in "The Vampire" contributes to its overall impact. The poem is written in iambic tetrameter, a meter that creates a sense of forward momentum and urgency. This urgency is echoed in the poem's rhyme scheme, which alternates between ABAB and CDCD.

This rhyme scheme creates a sense of symmetry and balance, but also suggests a certain inevitability. The poem's structure suggests that the young man is caught in a cycle that he cannot break free from, a cycle that will ultimately lead to his destruction.


In conclusion, "The Vampire" is a masterful work of Gothic literature that explores the darker aspects of human nature and the supernatural. Through its vivid imagery, repetition of key phrases, and careful use of rhyme and meter, the poem creates a sense of foreboding and doom that is both compelling and unsettling.

As we read the poem, we are drawn into the young man's story and his eventual downfall. We feel his fear and his desire, and we are left with a sense of unease that lingers long after the poem has ended.

If you have not yet experienced the power of "The Vampire," I urge you to read it for yourself. Let Kipling's words transport you to a world of darkness and danger, where the lure of desire can lead to destruction and death.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry has always been a medium for expressing emotions and ideas in a unique and creative way. Rudyard Kipling's "The Vampire" is a classic example of how poetry can be used to explore the darker side of human nature. This poem is a haunting and eerie depiction of a vampire's seduction of a young woman. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and symbolism used in "The Vampire" to understand the deeper meaning behind this classic poem.

The poem begins with a description of the vampire's physical appearance. Kipling uses vivid imagery to create a sense of unease and fear in the reader. The vampire is described as having "long and white and thin" fingers, "eyes like a furnace," and "lips where smiles went out." These descriptions create a sense of danger and foreboding, suggesting that the vampire is not to be trusted.

The vampire's seduction of the young woman is portrayed as a slow and deliberate process. Kipling uses repetition to emphasize the vampire's persistence in pursuing his prey. The lines "She leaned against the casement-bar, / Her eyes were sad and thin" are repeated twice in the poem, highlighting the woman's vulnerability and the vampire's determination to win her over.

The theme of temptation is central to the poem. The vampire is portrayed as a seductive and alluring figure, tempting the young woman with promises of eternal life and love. Kipling uses the metaphor of the vampire as a predator to explore the idea of temptation and the dangers of giving in to our desires. The vampire's seduction of the young woman can be seen as a warning against the dangers of giving in to our darkest impulses.

The poem also explores the theme of death and the afterlife. The vampire's promise of eternal life is a tempting offer for the young woman, who is described as being "weary with dreams." Kipling uses the image of the vampire as a symbol of death, suggesting that the young woman is being lured into a world of darkness and despair. The poem can be seen as a meditation on the nature of death and the afterlife, and the dangers of seeking immortality at any cost.

The imagery used in "The Vampire" is rich and evocative. Kipling uses a range of sensory details to create a vivid and haunting atmosphere. The image of the vampire's "eyes like a furnace" creates a sense of heat and intensity, while the description of the young woman's "sad and thin" eyes suggests a sense of weariness and despair. The use of color imagery is also significant, with the vampire's "white and thin" fingers and the young woman's "pale and wan" complexion creating a sense of otherworldliness and detachment.

The symbolism used in the poem is also significant. The vampire can be seen as a symbol of temptation and desire, while the young woman represents innocence and vulnerability. The image of the vampire as a predator can be seen as a symbol of death and decay, while the young woman's longing for eternal life can be seen as a symbol of hope and renewal. The poem can be read as a meditation on the nature of life and death, and the struggle between our desires and our fears.

In conclusion, Rudyard Kipling's "The Vampire" is a haunting and evocative poem that explores the darker side of human nature. Through vivid imagery, rich symbolism, and a powerful use of language, Kipling creates a sense of unease and foreboding that lingers long after the poem has ended. The themes of temptation, death, and the afterlife are explored in a way that is both thought-provoking and unsettling. "The Vampire" is a classic example of how poetry can be used to explore the deepest and darkest aspects of the human psyche, and it remains a powerful and enduring work of literature.

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