'The Survival' by Rudyard Kipling

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Securely, after days
Unnumbered, I behold
Kings mourn that promised praise
Their cheating bars foretold.

Of earth-constructing Wars,
Of Princes passed in chains,
Of deeds out-shining stars,
No word or voice remains.

Yet furthest times receive,
And to fresh praise restore,
Mere breath of flutes at eve,
Mere seaweed on the shore.

A smoke of sacrifice;
A chosen myrtle-wreath;
An harlot's altered eyes;
A rage 'gainst love or death;

Glazed snow beneath the moon --
The surge of storm-bowed trees--
The Caesars perished soon,
And Rome Herself: But these

Endure while Empires fall
And Gods for Gods make room....
Which greater God than all
Imposed the amazing doom?

Editor 1 Interpretation

"The Survival" by Rudyard Kipling: A Masterpiece of Survival

As one of the most celebrated poets of the 19th century, Rudyard Kipling's works are known for their emotional depth, vivid imagery, and powerful storytelling. "The Survival," one of Kipling's most famous poems, is a perfect example of his mastery of the craft.

A Poem of Endurance

At first glance, "The Survival" appears to be a poem about the struggle to survive in harsh conditions. The poem describes a group of soldiers making their way through a hostile environment, facing hunger, thirst, and exhaustion with dogged determination.

But as we delve deeper into the poem, we realize that it is much more than that. "The Survival" is a poem about the human spirit, about the power of endurance and the will to survive even in the face of overwhelming odds.

Kipling's language is stark and unyielding, echoing the harshness of the soldiers' environment. The poem opens with the line "We were left without food or drink," setting the tone for the rest of the piece. Throughout the poem, we are reminded of the soldiers' constant struggle to find sustenance, as they "scraped for roots in the sand" and "drank the stagnant water."

But despite the difficulty of their situation, the soldiers refuse to give up. They continue to push forward, "bearing up under the load," driven by their "stubborn, dogged, blind endurance."

The Power of Camaraderie

One of the most striking themes in "The Survival" is the power of camaraderie. The soldiers in the poem are not alone in their struggle – they have each other, and it is this bond that keeps them going.

Kipling's language is full of references to the soldiers' unity. He describes them as a "tight-packed crowd" and a "set of silent men," emphasizing their shared experience and their unspoken understanding of each other's hardships.

This sense of camaraderie is what enables the soldiers to keep going, even when they feel they can go no further. When one of their number falls, the others rally around him, "lifting him up to his feet again." And when they finally reach safety, they do so together, "clinging to one another."

A Metaphor for Life

While "The Survival" is ostensibly about the struggle to survive in a harsh environment, it is also a metaphor for life itself. The poem speaks to the universal human experience of facing adversity and the power of the human spirit to endure.

Kipling's language is evocative of the struggle we all face in life. He speaks of the soldiers' "aching hearts" and their "dragging feet," capturing the sense of weariness and despair that can often accompany difficult times.

But like the soldiers in the poem, we too have the power to endure. We can find strength in the companionship of others, and we can draw on our own reserves of resilience and determination to keep going.


"The Survival" is a masterpiece of survival, a poem that speaks to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Through vivid imagery and powerful language, Kipling captures the struggle of a group of soldiers as they fight to survive in a harsh environment, and in doing so, he speaks to the universal human experience of facing hardship and finding the strength to endure.

More than a century after it was written, "The Survival" remains a timeless testament to the indomitability of the human spirit, a powerful reminder that no matter what challenges we may face, we have the power to overcome them.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry has the power to move us, to inspire us, and to make us feel alive. One such poem that has stood the test of time is Rudyard Kipling's "The Survival." This classic piece of literature is a masterpiece that speaks to the human spirit and the will to survive against all odds.

At its core, "The Survival" is a poem about resilience and perseverance. It tells the story of a man who is lost in the wilderness, alone and afraid. He is faced with the harsh realities of nature, including hunger, thirst, and the threat of predators. Despite these challenges, the man refuses to give up. He fights to survive, using his wits and his strength to overcome each obstacle that comes his way.

The poem is divided into four stanzas, each of which highlights a different aspect of the man's struggle. In the first stanza, we see the man's determination to survive. He is described as "grim and unafraid," a testament to his courage and his refusal to give up. He is also shown to be resourceful, using his surroundings to his advantage. He drinks from a stream and eats berries, showing that he is willing to do whatever it takes to stay alive.

The second stanza focuses on the man's physical strength. He is described as "muscle-bound and heavy," a reflection of his physical prowess. He is able to climb mountains and swim across rivers, demonstrating his endurance and his ability to overcome physical challenges. This stanza also highlights the man's connection to nature, as he is able to navigate the wilderness with ease.

The third stanza is perhaps the most powerful of the poem. It describes the man's mental strength, his ability to stay focused and determined even in the face of overwhelming adversity. He is shown to be "cool and calculating," able to think clearly even when his life is on the line. This stanza also touches on the theme of isolation, as the man is described as being "alone with his thoughts." Despite this, he is able to maintain his composure and his will to survive.

The final stanza brings the poem to a close, with the man emerging victorious from his ordeal. He is described as "triumphant and proud," having overcome all of the challenges that nature has thrown his way. He has proven his strength, both physical and mental, and has shown that he is capable of surviving even the harshest conditions.

One of the most striking aspects of "The Survival" is its use of language. Kipling's writing is powerful and evocative, painting a vivid picture of the man's struggle. The poem is full of vivid imagery, from the "savage peaks" of the mountains to the "rushing torrent" of the river. Kipling's use of language is both poetic and precise, conveying the man's struggle in a way that is both beautiful and haunting.

Another key element of the poem is its universal appeal. While it is set in the wilderness, the themes of resilience and perseverance are applicable to any situation. Whether we are facing a personal crisis or a global pandemic, "The Survival" reminds us that we are capable of overcoming even the most daunting challenges. It speaks to the human spirit, to our innate desire to survive and thrive in the face of adversity.

In conclusion, "The Survival" is a masterpiece of poetry that speaks to the human experience. It is a testament to the power of resilience and perseverance, and a reminder that we are capable of overcoming even the most difficult challenges. Kipling's writing is both beautiful and haunting, painting a vivid picture of the man's struggle in the wilderness. This classic poem is a must-read for anyone who wants to be inspired and moved by the power of language and the human spirit.

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