Poem of the Day,

or perhaps of the decade for those of us with small kids -- Kipling's Six Honest Serving Men

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views;
I know a person small --
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!

She sends 'em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes --
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!

My 2 1/2 year old is a Why child, I can totally understand this.

I'm confused though, I own Rudyard Kipling's "Just So Stories," in which "The Elephant's Child" appears. I've read it countless times. The website you link to claims the poem comes from "The Elephant's Child," but I don't ever remember reading this.

Not claiming that my knowledge of Kipling is absolute, but can anyone explain this discrepancy?
11.27.2006 2:16pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
Now attend, oh my Best Beloved, and listen! Does your version of Just So Stories have a poem at the end of each story? If not, it is perhaps Defective.
11.27.2006 2:38pm
Huh, I went and dug it up out of the box of books for when my kid is older, and yep, it's in there! Funny I didn't remember that.
11.27.2006 7:02pm
<i>I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.</i>

So what positions do Why, When, How and Where play? (We already know Who's on first and What's on second.) And what happened to "I Don't Know"? Did one of those other four guys take his place at third?
11.27.2006 7:15pm
bearing (mail) (www):
I love the Just So Stories. I just got done reading them aloud to my kids. I'm sure that I enjoyed them the most! The cat one is my favorite, but "the sing song of old man kangaroo" is so fun to read aloud.
11.27.2006 8:31pm
Slightly OT, but people who think of Kipling's stories in terms of juvenile readers will be surprised by some of his later works. "Mary Postgate" is memorably grim.

"The Best Short Stories of Rudyard Kipling," edited by Randall Jarrell, is an excellent anthology with many later stories.
11.27.2006 10:56pm
IMO, for dark Kipling, "Dray Wara Yow Dee" is hard to beat. Although "Friendly Brook" is close, and less colonial.
11.28.2006 9:07am
professays (mail):
It is a boring poem.
11.28.2006 10:30am