Senryu on Free Thought



As storied Kipling
Is stricken from pupils’ tales
I feel his burden



Arise Dame Roseanne
From the inquisitor’s stake
Comedy’s phoenix



Young Harry Potter
Burnt by Mountain Dew addicts
Still safe on my shelves


Editor’s Note: See the difference between haiku and senryu here



Laura Kelly is a New Jersey student, aspiring poet, and lifelong opponent of censorship. Her writing appears in the newsletter Libertaria.

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9 Responses

  1. Monika Cooper

    “. . . safe on my shelves.” Well put. I know (and love) the feeling. I don’t have Harry Potter in my library but I just added a volume of Kipling’s verse, selected by T. S. Eliot!

  2. Jeremiah Johnson

    To go off on a bit of a rabbit trail – While I’ve never found Kipling that profound (and I guess he’s not meant to be :), one poem of his that I keep coming back to is “The Conundrum of the Workshops”:


    I feel like that one has a lot of resonance for me as a writer/artist.

    On another note, I Googled Dame Roseanne and still came away confused regarding the “inquisitor’s stake” bit?

      • Monika Cooper

        I enjoyed your article, Dr. Salemi!

        Don’t see how any real woman could fail to take “The Female of the Species is More Deadly Than the Male” as anything other than a magnificent compliment. (But pro-abortion feminists are unnatural women. May the Lord have mercy.)

        In the intro to his Choice of Kipling’s Verse, T. S. Eliot does say that Kipling wasn’t “trying” to write poetry. But argues that he wrote poetry anyway and that it doesn’t make sense to try to draw a line between where his verse becomes poetry and where it doesn’t. Eliot clearly struggles with finding categories in his poetics to talk about what Kipling does and it’s kind of amusing. However his respect for Kipling shines through the somewhat tortured limits of his philosophy. He did a great job choosing poems for the anthology. It was a glorious read. In his essay and in his choice of verse, he succeeds in pointing up the claritas of Kipling’s genius. And it seems to me his honor for Kipling’s work carries into his own poetry. I hadn’t read “The Bell Buoy” before but it was impossible not be reminded of Eliot’s “perpetual angelus,” even though the tone of Kipling’s poem is from the other side of the universe from the Four Quartets.

        Eliot had insight into the quality of Kipling’s love for Sussex: it was always the perspective of a foreign-born outsider, which sees things that sometimes more accustomed eyes can’t.

        The non-iambic meters your article highlights are amazing. Kipling really swings them, as if without effort. Who can do that anymore?

        A Kipling revival may be taking place at certain edges of the literary world. But, as your article points out, for hordes of deplorables who don’t follow fashions he’s been immortal all along.

    • Monika Cooper

      Another Kipling poem with resonance for artists and poets is “When Earth’s Last Picture is Painted.” A beautiful companion to the one you posted here (and thanks for doing that, because it isn’t in the T. S. Eliot’s Choice book).

      I was really irritated by the title of “When ‘Omer Smote ‘Is Bloomin’ Lyre” but the poem is hilarious and also not without meaning for us poets. Lol. I’ve had to get past my prejudice against the replacement of consonants by apostrophes to read and appreciate a lot of Kipling’s poems.

  3. Roy Eugene Peterson

    Thank you for pointing out these are senryu. I would like to add Dr. Seuss to this list among others either being shunned or revised to accommodate the nuts in our society!

    • C.B. Anderson

      If all the nuts in our society, Roy, would suddenly turn into pecans, every one of us would have cause to rejoice.

    • Margaret Coats

      Crispy orange zest crust
      Silkiest syrupy pie
      Love from the oven

  4. Margaret Coats

    Laura, these are skillful nodes of defense, and it is perhaps another advantage of such succinct discourse that some of them may require a little work from readers who don’t happen to be up to date on threats to freedom. I know that the young actor who played Harry Potter has addiction problems with alcohol, and I can guess the connection with Mountain Dew. Still, I wasn’t aware that Mountain Dew addicts were blaming him or the books or movies for their dilemma.


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