Rudyard Kipling and the media: ‘Tell it to the public press / And we will do the rest’

A recently discovered poem by Rudyard Kipling, written in 1899, fits the current Leveson/press regulation theme quite neatly – it voices the poet’s frustrations with media questions, opening “Why don’t you write a play – / Why don’t you cut your hair?“. It’s called ‘The Press'; the final two verses echo 21st century concerns about privacy intrusion and financial transactions around private lives:

Do you hope to enter
Fame’s immortal dome?
Do you put the washing out
Or have it done at home?
Have you any morals?
Does your genius burn?
Was you wife a what’s its name?
How much did she earn?

Had your friend a secret
Sorrow, shame or vice –
Have you promised not to tell
What’s your lowest price?
All the housemaid fancied
All the butler guessed
Tell it to the public press
And we will do the rest.

The full poem can be read on Guardian.co.uk…

(From The Cambridge Edition of the Poems of Rudyard Kipling)

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