My Boy Jack

by Rudyard Kipling likely in 1916

“Have you news of my boy Jack?”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind—
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!

It is commonly thought that "Jack" refers to John Kipling, Rudyard's son that died in in the war in 1915. But the poem was first published untitled and as a response to government requests that Kipling boost morale after the sea battle of Jutland. Clearly the sea is prominent in the poem. He may have been writing thinking about the general loss of life in the battle and not specifically with respect to Jack his son.