His Apologies

(Notes by John McGivering and Danial Hadas)

Publication history

Published in Hearst’s International combined with Cosmopolitan Magazine April 1932, Pearson’s Magazine, May 1932 and collected, with slight amendments, in Inclusive Verse, Definitive Verse, the Sussex Edition Volume 35 page 288, the Burwash Edition, Volume 28, Collected Dog Stories, Thy Servant a Dog and other Dog Stories (in its various versions) and The Works of Rudyard Kipling (Wordsworth Poetry Library.


For titles that include “Dogs” see the Notes on the story “Thy Servant a Dog” and other items in Thy Servant a Dog and Other Dog Stories, and “The Dog Hervey” in A Diversity of Creatures; also KJ 023/72, 032/124, 085/18, 104/17, 156/73, 257/11, 202/04, 024/99, 089/17, 197/17, 066/17, 284/33, 254/31, 215/30, and 220/32. Also “Dogs” and “Horses” in “Themes in Kipling’s Works” on this site.
Andrew Lycett (p. 578) notes a film entitled “Thy Servant a Dog” which was nothing to do with (Kipling’s) story of that name but was loosely based on this poem.

See also Harry Ricketts, p. 368 for Kipling’s dogs and some of the stories in which they figure; also KJ316/51 for a parody, “The Assertion of the Black and White Cat”.

Notes on the text

[Verse 2]

his nose has been rubbed in the dirt: to deter him from making a mess again, an old and discredited method of house-training a puppy or kitten. See “The Great Play Hunt” page 48 lines 7-9.

[Verse 3]

blacking: in this context a tin or bottle containing a mixture for cleaning boots and shoes. There were polishes available commercially but some men made up their own. In “The Last Term” in Stalky & Co. (p. 231 lines 15-21) ‘Stalky’ quotes from Handley Cross by Robert Surtees (chapter XXXII) where champagne and apricot jam were highly recommended.

[Verse 4]

the vet: the veterinary surgeon.

all over the Shop – and into the Shop also  The joke here is in the passage from the idiom “all over the shop”, meaning “all around, all over the place”, to the indication that the dog has been fighting, presumably with another dog or a cat, in an actual shop. [D.H.]

[Verse 6]

thy Commandments  A constant phrase in the Old Testament, in addresses to God.

none other God  From the Ten Commandments:  (Exodus 20.3; Deuteronomy 5.7).

thou shalt have no(ne) other Gods before me

[Verse 7]

no heat in the midday sun: see “Toby Dog” at page 98 line 25 earlier in this volume

wayside grass: dogs can cure minor ailments by eating grass – see “Thy Servant a Dog” on page 28 line 14.

make haste with thy Lightnings  It may be worth spelling out that this poem ends with the dog asking his master to shoot him. ][D.H.]


[J. McG./D.H.]

©John McGivering and Danial Hadas 2008 All rights reserved