An Astrologer’s Song

(notes by George Engle)


Published in Rewards and Fairies (1910) with “A Doctor of Medicine”.

A musical rendition by John Roberts and Tony Barrand can be found  here

The poem

This poem is closely linked to the story that follows it in Rewards and Fairies, “A Doctor of Medicine” and reflects the beliefs of Nicholas Culpeper. See George Engel’s notes above. It is listed in ORG as Verse 945. See also Kipling’s lecture in November 1928 to the Royal Society of Medicine on “Healing by the Stars”.

Notes on the Text

[Verse 1]

What chariots, what horses: probably an echo of 2 Kings 2,12: ‘The chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.’

Daniel Hadas adds:  see also Exodus, 14.24-25:

And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians.

the Stars in their courses/ Do fight on our side: See Judges 5, 20:

The stars in their courses fought against Sisera.

[Verse 5]

ravin:   This is probably a form of the Scots verb rife, with the sense “tear up, smash”. {D.H.]


the Sign: the Sign of the Zodiac. The Sun, Moon, and the planets appear to move through twelve constellations or signs in the course of a year, such as Leo, Cancer, or Capricorn. In astrology, the influence of a planet was believed to vary according to which Sign it was in.

[Verse 7]

All things have their season:   See Ecclesiastes 3.1:  [D.H.]

To everything there is a season.



©George Engle 2020 All rights reserved