The Supplication of the Black Aberdeen

(notes by Daniel Hadas)


First published in January 1928, in the Strand Magazine and Cosmopolitan (New York)  The poem later appeared in various anthologies, including Collected Dog Stories (also illustrated by Stampa).

Also collected in Inclusive  Verse (1933),  Definitive Verse (1940) and the Sussex and Burwash editions.

Carrie Kipling’s diary for August 14th 1927 notes: ‘‘The Dog’s Prayer (finished 24 Aug)”.

Kipling’s dog stories and poems include:

Notes on the Text

[Stanza 1]

whither shall I go?  Biblical language. See Genesis 37.30; 1 Samuel 2.1; and especially Psalm 139.7:

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?”.

The plea not to “forsake me” is also one the psalmist makes repeatedly to God: Psalms 27.9, 10; 38.21; 71.9,18; 119.8.

[Stanza 2]

my refuge  frequently said of God in Biblical prayers, e.g. Psalms 57.1; 62.7; 91.2, 9; 94.22; 142.5.

unclean and wicked”] For this combination in the Bible, see Ecclesiastes 9.2: “All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean

[Stanza 5]

deny me   The words used by Christ to St Peter (Matthew 26;34):

Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice

so also Mark 14.30; Luke 22.61

Of course, all this Biblical language plays to the poem’s idea that his master is a god to the dog.



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