First published in Limits and Renewals where it precedes “The Woman in His Life”, collected in the Sussex Edition Volume 11, page 35, and Volume 43, page 400; also, with a slight variation, in Inclusive Verse, Definitive Verse, and The Works of Rudyard Kipling (Wordsworth Poetry Library).
when the spirit than answered your every mode, is gone – wherever it goes – for good”.
Notes on the text
The Golden Floor: an echo of the Harvest Festival hymn and various references to threshing-floors in the Bible including Matthew 3,12. It is to be found as no. 382 in some editions of Hymns Ancient and Modern:
Come ye thankful people come..
All upon the golden floor
Praising thee for evermore.
her Master’s tread The reader who doesn’t yet know this poem is about a dog will at this stage think (as I did) that the Master is Christ, and perhaps Kipling is creating that confusion deliberately. The phrase is also a reference to the painting and recording company ‘His Master’s Voice’. [D.H.]
Full cock: a play upon words – a firearm is ‘cocked’ when ready for firing, an animal ‘cocks its ears’ when listening intently.
Ithuriel’s Spear: the touch of the Angel Ithuriel’s spear exposes the truth.
The Glassy Sea: an echo of Hymn No. 160 in Hymns Ancient and Modern:
Holy, Holy, Holy, LORD GOD Almighty ! …
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea…
Daniel Hadas adds: Behind the hymn text lies Revelation 15.2, “And I saw as it were a Sea of glass, mingled with fire”.
Peter: St. Peter, the chief disciple of Jesus in the New Testament, and traditionally regarded as keeper of the gate of Heaven. See also the notes to “On the Gate” in Debits and Credits page 331 line 17, and the heading to “The Church that was at Antioch” in Limits and Renewals.
Chair: Cathedra Petri (Latin), a chair in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1647-53; but here the chair used by St. Peter in Heaven.
Daniel Hadas notes: Bernini’s sculpture merely encloses a much earlier relic, traditionally though to be St Peter’s actual episcopal throne (see here).
a cur a man again a small joke, since a cur is, in its first sense, a mongrel dog. [D.H.]
The Gate: the Gate of Heaven – see Verse 8 above.
send you well to speed This seems to be linked to archaic phrases like “God send you speed”, i.e. “God grant you success”, and presumably means something like “good luck to you”, although I can’t see quite how Kipling gets there. [D.H.}
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