The Power of the Dog

(notes edited by John McGivering)


First published in Actions and Reactions where it follows “Garm—a Hostage”, also collected with slight variations in Songs from Books (1912), Inclusive Verse (1919), Definitive Verse (1940), the Sussex and Burwash Editions. (ORG, Verse, Volume 1, p 5425, with the serial number 931).

It is also collected in The Works of Rudyard Kipling (The Wordsworth Poetry Library, 1994) and with George Orwell’s Review of T.S. Eliot’s A Choice of Kipling’s Verse (1941 and various later editions).


These charming verses echo Kipling’s love of dogs and lament their short lives as compared with their owners, echoing the theme of the story and the inevitable tragedy when a loved and loving pet dies or has to be put down.

See Marghanita Laski (pp. 126 ff.) for an examination of these verses and comments on “Garm—a Hostage”.

Notes on the Text


[Verse 3] lethal chambers: apparatus used by veterinary surgeons for the painless killing of animals.

[Verse 5] Christian clay: an echo of Job 33,6 in the Old Testament and other Biblical and poetic references: ‘I also am formed out of the clay’.

compound interest: interest on a loan calculated by increasing the capital by the amount of interest each time the interest becomes due, so the amount payable increases annually.

Heaven: see the verses “Dinah in Heaven.”


©John McGivering 2020 All rights reserved