Hunting Song of the Seeonee Pack

(notes by John McGivering and John Radcliffe)


This poem, which is listed in ORG as No 615, was first published with the story “Mowgli’s Brothers” in St. Nicholas Magazine on January 1st, 1894.

Collected in:

  • The Jungle Book (1894)
  • Inclusive Verse (1919)
  • Definitive Verse (1940)
  • The Sussex Edition vols xii and xxxiv (1940)
  • The Burwash Edition vols xi and xxvii (1941)
  • Cambridge Edition (2013) Ed. Thomas Pinney, p. 851.

Rendition of Percy Grainger’s setting is to be found here.

The poem

The wolf pack have sent out scouts to find game. They see does drinking at the pond, and fleeing away. Then they find their true quarry, a big sambhur, and steal back to put the pack on its trail. Giving tongue, like hounds, they are after it.

There are five settings of this poem in Musical settings of Kipling’s verse by Brian Mattinson.


In the Mowgli stories, the wolf pack is a disciplined body, following a leader, hunting and fighting like soldiers, keeping agreed rules for survival. (See “The Law of the Jungle”). Like a military force, they send out silent scouts ahead of the main body, to make sure they are hunting a worthy quarry. When they do, they give chase as one.


Notes on the Text

[Verse 1]

sambhur: (Rusa unicolor) a large deer native to India and South-East Asia.

belled: roared. Stags utter deep resonant roaring sounds in the mating season to scare off rivals.

doe: the female deer

sup: to take food or drink in small quantities but here meaning just to eat and drink.

scouting: sending small parties ahead of the main body of soldiers to find and report the movements of the enemy, here a single wolf on the lookout for food alerts the rest of the pack when he has found.

[Verse 2]

stole: in this context moved very quietly.

[Verse 3]

give tongue: a phrase from the hunting-field, the hounds make a characteristic sound when they are on the scent of their prey.

hark: listen.

©John McGivering and John Radcliffe 2018 All rights reserved