MacDonough’s Song

(notes edited by John McGivering)


First printed in full following “As Easy as A. B. C.” in A Diversity of Creatures (1917); the last four lines are included in the text of the story in the magazine versions, and in A Diversity of Creatures at page 11.

It is collected in Inclusive Verse, Definitive Verse, The Works of Rudyard Kipling (Wordsworth Poetry Library), A Choice of Kipling’s Verse (Ed. T.S.Eliot), the Sussex Edition Volume 9 page 43, and Volume 34 page 307, the Burwash Edition Volumes 9 and 27, and the Cambridge Edition of 2013.

See also Kipling’s “The Holy War”

Notes on the Text

[Title] We have been unable to find any explanation for this particular name for a poem which attacks the power of the crowd, associated in the story with the statue of a ‘negro’ lynched and in flames, and would appreciate information. (The ORG Editors suggest that the statue portrays a lynching, and Angus Wilson in a very penetrating examination (page 248) agrees.)

[Verse 1] schoolmen in this context usually taken to be the teachers of religion in medieval universities.

Holy State … Holy War refers to the various wars, both civil and international, over the years between people of different religions or churches and sects within them.

[Verse 3] Saying – after – me an echo of “The Order for Morning Prayer” and “… Evening Prayer” in the Church of England, where the Priest leads the congregation in the General Confession.


©John McGivering 2020 All rights reserved