The Moon of Other Days

(notes edited by John McGivering)

Publication history

This poem (see ORG vol.V.I. page 5068, verse No. 100) was first published in the Pioneer on 16 December 1884, under the pseudonym ‘Dyspeptic’. It was included in the first edition of Departmental Dittiea in 1886.

It is collected in:

  • Later editions of Departmental Ditties and Other Verses
  • Inclusive Verse (1919)
  • Definitive Verse (1940)
  • Sussex Edition Volume 32, p. 134
  • Burwash Edition, Volume 25
  • The Works of Rudyard Kipling, Wordsworth Poetry Library

See David Richards (p. 12) for further details of publication.


This nostalgic little piece, reminiscent of “Christmas in India” shows the poet looking at the moon in the uncomfortable and unhealthy climate of the Plains. Comparing India unfavourably with England, he is consoled by the thought that the moon shines more happily on his sweetheart in London.
Charles Allen uses the last four lines of Verse 3 as the heading for Chapter 6 “The Seething City” of his Kipling Sahib, and believes the poem was inspired by an outbreak of typhoid in Lahore reported in Something of Myself, p. 42. Allen continues (p.176.):

“The Moon of Other Days” and “To the Unknown Goddess” were published pseudonymously, and to his great joy he received in payment one gold mohur a Mughal coin then worth about sixteen rupees, and a note from George Allen offering to publish in the Pioneer ‘anything I might choose to send’.

George Allen, the proprietor of the Pioneer and the Civil and Military Gazette, was the great-grandfather of the author of Kipling Sahib. See also Something of Myself p. 40, line 24, and Andrew Lycett, p. 78)

Other light verse of this period includes:


Notes on the Text

[Verse 1]

veranda: an open pillared gallery around a house or bungalow. – see Hobson-Jobson p. 964.

bats: arboreal gliding mammals. They are nocturnal, emerging at sunset.

sere: dry, withered.

ferash: a species of date tree.

Diana: goddess of the moon, hunting and woodlands.

[Verse 2]

shade: a disembodied spirit or image.

Kensington: now the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, a mainly residential area of west London – frequented by Kipling and his family and a haunt of his childhood. See our Notes on “Mary Kingsley”.

Putney: on the River Thames in southwest London, famous as the start of the annual Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge.

Hammersmith: also on the Boat Race course just downstream from Putney and the scene of the final scene of “Brugglesmith” (Brook Green Hammersmith) in Many Inventions.

These sentiments echo Gilbert and Sullivan’s light opera “Trial By Jury” (1875) which Kipling may have seen in England or India. The
Counsel for the Plaintiff sings of two rather less salubrious districts of London:

Camberwell became a bower,
Peckham an Arcadian Vale.

London was and is very much a city of districts—almost like separate villages—some prestigious, some less so, each with its own marked character. Anyone who knew London well would quickly recognise the social standing and character of a particular district.

Kipling did not know London very well, though he was reasonably familiar with Kensington. Before attending United Services College he had stayed with his mother and sister for a few weeks at a lodging house in Brompton Road (See Something of Myself p.18). He had also spent time with the ‘three dear ladies’ in Warwick Gardens in Kensington. During his school holidays, he had visited The Grange, the house of his much-loved Aunt ‘Georgie’ Burne-Jones, also in that district. Putney and even Hammersmith and the Wandle (verse 3) may, however, have been foreign territory.

[Verse 3]

Wandle: a river running through southwest London which passes through Croydon, Sutton, Merton, and Wandsworth where it meets the Thames.

Sutlej:  The spelling varies. The Sutlej is the longest of the five rivers that flow through the Punjab in northern India and Pakistan.

gorse: furze or whin (Ulex) a spiny evergreen shrub, native to Western Europe. It grew vigo0rously along the cliffs near United Services College. See “In Ambush” in Stalky & Co.

[Verse 4]

Hecate: a Graeco-Roman goddess associated with magic and crossroads.

pie-dog: ownerless half-wild mongrel dogs common in many villages in Asia. They can be dangerous to strangers and strange dogs. See “Garm, a Hostage” in Actions and Reactions.

typhoid: a dangerous and at that time often fatal fever transmitted by food or water contaminated with the faeces of an infected person. See “Kipling and Medicine” by Dr Gillian Sheehan. See also Kipling’s verse “Municipal”.

tank: a reservoir or artificial lake. See Hobson-Jobson p. 898. The stagnant water would breed a multitude of diseases.

bazaar: a native market


[J McG.]

©John McGivering 2010 All rights reserved