"The Ladies"

1890-95

(notes by John McGivering)

the poem


[February 6th 2017]

Publication

The last verse was used as the heading to "The Courting of Dinah Shadd" in Macmillan's Magazine on March 1st 1890, and in the same month in Harper's Weekly and in subsequent editions of Plain Tales from the Hills. It is listed as No. 439 in ORG.

The complete poem is collected in
  • The Seven Seas (1896)
  • Inclusive Verse (1919)
  • Definitive Verse (1940)
  • Sussex Edition Vol. 33 p. 148
  • Burwash Edition Vol. 26
  • Wordsworth Edition Poems of Rudyard Kipling (2001)
  • Cambridge Edition (2013 Ed. Pinney) p. 417
The poem

A soldier looks back on the women whose company he has enjoyed over the years, recalling four in particular. Unlike Larry Tighe in "Love o' Women" (Many Inventions) he does not appear to have suffered any ill-effects from these liaisons. After reminiscing a little, he comes to the conclusion. that women, whatever their social class, are much the same: 'The Colonel's Lady an' Judy O'Grady are sisters under their skins.' As Charles Allen (p. 308) points out
This was not at all a common sentiment in the drawing-rooms of Chelsea and Kensington in 1890.
See also "Georgie Porgie", "Without Benefit of Clergy" (both collected in Life's Handicap), "Beyond the Pale" (collected in Plain Tales from the Hills) and "Mandalay". See also Brian Mattingly's list of musical settings of Kiipling's verse.


Notes on the Text




[Verse 1]

I've rogued and I've ranged he has been rather unprincipled - rogued - and enjoyed sexual relations with many women - ranged.

'arf-caste half-caste, a person of mixed race.

Prome now Pyay in Burma (now Myanmar.).

jemadar-sais a head-groom

[Verse 2]

Yellow and Brown in this context Asiatic and Indian girls.

[Verse 3]

'Oogli Hooghly district is one of the districts of the state of West Bengal in India. The spelling varies. The Hooghly River is a tributary of the great River Ganges in West Bengal,

Aggie de Castrer de Castro: a typical name from a mixed race community.

[Verse 4]

Burma now Myanmar

Bazar usually Bazaar - in this context a market in the East. In the United Kingdom usually an exhibition of articles for sale to raise funds for a charity.

tiddy perhaps 'Tiddley', slang for neat or smart.

'eathen Heathen, unbeliever. A member of a religion other than that of the speaker.

on the square an echo of Freemasonry meaning 'honestly'.

Mhow now officially known as Dr Ambedkar Nagar, is a cantonment in the Indore District in Madhya Pradesh state, India. It is located 14 miles (23 km.) south of Indore.

[Verse 5]

Neemuch a town in Malawa District

nigger an unpleasant word for a black or coloured person, not used today.

Mhow see Verse 4 above.

bolee slang - the language of a tribe or some organisation.

[Verse 6]

Meerut a city of Uttar Pradesh, India


[J McG]

ŠJohn McGivering 2017 All rights reserved