Law of the jungle

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The Law for the Wolves

"NOW this is the law of the jungle, as old and as true as the sky,
And the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die.

As the creeper that girdles the tree trunk, the law runneth forward and back;
For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.

Wash daily from nose tip to tail tip; drink deeply, but never too deep;
And remember the night is for hunting and forget not the day is for sleep.
The jackal may follow the tiger, but, cub, when thy whiskers are grown,
Remember the wolf is a hunter—go forth and get food of thy own.

Keep peace with the lords of the jungle, the tiger, the panther, the bear;
And trouble not Hathi the Silent, and mock not the boar in his lair.
When pack meets with pack in the jungle, and neither will go from the trail,
Lie down till the leaders have spoken; it may be fair words shall prevail.
When ye fight with a wolf of the pack ye must fight him alone and afar,
Lest others take part in the quarrel and the pack is diminished by war.

—Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936)

"The law of the jungle" is an expression that means "every man for himself", "anything goes", "survival of the strongest", "survival of the fittest", "kill or be killed", "dog eat dog" and "eat or be eaten". The Oxford English Dictionary defines the Law of the Jungle as "the code of survival in jungle life, now usually with reference to the superiority of brute force or self-interest in the struggle for survival."[1] It is also known as jungle law or frontier justice.

The phrase was used in a poem by Rudyard Kipling to describe the obligations and behaviour of a wolf in a pack. However, this use of the term has been overtaken in popularity by the other interpretations above.[citation needed]

T. S. Eliot included Kipling's poem in his 1941 collection A Choice of Kipling's Verse.

The Jungle Book[edit]

In the novel The Jungle Book,[2] Rudyard Kipling uses the term to describe an actual set of legal codes used by wolves and other animals in the jungles of India. In Chapter Two of The Second Jungle Book,[3] Rudyard Kipling provides a poem, featuring the Law of the Jungle as known to the wolves, and as taught to their offspring.

In the 2016 Disney adaptation of the novel, the wolves often recite a poem referred as the "law of the jungle" and when Baloo asks Mowgli if he ever heard a song and he begins to recite this anthem, the bear responds by telling him that it is not a song, but a propaganda text.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Law of the Jungle." Oxford English Dictionary Online. Oxford University Press. n.d. Web. 10 May 2013.
  2. ^ Kipling, Rudyard. The Jungle Book. New York: Sterling Publishing, 2007.
  3. ^ Kipling, Rudyard. The Second Jungle Book. Middlesex: The Echo Library, 2007.

External links[edit]