"The Legends
of Evil"

(Notes edited
by John McGivering.

the poem
[August 11 2009]


ORG Volume 8 records (listed as Verse No. 504) that Part II ('Twas when the rain fell steady...') was first published as a heading to John Lockwood Kipling's Beast and Man in India, Chapter 4, 'Of Asses'. Part I ('This is the sorrowful story...') was not added until the whole was collected.

The two parts were combined in: See "Collar-Wallah and the Poison Stick". See also ORG Volume 2 page 1012 for a list of other verse headings to Beast and Man in India.

Notes on the text

Part I

[Verse 3]

millet the common name of a number of cereal grasses. This is probably Panicum miliaceum, cultivated in India for food.

[Verse 5]

sickles large curved knives used for harvesting crops by hand.

flails implements consisting of sticks loosely bound together, for separating wheat and other cereals from the stalk by hand, by beating them vigorously.

[Verse 7]

yoke in this context a shaped wooden device to harness two animals, usually oxen, together, to pull a plough, cart, or a heavy gun, as in “Her Majesty’s Servants” (The Jungle Book).

Part II

This is a version of the story of the Flood, told in the book of Genesis, Chapter 8, when Noah built his Ark and the animals went in two and two. Noah is given a powerful Irish accent, perhaps because of the associatrion of the donkey, a familiar beast of burden in Ireland of old, with the Irish. Kipling may also have felt that 'the Devil go with you !' sounded more credible as an Irish oath. Noah's accent here seems even more extreme than that given to Mulvaney in the soldier stories, which has irritated some of his readers.

[Verse 1]

pitched in this context painted with tar (pitch) to render it waterproof.

[Verse 2]

salpeen more commonly spalpeen an Irish dialect word for a good-for-notthing rascal

[Verse 4]

Flusteration a portmanteau word combining 'fluster' and 'botheration'. A state of unsettled agitation.

[Verse 5]

umbrageous a feeling of annoyance. To 'take umbrage' is to take offence.

tenant-right invasion Tenant-right’ is stricty a term in common law laying down the right to compensation which a tenant has, either by custom or by law, against his landlord for improvements at the termination of his tenancy. Here it probably simply means the infringement of Noah's rights on his own craft by the Devil..

[J McG.]

©John McGivering 2009 All rights reserved