| The Light that Failed
Notes on the text
by Geoffrey Annis
These notes are based on those prepared for Vol. V of the ORG, published in 1970. They have been augmented and edited by Geoffrey Annis in 2006. The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan Uniform Edition of The Light that Failed, first published in 1899 and frequently reprinted since.
While the men that walk besideThe verses, as do Chapters II and XV, illustrate Kipling’s honesty in presenting the reality of the endurance and suffering of battle conditions.
Dusty, silent, heavy-eyed,
Cannot tell why we or they
March or suffer day by day.
'E cut our sentries up at SuakinThe Arab fighters' skill was in sending small bodies of men to spear sentries and cause maximum confusion. Each man usually carried three spears. Such attacks were usually combined with long-range rifle fire from cover. (see also the note to page 18, line 21)
An' 'e played the cat an' banjo with our forces,
So 'ere's to you Fuzzy Wuzzy, at your 'ome in the Soudan
You're a pore benighted 'eathen but a first-class fightin' man"
('Suakin' is spelt 'Suakim' in some editions)