Notes by Peter Keating
| notes on the text
It was…a misfortune for Britain that Rome never conquered the whole island. A School History, p. 21.The benefits of Roman civilisation, though, had to be maintained by military power. Once the Roman army withdrew, England was left at the mercy of various marauding tribes. In Fletcher’s words, these included:
Celtic Picts from the North, Celtic Scots from Ireland; [and]…down the northeast wind came terrible “Englishmen,” “Saxons,” from the shores of North Germany and Denmark.’ A School History, p. 24.Closely related to this poem are two short stories "On the Great Wall" and "The Winged Hats" in Puck of Pook’s Hill (1906). Roman power is portrayed as in irreversible decline and under attack by the Picts on land and by the ‘Winged Hats’ from the sea. Neither of these invading powers is capable of overthrowing the Romans. Instead they are constantly involved in irritating skirmishes; attacking and retreating, waiting for the Romans to leave. Of particular relevance to Kipling’s attitude on this topic is the poem called "A Pict Song" which serves as the closing frame to "The Winged Hats."