Notes on the text
by Peter Keating
‘They are only the fringe of the trouble. It began before your time or mine. Rome has forsaken her Gods, and must be punished...’ Puck of Pook’s Hill, p. 153.C.E.Carrington’s argument that these words were generally interpreted as applying to Edwardian England as well as to Rome (‘Pedantry about Parnesius,’ KJ 166, June 1968, p. 8) is also true of ‘The Pirates in England.’
They fought the dogs and killed the cats,[lines 13-14] They wiped out…strength and worth. The Picts destroy whatever they can get their hands on but their power is feeble compared with the far stronger and more imaginative invaders who are being swept in on the ‘North-East gales’ [line 17].
And bit the babies in the cradles.. (lines 11-12)
...an officer, called the “Count of the Saxon Shore,” was created to watch against the pirates. The cities of Britain, hitherto undefended by fortifications, hastily began to run up walls for themselves. One day even these walls were in vain. A School History, p. 22.The fact that the reference here is to the absence of a Count of the Saxon Shore is a further indication that Kipling has moved on to the later ‘Viking’ invasions.