that he Took"
by John McGivering)
notes on the text
Put forth to watch, unschooled, alone
'Twixt hostile earth and sky;
The mottled lizard 'neath the stone
Is wiser here than I
What stir across the haze of heat?
What omen down the wind?
The buck that break before my feet—
They know, but I am blind.
Philip Holberton writes: These two verses express the loneliness of a soldier fresh from England on guard in a completely strange land. Even when he sees something – The buck that break before my feet – he does not know what it means. See “Two Kopjes”, where Only some buck on the move are a sign, not understood by the Kensington draper, of the presence of Boers..
The verses are unfair to the (unnamed) Captain in the story, who is beginning to like the Karroo and has learnt enough to spot the Boer ambush. But his report is not believed by the Colonel, so there will be another British defeat. [P.H.]