“They burnt a corpse”

(notes edited by John McGivering)


Published in Plain Tales from the Hills as a heading to “In Error”. Collected as a ‘Chapter Heading’ in Songs from Books (1912) and subsequent collections. As in many of Kipling’s chapter headings the lines are credited to a (probably) invented title, “Salsette Boat Song”.”

Notes on the text

beat tacking against the wind – a zig-zag course in the general direction one wants to travel.

Salsette An island north of Bombay. A light on the beach, however, may be more of a danger to the navigator than assistance; wreckers used to display a light when a vessel was seen in the offing, especially on a stormy night, so that she might steer for what was believed to be the harbour entrance, and run ashore to have the cargo looted and the survivors murdered.


©John McGivering 2020 All rights reserved