Gow’s Watch

 Notes on the text


ACT II Scene 2

Notes by Daniel Hadas

Following page numbers in the London edition of Songs from Books, Macmillan 2013


[Page 206 line 7]  tirings  morsels of food given to a hawk to tear in order to exercise it. One of numerous references to falconry in this scene.

[Page 206 line 7] bating  means beating down or away.. This bating all parable signifies putting an end to the falconry metaphor.

[[Page 208 line 6]  A’ God’s name  An a rchaic alternative to “in God’s name”.

[Page 208 line 8]  what’s caught in Italy   The point of this and the preceding line seems to be that that king had best send the young man to an early death, or perhaps just to be permanently disabled.

[Page 209 line 9]  by the horns of ninefold-cuckolded Jupiter   Jupiter can be associated with horns in his form as Zeus Ammon, but they are not the cuckold’s horns. Jupiter is the seducer, not the cuckold in myths (most notably he seduces Amphitryo’s wife, Alcmene, to beget Hercules). So Gow’s oath has a tone both blasphemous and jocular, as the King’s response (“that’s a rare oath”) suggests.

[Page 211 line 3]  coil  A noisy disturbance.

[Page 212 line 14] still-room  Originally a room in which a still was kept for distilling perfumes and cordials. Later a room in which preserved, cakes, liqueurs etc. were stored. It is hard to say which sense is meant, particularly because, according to OED, the word is attested in neither sense until the early 18th century, and so is anachronistic for the period of English Kipling is here pastiching.

[Page 213 line 1]  coney-catch  A coney was a rabbit; caoey-catch came to mean to swindle, cheat; to trick, dupe, deceive. [OED].. 

I think Kipling means that fortune “gets bored of the easy targets that are kings on their thrones (or perhaps “kings on their thrones of ease”), and so steals away from feasts that are as rare as such thrones, in order to secretly catch clowns in hedgerows”.

In plainer English: bad fortune gets bored of bringing down the high and mighty, and goes after the lowly, to bring them down too, from whatever little felicity they enjoy. The idea of the lowly being found in hedgerows comes from Luke 14.23: Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

[Page 213 line 5] gerb  A kind of firework.


ACT IV Scene 4

Notes by Lisa Lewis

Following page number in The Macmillan Uniform Edition Debits and Credit,s,  “The Prophet and the Country”)


[Page 201, line 8] battalia an army in order of battle.

Daniel Hadas adds:  I don’t know why Kipling is treating battalia as a plural. OED gives no examples of that, although it does give “battalio” as an alternative singular. Some thought of the Latin neuter plural in -A (as in “agenda”, “data”, etc.) is probably in Kipling’s mind.[D.H.]

[Page 201 line 9]  torqued   Daniel Hadas notes:  a torque was an ornamental necklace or bracelet made ow twisted preious metal, worn especially by the encient Celtic peoples of Gaul and the British Isles. The Latin “torquis” is recorded as part of military attire.   [D.H.

[Page 201, line 11] bombards early cannon.

[Page 201, line 17] Adullamites In I Sam., 22,1-2, King David takes refuge in “the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his house heard it, they went down thither to him. And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him.”

lPage 202 line 14[  I’m no disposed murderer   This is hrd to square with Gow’s murder of the gardener in Act II, scene, but Kipling seems to have made Gow rather more admirable in the two next sections. [D.H.]


ACT V Scene 3

Notes by Lisa Lewis

Following page number in The Macmillan Uniform Edition Debits and Credit,s,  “A Madonna of the trenches””


[Page 263, line 4] Ravelin A type of fortification, in which two embankments are raised inside the defensive ditch or scarp.

[Page 264, line 1] Pass at Bargi See “Act IV, Scene 4.”   Daniel Hadas notes:  This is not, as far as I can tell, a real place name, but Kipling’s choice of the word was probably influenced by its being the name of a certain armed faction in Indian history. [D.H.]

[Page 266 line 2]  Thou that wast … now at end    Daniel Hadas comments: I take this to mean roughly: “You who were to be united with me now that these years of strife are over”.  [D.H.]

[Page 265, line 26] Spirit of the Lady Frances In “A Madonna of the Trenches”, the ghost of Bella Armine appears to the sergeant who loved her and to her nephew Clem, who tells the story.

[Page 266 line 1]   visible and invisible   my one God   Echoing the opening of the Nicene creed: [D.H.]

“”I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible“.

[Page 267 line 10]  waiting you  Waiting upon you, serving you.  Frances was a lady-in-waiting of the princess, to whom the latter had paid no attention.  [D.H.]

[Page 267, lines 22-3] I have seen love at last … after? In “A Madonna of the Trenches,” young Clem has the same reaction.