“Pit where the buffalo cools his hide”

(notes by Philip Holberton)


Publication

Published as a heading to “Cupid’s Arrows” in Plain Tales from the Hills Collected in Inclusive Verse p. 498 with ‘Bund’ for ‘dam’ in line 4, and similarly in Definitive Verse p. 506. The first six lines list the various hazards to be found when riding over rough ground and show the leading riders warning those following that there is danger ahead.

Notes on the Text

Pull to the off means to steer to the right. See KJ 122, p. 10.

earth-rat perhaps a mole (familty Talpidae) the small black burrowing creature whose excavations are dangerous for horses and riders. [suggestions from readers will be appreciated; Ed.]

This story is based on an incident in Daniel Deronda by George Eliot (1876). For similar advice on the hazards of pig-sticking, see “The Boar of the Year”.

In the article mentioned above (KJ 122 p.10) A.E. Purefoy points out that this verse doesn’t head a riding story; it comes at the start of “Cupid’s Arrows,” where almost the only reference to horses is that they used to shy when Barr-Saggott smiled. It is the author’s tactful way of saying: Watch your step when dealing with a woman.

[P.H.]

©JPhilip Holberton 2020 All rights reserved