“This I saw when the rites were done”

(notes by Sharad Keskar and Philip Holberton)

Publication

These five lines are the heading to Chapter XII of “The Naulahka” . They were first collected in Songs from Books (1912), as a Chaper Heading. See also the heading to Chapter XIX.

 

The poem

The verse fits well with Tarvin’s horror of the chuckling Cow’s Mouth and the tank below, where ‘the sacred crocodile was waiting for his morning meal.’

Kipling had had a similarly horror-stricken experience when visiting Chitor in January 1888 on his journey through Rajasthan. (See “Letters of Marque XI”..)

 

[S.K./P.H.]

©Sharad Keskar and Philip Holberton 2020 All rights reserved