Yet at the last

(notes edited by Geoffrey Annis)


This is the heading to the fourteenth chapter of The Light that Failed.

The poem

This verse seems appropriate both as an action narrative, and an indirect ‘coded’ narrative for Dick’s final hours. The last line links with Dick’s “Oh God has been most good to me” (Page 287 line 27).

Notes on the text

Kafirs This refers to a native of Kafiristan, an area of Afghanistan south of the Hindu Kush. The word means “Land of the Kafir” in Persian. It is also the scene of the adventures of Dravot and Carnehan in The Man Who Would be King”.

reive The name given to Northumbrian and Scottish clans who, from the 14th century fought for 400 years an endless series of raids and reprisals on each others territories, across the border between England and Scotland. Known as ‘Border Reivers’, they were tough and predatory, and lived by their own laws. The word is generally used to describe raiders, outcasts or spoilers.

‘You might as well call a young wolf a lion and expect him to take the compliment in exchange for a shin-bone. Dick’s soul is in the bank. He’s working for cash’.

Kizilbashi  An obscure attribution by Kipling as the ‘source’ of these lines which need not be taken too seriously.  A Kisibashi was a Turkish nickname meaning ‘Redheads  given to Shiite emigrants from Iran (then Persia) There are also ‘Kizilbashi’ in Afghanistan. The name comes from the red caps worn by Shiites in Iran.


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