Thorkild’s Song

(notes edited by Philip Holberton)


This poem was first published in Puck of Pook’s Hill in 1906, in association with the story “The Knights of the Joyous Venture“, and reprinted in numerous subsequent editions of that collection, It was also collected in Songs from Books (1912)  and subsequent verse collections .withe the additional lines below add between the present stanzas four and five:

She wants to be at her own home pier,
To shift her sails and sanding gear.

She wants to be in her winter-shed
To strip herself and go to bed.

[line 2] Stavanger: in south-west Norway.

[line 4] wake the white-ash breeze: i.e. row against white waves, like white ash blossom..

[line 5]  let fall: This is a Viking long boat, largely powered by its oars, but with a single mast, with a single square sail so that it can take advantage of the wind from abaft the beam.  Normally the sail is kept furled on its cross yard, but when the wind is suitable (when they have “waked the white ash breeze”) then the crew would ‘let fall’ the sail, to take advantage of the favourable wind.   [A.J.W.]

[line 16] standing gear: rigging.

[line 22] a three-reef gale: A ‘reef’ is one of the horizontal sections of a sail, usually three or four in number, which can be successively rolled up to diminish the area exposed to the wind.

[line 24]  close-cropped:  Perhaps Kipling is using this as a synonym for ‘close-hauled‘, with the sail hauled up so that the ship can sail close to the wind ? [D.H.]



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