My Whit’s End Book Club–Out of Africa–The Grave in the Hills

“Hugh Martin. . .from there he drove out to the farm every day and dined with me, sitting–towards the end, when I was selling my furniture,–on one packing-case and dining from another.  We sat there late into the night.”

“It was full moon while I was down at Takaunga, and the beauty of the radiant, still nights was so perfect that the heart bent under ti.  You slept with the doors open to the silver Sea; the playing warm breeze in a low whisper swept in a little loose sand, on to the stone floor.  One night a row of Arab dhows came along, close to the coast, running noiselessly before the monsoon, a file of brown shadow-sails under the moon.”–to sleep here would be the sleep of dreams.

“The grave was a thousand feet higher up than my house, the air was different here, as clear as a glass of water; light sweet winds lifted your hair when you took off your hat; over the peaks of the hills, the clouds came wandering from the East, drew their live shadow over the wide undulating land, and were dissolved and disappeared over the Rift Valley.”–I want to go there and breathe that air.

p. 353:  Sirunga – I am not sure what this word means.  I did find a safari company called Sirunga Safaris.  I am guessing that it is a word for Kenya?  Does anybody else know?

p. 354:  “You must turn your mournful ditty, To a merry measure, I will never come for pity, I will come for pleasure.” – “Song” by Percy Bysshe Shelly (1772-1822).  From

Rarely, rarely
comest thou,
Spirit of Delight!
Wherefore hast thou
left me now
Many a day and night?
Many a weary night and day
‘Tis since
thou artfled away.How shall ever one like
Win thee back again?
With the joyous and the free
Thou wilt scoff at
Spirit false! thou hast forgot
All but those who need thee not.As a lizard with the shade
Of a trembling leaf,
Thou with
sorrow art dismayed;
Even the sighs of grief
Reproach thee, that thou art
not near,
And reproach thou wilt not her.Let me set my mournful
To a merry measure;–
Thou wilt never come for pity,
Thou wilt
come for pleasure;
Pity then will cut away
Those cruel wings, and thou
wilt stay.I love all that thou lovest,
Spirit of Delight!
fresh Earth in new leaves dressed,
And the starry night;
Autumn evening,
and the morn
When the golden mists are born.I love snow and all the
Of the radiant frost;
I love waves, and winds, and
Everything almost
Which is Nature’s, and may be
Untainted by
man’s misery.I love tranquil solitude,
And such society
As is
quiet, wise, and good;
Between thee and me
What difference? but thou dost
The things I seek, not love them less.I love Love–though he
has wings,
And like light can flee,
But above all other things,
I love thee–
Thou art love and life! O come!
Make once more my heart thy

p.  354:  disapprobation – the act of dissaproving; condemnation.

p.355:  Sinbad the Sailor – from Wikipedia.  Sinbad the Sailor (also spelled Sindbad; Arabic السندباد البحري as-Sindibād al-Baḥri; Persian سندباد Sændbād) is a fictional sailor from Basrah, living during the Abbasid Caliphate – the hero of a story-cycle of Middle Eastern origin. During his voyages throughout the seas east of Africa and south of Asia, he has fantastic adventures going to magical places, meeting monsters, and encountering supernatural phenomena.

p. 356:  Takaunga Creek – photo from by Harald Kerr

p. 357:  “I saw grey geese flying over the flatlands, Wild geese vibrant in the high air–Unswerving from horizon to horizon, With their soul stiffened out in their throats. . .” – The citation to this poem can be found at this site.

p. 359:  “Abyssinian breeding-mares” – There is some excellent information at this site.

p. 359:  “got the V.C. in the Amiens push. . .” – Visit this site to learn more about the Amiens push.

p. 361:  Lady McMillan – This is an excellent site.

p. 362:  Tom Black –

From Wikipedia.

Tom Campbell Black, (December 1899, Brighton, England – 19 September 1936, Liverpool, England) was a famous English aviator.

He was the son of Alice Jean McCullough and Hugh Milner Black. He became a world famous aviator when he and C. W. A. Scott won the London to Melbourne Centenary Air Race in 1934.

Tom Campbell Black attended Brighton College and the records for the period summer 1915 to summer 1917 indicate that he entered Hampden House, May 1915, was appointed House Prefect, January 1917 and played Second XI Football, 1915 to 1916 and 1916 to 1917. Campbell Black attended Army Class II and entered the RN College at Greenwich and attained a commission in the R.N.A.S. (Naval Air Service). He served first as a pilot in the Naval Air Service and later in the RAF during the Great War, rising to the rank of Captain. Arriving in Africa as a soldier settler in 1922, he joined his brother, Frank Milner Black, who had been stationed as a soldier in Kenya and decommissioned in 1920.[1] Black family history has it that Tom and his brother managed a coffee plantation in British East Africa, in the 1920s. Their farm was between the towns of Rongai and Eldama Ravine, in the Rift Valley, about 110 miles (180 km) northwest of Nairobi. Tom was a noted horseman who was an award-winning show jumper, winning a competition in 1925. He later bred and raised race horses, which remained a passion of his throughout his life.

p. 363:  Gustav Mohr – I couldn’t find any interesting tidbits on him.

p. 363:  Hugh Martin – Again.  Nothing of note.

p. 364:  mackintosh – from Wikipedia.

The Mackintosh or Macintosh (abbreviated as mac or mack) is a form of waterproof raincoat, first sold in 1824, made out of rubberised fabric. The Mackintosh is named after its Scottish inventor Charles Macintosh, though a letter k is added by many writers (this variant spelling “Mackintosh” is now standard).

Although the Mackintosh style of coat has become generic, a genuine Mackintosh coat should be made from rubberised or rubber laminated material.

File:Mackintosh shop - Burlington Arcade.jpg

p. 365:  “. . .cut the grass with pangas. . .” – a machete

p. 367:  “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills. . .” – Psalm 121:1

p. 368:  “. . .and he danced the sword-dance” –

p. 370:  “Though in death fire be mixed with my dust yet care I not, For with me now all is well” –

p. 370:  Lord Winchilsea – Visit this site to see Kirby Hall.  The family estate of Lord Wichilsea and his brother Deny’s Finch Hatton.

p. 370:  “The Ancient Mariner” – from Wikipedia.  The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (originally The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere) is the longest major poem by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, written in 1797–98 and was published in 1798 in the first edition of Lyrical Ballads. Modern editions use a later revised version printed in 1817 that featured a gloss. Along with other poems in Lyrical Ballads, it was a signal shift to modern poetry and the beginning of British.  Romantic literature.

To read the entire poem click on the blue link.

p. 370:  “. . .built a stone bridge over a small stream between two fields at Eton.” – You can see a picture of this bridge here.

p. 371:  “And renowned be thy grave.” –

106.  Fidele’s Dirge
William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

FEAR no more the heat o’ the sun
    Nor the furious winter’s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
    Home art gone and ta’en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,         5
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.
Fear no more the frown o’ the great,
    Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke;
Care no more to clothe and eat;
    To thee the reed is as the oak:         10
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.
Fear no more the lightning-flash
    Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;         15
    Thou hast finish’d joy and moan:
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.
No exorciser harm thee!
    Nor no witchcraft charm thee!         20
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
    Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renowned be thy grave!

p. 371:  Lord Nelson – from Wikipedia.  Here’s the site.,_1st_Viscount_Nelson

Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté, KB (29 September 1758–21 October 1805) was an English flag officer famous for his service in the Royal Navy, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars. He was noted for his inspirational leadership and superb grasp of strategy and unconventional tactics, which resulted in a number of decisive naval victories. He was wounded several times in combat, losing one arm and the sight in one eye. Of his several victories, the best known and notable was the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, at the end of which he was shot and killed.


p. 371:  Trafalgar Square – from Wikipedia.

Trafalgar Square is a public space and tourist attraction in central London, England, United Kingdom. At its centre is Nelson’s Column, which is guarded by four lion statues at its base. There are a number of statues and sculptures in the square, with one plinth displaying changing pieces of contemporary art. The square is also used for political demonstrations and community gatherings, such as the celebration of New Year’s Eve.

The name commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), a British naval victory of the Napoleonic Wars. The original name was to have been “King William the Fourth’s Square”, but George Ledwell Taylor suggested the name “Trafalgar Square”.[1]

In the 1820s the Prince Regent engaged the architect John Nash to redevelop the area. Nash cleared the square as part of his Charing Cross Improvement Scheme. The present architecture of the square is due to Sir Charles Barry and was completed in 1845.

Trafalgar Square is owned by the Queen in Right of the Crown, and managed by the Greater London Authority, while Westminster City Council owns the roads around the square, including the pedestrianised area of the North Terrace.[2]

File:Trafalgar Square-2.jpg

So we will meet again when “Farah and I Sell Out.”

Until then melancholy reading,


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1 Response to My Whit’s End Book Club–Out of Africa–The Grave in the Hills

  1. Roy Speed says:

    You asked about “Sirunga,” mentioned on the first page of “The Grave in the Hills.”

    Sirunga is the child of Kaninu, a boy with epilepsy described way back in the chapter “A Shooting Accident on the Farm.” Another son of Kaninu was Kabero, who had been holding the gun when it went off, and who had since disappeared. At one point, to emphasize how important Kabero was to him, Kaninu “declared with great strength that he would rather have Sirunga ten times eaten by leopards than he would lose Kabero. indeed now that Kabero was lost let Sirunga go as well. it would make no difference. — for Kabero, Kabero had been the apple of his eye and his heart’s blood…”

    Now for Denys’s question to Karen:
    …he laughed at my distress at parting with my people. ‘Do you feel,’ he said, ‘that you
    cannot live without Sirunga?’ ‘Yes,’ I said.

    I think what this means is something like, “Do you mean you can’t bear life without even the least of your Kikuyu, like poor Sirunga, with his epilepsy?” — to which Karen answers Yes.


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