Editorial Emendations


These notes record all editorial emendations in the present text to the first edition of Piggy. Each entry contains the reading of the present text before the “]” and the reading of the first edition after the “].” Thus “1 little ] litle” indicates that in the first line of the poem the misspelled “litle” of the first edition has been corrected to “little” in the present text.

1 little ] litle
6 graces ] grace's
9 sometimes ] somtimes
26 shortage ] stortage
28 mortgage ] mortaage

Explanatory Notes

The primary purpose of these Explanatory Notes is twofold: to explain or identify words and phrases that might be obscure to urban readers of Piggy, and to call attention to words, phrases, and passages of the poem that allude to or, as the case may be, derive from the works of other writers. In this latter category, the notes are intended to complement the Introduction, where the emphasis is placed less on local verbal and phrasal echoes than on the large patterns and assumptions that link Piggy both with the ideas and assumptions of Mrs. Buchanan’s own time and with later developments in the Canadian literary continuity. Quotations from Hogg and Swineburne—the poets most frequently echoed in the diction, tone, and poetic texture of Piggy—are from James Hogg: Selected Poems, edited by Douglas S. Mack (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970) and The Complete Works of Algernon Charles Swineburne, edited by Edmund Gosse and T.J. Wise (New York: Wells, 1925-1927).

1 sing See the Introduction p.7 for a discussion of the epic tradition invoked by this verb.
1 sing . . . little or big Cf. Virgil, Eclogue IV, 1: “paulo maiora canamus” (‘We shall sing of something a little bigger’). As in the refusal of the aggrandizing delay of the initial verb (“I’ll sing”), Mrs. Buchanan’s determination to sing of the “little or big” demonstrates her anti-Virgilian and very modest ambitions, and her commitment to her agricultural concerns—further evidence of her subversion of the traditional hierarchy exemplified by the classic poet’s abandonment of his bucolic mode for grander themes.
3 Tho’ he cares not a fig to be neat or be trig This line reveals Mrs. Buchanan’s uncanny insight into the character and motivations of her subject. For the fate of a trigger pig compare this stanza from a traditional Scottish ballad in a volume perhaps familiar to Mrs. Buchanan, Motherwell’s Minstrelsy Ancient and Modern:

She laid him on a dressing table,
     She dress’d him like a swine,
Says, “Lie ye there, my bonnie Sir Hugh,
     Wi’ ye’re apples red and green!”
(“Sir Hugh, or the Jew’s Daughter,” p. 204)
  trig Smart, well-dressed; trim or tight in person, shape, or appearance; in good physical condition; active, nimble.
5 meat—juicy meat Cf. Jonson, Bartholomew Fair I, vi, 46-49: “Now pig, it is meat, and a meat that is nourishing, and may be longed for, and so consequently eaten.”
5-7 spare ribs . . . head . . . feet, and the carcase complete In The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (1796; rpt. 1971), pp. 87-88, Mrs. Glasse describes “Various Ways of dressing a Pig”: “First skin your pig up to the ears whole . . . fill the skin, and sew it up; it will look like a pig . . . cut the other part of the pig into four quarter, roast them as you do lamb . . . . Any one of these quarters will make a pretty side-dish . . . .” She also provides recipes for “A Pig in Jelly,” “Collared Pig,” “[A] Pig the French Way,” “[A] Pig au Pere Douillet,” “A Pig Matelote,” “[A] Pig like a Fat Lamb,” and—nearest to the North-American style—“Barbecued Pig” (pp. 88-89).
7 carcase Carcass.
9 snowy lard—sometimes soft, sometimes hard “Outside fat [of pork] should be firm and white . . .”(Five Roses Guide to Good Cooking, Montreal and Winnipeg: Lake of the Woods Milling Co. Ltd., n.d.), p. 69.
11 pard An archaic or poetic usage: a panther or leopard, by extension, any beast. There may possibly be a play as well on “pardner”; see line 13: “But the pig is a friend that will last to the end. . . .” Cf. Swineburne, “Hymn of Man,” 193: “Shall God then die as the beasts die?”
12 Tho’ sometimes new friends we be making An allusion to the medical controversy over the proper balance of polyunsaturated and saturated fats in a healthful diet. Lard is a highly saturated fat. As early as 1796 evidence can be found that lard consumption was decreasing in favour of shortening and other substitutes: “Rub 4 pound of sugar, 3 and a half pound of shortning, (half butter and half lard) into 9 pound of flour” (A. Simmons, American Cookery 34 Loaf Cakes No. 2). Mrs. Buchanan was thus participating in a trend that has accelerated to the present day. “The U.S. per capita consumption of lard in 1950 was 12.6 lb (5.7 kg); in 1982, it was only 2.5 lb (1.1 kg)” (Food for Health—a Nutrition Encyclopedia, Clovis, Ca.: Pegus Press, 1986), p. 666.
13 the pig is a friend that will last to the end In this line Mrs. Buchanan seems to be pointing to a dual benefit to be derived from the pig. Without denying the nutritional uses of pork enumerated in the previous two stanzas, she claims for her subject a spiritual value as well. In her consciousness of the simultaneously physically and spiritually sustaining nature of the pig, Mrs. Buchanan may be influenced by the following lines from James Hogg’s “James Rigg”:

And lo! a vision bright and beautiful
Sheds a refulgent glory o’er the sand,
The sand and gravel of my avenue!
For, standing silent by the kitchen-door,
Tinged by the morning sun, and in its own
Brown natural hide most lovely, two long ears
Upstretching perpendicularly, then
With the horizon levell’d—to my gaze
Superb as horn of fabled Unicorn,
Each in its own proportions grander far
Than the frontal glory of that wandering beast,
Child of the Desart! Lo! a beauteous Ass,
With panniers hanging silent at each side!
Silent as cage of bird whose song is mute,
Though silent yet not empty, fill’d with bread
The staff of life, the means by which the soul
By fate obedient to the powers of sense,
Renews its faded vigour, and keeps up
A proud communion with the eternal heavens.

(pp. 62-63)


15 recommend Recommendation.
16 he always keeps doing his duty Cf. Swineburne, “The Leper,” 93-107: “Six months, and now my sweet is dead . . . . Six months, and I sit still and hold / In two cold palms her two cold feet. / Her hair, half grey, half ruined gold / Thrills me and burns me in kissing it . . . . Her worn-off eyelids madden me . . . .”
17 our gardens oft loot In “What We Have Done to Beautify our Home Surroundings” Mrs. Buchanan speaks of the livestock’s destruction of her fledgling flower garden as a constant trial and source of disappointment. She speaks particularly of “the cattle [which] all got in / And trampled down our flower beds / Till we felt as mad as sin” and “the pigs [which] considered it to be / Their happy hunting ground.” See also, Swineburne, “The Garden of Proserpine,” 17: “Here life has death for neighbour . . . .”
18 natur’ Nature. Cf. Pope, An Essay on Man, IV, 332-334: “. . . look . . . thro’ Nature, up to Nature’s God. / Pursue . . . that Chain which links th’ immense design, / Joins heav’n and earth, and mortal and divine . . . .”
19 scoot Scotch and American: “to slide suddenly, as on slippery ground” (OED). Scoot may also be a variant spelling of the verb “scout,” to make a search. Stray pigs were not an uncommon occurrence in turn-of-the-century Canada. Included in a column of notices of “Estrayed Stock” in the Wiarton Echo for December 31, 1908 is the following advertisement: “Stray Pig—Estrayed from lot 27 con. 13 Albemarle, last week in November, a large sow, 2 years old, weight nearly 300 lbs, color white, with two big rings in nose. Information will be gladly received by Josiah Crawford, Purple Valley.” Cf. Tennyson, “Walking to the Mail,” 78-91:

                              He had a sow, sir. She,
With meditative grunts of much content,
Lay great with pig, wallowing in sun and mud.
By night we dragged her to the college tower
From her warm bed, and up the corkscrew stair
With hand and rope we haled the groaning sow,
And on the leads we kept her till she pigged.
Large range of prospect had the mother sow,
And but for daily loss of one she loved
As one by one we took them—but for this—
As never sow was higher in this world—
Might have been happy: but what lot is pure?
We took them all, till she was left alone
Upon the tower, the Niobe of swine. . . .


19 “Brute” The reference is to the dying words of Gaius Julius Caesar (100- 44 B.C.). Apparently Mrs. Buchanan feels betrayed after the incident summed up in the verb “scoot.”
20 cess The phrase bad cess to means ‘bad luck to’; the word “cess” also refers to various kinds of taxation. It is also redolent with associations of the space of ground between a drain or river and the foot of its bank.
20 cratur’ Creature.
21 will Mrs. Buchanan evidently recognized, as did William Wordsworth (see The Prelude, VII, 708: “the learned Pig”), the great intelligence of the pig. She seems, consequently, to have assumed that the pig’s near-human faculties conferred upon it the privilege and responsibility of free will, tempering the behavioural limits set by Nature. Again, cf. Pope, An Essay on Man, IV, 112: “There deviates Nature, and here wanders Will. . . .”
23 swill Liquid, or partly liquid, food, chiefly kitchen refuse, given to swine (OED).
25 money affairs Hogs were a profitable business in the early twentieth century in Canada. The Wiarton Echo of December 31, 1908 quotes hog prices in the Toronto markets as follows: “$6 for selects, fed and watered, and $5.75 to drovers f.o.b. cars at country points.” Dressed hogs were “steady at $8 to $8.25 for heavy, and at $8.50 for light.” Prices for hogs improved as the winter progressed; on January 28, 1909 dressed hogs were “firm at $8.75 to $9 for heavy, and at $9.15 to $9.30 for light” (The Wiarton Echo). For the method of dressing see the note to line 3, above.
27-28 Then the pig nobly shares . . . he’s great at reducing a mortgage In the nineteenth century, pigs came to be known as “mortgage lifters” on account of their reliability as meat producers (hence, the “piggy bank”). Like Mrs. Buchanan, Hogg (the “Ettrick Shepherd”) was well aware of the financial advantages of keeping a pig and of the potential value of the reversion: cf. “Thy pen is worth ten thousand . . .” (“Lines to Sir Walter Scott, Bart.,” 107). Walter and Mary Buchanan appear not to have been alone in providing luxurious quarters for their pigs. The Wiarton Echo of January 28, 1909 reports on the “more or less difficult problem” of winter housing for swine as follows:

The revised edition of Bulletin No. 10 of the Live Stock Branch, Ottawa, treats this question in a very practical manner. It says: “Much of the success of hog-raising depends upon suitable housing. Suitable housing does not, however, demand expensively built houses and pens designed so as to provide summer temperature during the winter season. In an ambitious desire to treat swine with due consideration for their comfort many progressive hog raisers have, during the past few years, practically wasted large sums of money in building elaborate warm houses for their herds. . . .”

In apparent anticipation of the current trend (in education at least) toward portable accommodation the bulletin goes on to recommend that “‘[f]or brood sows due to farrow in the late winter or early spring months there is no better shelter than the moveable cabin. A number of these can be ranged side by side in or near the barn yard. . . .’” The report concludes with the advice that “The bulletin . . . goes on to describe in detail the plan, construction and management of various styles of houses that are in successful operation in different parts of Canada. Copies of this excellent bulletin which should be in the hands of every swine raiser may be secured free. . . .”


27 our burden oft bears Cf. Swineburne, “Ave Atque Vale,” 58-64: “Hast thou found place at the great knees and feet / Of some . . . Titan-woman like a lover . . . Under the shadow of her fair vast head, / The deep division of prodigious breasts, / The solemn slope of mighty limbs . . . / The weight of awful tresses . . .?”
29 the pig is a gent Cf. Swineburne, “The Higher Pantheism in a Nutshell,” 19-20: “Once the mastodon was: pterodactyls were common as cocks: / Then the mammoth was God: now is He a prize ox.”
30 corker Something very striking or astonishing; something that puts an end to discussion; notwithstanding which, Mrs. Buchanan continues for two more lines below.
31-32 But we will repent and lose many a cent / If we ever go back on the porker. Mrs. Buchanan was in the vanguard of the animals’ rights movement and her resolution expresses the profound change in attitude in her day from the times of Peter Heylin, who wrote, “They sacrificed a swine or porker, with this solemn form” (Ecclesia Vindicata, or the Church of England Justified [1657], 181), and Pope, who described the sufferings of “nobl[e]” “cratur’[s]” offered as innocent sacrifices in these words: “Then sheep and goats and bristly porkers bled” (Homer’s Odyssey, XVII, 201). porker: A young pig fattened for pork.



Duckies, duckies, duckies
     All in a row,
Waddle, waddle, waddle
     To the creek they go
Looking for the slimy bugs,

     Snails, and minnows small,
And of fowls that gobble stuff
     Ducks can beat them all.

Paddle, paddle, paddle,
     Out they go and in,

Gabble, gabble, gabble,
     Don’t they make a din?
Don’t they have a jolly time?
     Don’t they make a row?
Holding business meeting

     Or a sociable pow-wow.

Clatter, clatter, clatter,
     See them beck and bow.
Patter, patter, patter,
     What are they doing now?


See them preen their feathers,
     See their wings they flap,
And for all outsiders
     They do not care a rap.

But soon, alas, comes “Thanksgiving,”

     Off goes duckies heads,
And their downy feathers
     Make our feather beds;
And we lie so comfy
     When the nights are cold,

But the duckie doodles
     Are eaten up, or sold.

Duckies, duckies, duckies,
     Succulent and sweet;
Duck is to me the very best

     Of fowl there is to eat.
Long, too long, the turkey
     Has held the place of state,
But get a piece of juicy duck
     And “oh,” but it is “great.”