From, Barrack-Room Ballads

 

Gunga Din

You may talk o’ gin and beer
When you’re quartered safe out ‘ere,
An’ you’re sent to penny-fights an’ Aldershot it;
But when it comes to slaughter
You will do your work on water,
An’ you’ll lick the bloomin’ boots of ‘im that’s got it.
Now in Injia’s sunny clime,
Where I used to spend my time
A-servin’ of ‘Er Majesty the Queen,
Of all them blackfaced crew
The finest man I knew
Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din.
He was “Din! Din! Din!
You limpin’ lump o’ brick-dust, Gunga Din!
Hi! slippery hitherao!
Water, get it! Panee lao!
You squidgy-nosed old idol, Gunga Din.”

The uniform ‘e wore
Was nothin’ much before,
An’ rather less than ‘arf o’ that be’ind,
For a piece o’ twisty rag
An’ a goatskin water-bag
Was all the field-equipment ‘e could find.
When the sweatin’ troop-train lay
In a sidin’ through the day,
Where the ‘eat would make your bloomin’ eyebrows crawl,
We shouted “Harry By!”
Till our throats were bricky-dry,
Then we wopped ‘im ’cause ‘e couldn’t serve us all.
It was “Din! Din! Din!
You ‘eathen, where the mischief ‘ave you been?
You put some juldee in it
Or I’ll marrow you this minute
If you don’t fill up my helmet, Gunga Din!”

‘E would dot an’ carry one
Till the longest day was done;
An’ ‘e didn’t seem to know the use o’ fear.
If we charged or broke or cut,
You could bet your bloomin’ nut,
‘E’d be waitin’ fifty paces right flank rear.
With ‘is mussick on ‘is back,
‘E would skip with our attack,
An’ watch us till the bugles made “Retire”,
An’ for all ‘is dirty ‘ide
‘E was white, clear white, inside
When ‘e went to tend the wounded under fire!
It was “Din! Din! Din!”
With the bullets kickin’ dust-spots on the green.
When the cartridges ran out,
You could hear the front-files shout,
“Hi! ammunition-mules an’ Gunga Din!”

I shan’t forgit the night
When I dropped be’ind the fight
With a bullet where my belt-plate should ‘a’ been.
I was chokin’ mad with thirst,
An’ the man that spied me first
Was our good old grinnin’, gruntin’ Gunga Din.
‘E lifted up my ‘ead,
An’ he plugged me where I bled,
An’ ‘e guv me ‘arf-a-pint o’ water-green:
It was crawlin’ and it stunk,
But of all the drinks I’ve drunk,
I’m gratefullest to one from Gunga Din.
It was “Din! Din! Din!
‘Ere’s a beggar with a bullet through ‘is spleen;
‘E’s chawin’ up the ground,
An’ ‘e’s kickin’ all around:
For Gawd’s sake git the water, Gunga Din!”

‘E carried me away
To where a dooli lay,
An’ a bullet come an’ drilled the beggar clean.
‘E put me safe inside,
An’ just before ‘e died,
“I ‘ope you liked your drink”, sez Gunga Din.
So I’ll meet ‘im later on
At the place where ‘e is gone—
Where it’s always double drill and no canteen;
‘E’ll be squattin’ on the coals
Givin’ drink to poor damned souls,
An’ I’ll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!
Yes, Din! Din! Din!
You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!
Though I’ve belted you and flayed you,
By the livin’ Gawd that made you,
You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

 

The Widow at Windsor

‘Ave you ‘eard o’ the Widow at Windsor
With a hairy gold crown on ‘er ‘ead?
She ‘as ships on the foam—she ‘as millions at ‘ome,
An’ she pays us poor beggars in red.
(Ow, poor beggars in red!)
There’s ‘er nick on the cavalry ‘orses,
There’s ‘er mark on the medical stores—
An’ ‘er troopers you’ll find with a fair wind be’ind
That takes us to various wars.
(Poor beggars!—barbarious wars!)
Then ‘ere’s to the Widow at Windsor,
An’ ‘ere’s to the stores an’ the guns,
The men an’ the ‘orses what makes up the forces
O’ Missis Victorier’s sons.
(Poor beggars! Victorier’s sons!)

Walk wide o’ the Widow at Windsor,
For ‘alf o’ Creation she owns:
We ‘ave bought ‘er the same with the sword an’ the flame,
An’ we’ve salted it down with our bones.
(Poor beggars!—it’s blue with our bones!)
Hands off o’ the sons o’ the Widow,
Hands off o’ the goods in ‘er shop,
For the Kings must come down an’ the Emperors frown
When the Widow at Windsor says “Stop”!
(Poor beggars!—we’re sent to say “Stop”!)
Then ‘ere’s to the Lodge o’ the Widow,
From the Pole to the Tropics it runs—
To the Lodge that we tile with the rank an’ the file,
An’ open in form with the guns.
(Poor beggars!—it’s always they guns!)

We ‘ave ‘eard o’ the Widow at Windsor,
It’s safest to let ‘er alone:
For ‘er sentries we stand by the sea an’ the land
Wherever the bugles are blown.
(Poor beggars!—an’ don’t we get blown!)
Take ‘old o’ the Wings o’ the Mornin’,
An’ flop round the earth till you’re dead;
But you won’t get away from the tune that they play
To the bloomin’ old rag over’ead.
(Poor beggars!—it’s ‘ot over’ead!)
Then ‘ere’s to the sons o’ the Widow,
Wherever, ‘owever they roam.
‘Ere’s all they desire, an’ if they require
A speedy return to their ‘ome.
(Poor beggars!—they’ll never see ‘ome!)

 

Belts

There was a row in Silver Street that’s near to Dublin Quay,
Between an Irish regiment an’ English cavalree;
It started at Revelly an’ it lasted on till dark:
The first man dropped at Harrison’s, the last forninst the Park.
For it was:—”Belts, belts, belts, an’ that’s one for you!”
An’ it was “Belts, belts, belts, an’ that’s done for you!”
O buckle an’ tongue
Was the song that we sung
From Harrison’s down to the Park!

There was a row in Silver Street—the regiments was out,
They called us “Delhi Rebels”, an’ we answered “Threes about!”
That drew them like a hornet’s nest—we met them good an’ large,
The English at the double an’ the Irish at the charge.
Then it was:—”Belts…”

There was a row in Silver Street—an’ I was in it too;
We passed the time o’ day, an’ then the belts went whirraru!
I misremember what occurred, but subsequint the storm
A Freeman’s Journal Supplemint was all my uniform.
O it was:—”Belts…

There was a row in Silver Street—they sent the Polis there,
The English were too drunk to know, the Irish didn’t care;
But when they grew impertinint we simultaneous rose,
Till half o’ them was Liffey mud an’ half was tatthered clo’es.
For it was:—”Belts…

There was a row in Silver Street—it might ha’ raged till now,
But some one drew his side-arm clear, an’ nobody knew how;
‘Twas Hogan took the point an’ dropped; we saw the red blood run:
An’ so we all was murderers that started out in fun.
While it was:—”Belts…

There was a row in Silver Street—but that put down the shine,
Wid each man whisperin’ to his next: “‘Twas never work o’ mine!”
We went away like beaten dogs, an’ down the street we bore him,
The poor dumb corpse that couldn’t tell the bhoys were sorry for him.
When it was:—”Belts…

There was a row in Silver Street—it isn’t over yet,
For half of us are under guard wid punishments to get;
‘Tis all a merricle to me as in the Clink I lie:
There was a row in Silver Street—begod, I wonder why!
But it was:—”Belts, belts, belts, an’ that’s one for you!”
An’ it was “Belts, belts, belts, an’ that’s done for you!”
O buckle an’ tongue
Was the song that we sung
From Harrison’s down to the Park!

 

The Young British Soldier

When the ‘arf-made recruity goes out to the East
‘E acts like a babe an’ ‘e drinks like a beast,
An’ ‘e wonders because ‘e is frequent deceased
Ere ‘e’s fit for to serve as a soldier.
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
So-oldier of the Queen!

Now all you recruities what’s drafted to-day,
You shut up your rag-box an’ ‘ark to my lay,
An’ I’ll sing you a soldier as far as I may:
A soldier what’s fit for a soldier.
Fit, fit, fit for a soldier…

First mind you steer clear o’ the grog-sellers’ huts,
For they sell you Fixed Bay’nets that rots out your guts—
Ay, drink that ‘ud eat the live steel from your butts—
An’ it’s bad for the young British soldier.
Bad, bad, bad for the soldier…

When the cholera comes—as it will past a doubt—
Keep out of the wet and don’t go on the shout,
For the sickness gets in as the liquor dies out,
An’ it crumples the young British soldier.
Crum-, crum-, crumples the soldier…

But the worst o’ your foes is the sun over’ead:
You must wear your ‘elmet for all that is said:
If ‘e finds you uncovered ‘e’ll knock you down dead,
An’ you’ll die like a fool of a soldier.
Fool, fool, fool of a soldier…

If you’re cast for fatigue by a sergeant unkind,
Don’t grouse like a woman nor crack on nor blind;
Be handy and civil, and then you will find
That it’s beer for the young British soldier.
Beer, beer, beer for the soldier…

Now, if you must marry, take care she is old—
A troop-sergeant’s widow’s the nicest I’m told,
For beauty won’t help if your rations is cold,
Nor love ain’t enough for a soldier.
‘Nough, ‘nough, ‘nough for a soldier…

If the wife should go wrong with a comrade, be loath
To shoot when you catch ’em—you’ll swing, on my oath!—
Make ‘im take ‘er and keep ‘er: that’s Hell for them both,
An’ you’re shut o’ the curse of a soldier.
Curse, curse, curse of a soldier…

When first under fire an’ you’re wishful to duck,
Don’t look nor take ‘eed at the man that is struck,
Be thankful you’re livin’, and trust to your luck
And march to your front like a soldier.
Front, front, front like a soldier…

When ‘arf of your bullets fly wide in the ditch,
Don’t call your Martini a cross-eyed old bitch;
She’s human as you are—you treat her as sich,
An’ she’ll fight for the young British soldier.
Fight, fight, fight for the soldier…

When shakin’ their bustles like ladies so fine,
The guns o’ the enemy wheel into line,
Shoot low at the limbers an’ don’t mind the shine,
For noise never startles the soldier.
Start-, start-, startles the soldier…

If your officer’s dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it’s ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
And wait for supports like a soldier.
Wait, wait, wait like a soldier…

When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier of the Queen!

 

Mandalay

By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ eastward to the sea,
There’s a Burma girl a-settin’, and I know she thinks o’ me;
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say:
“Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!”
Come you back to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay:
Can’t you ‘ear their paddles chunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay?
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!

‘Er petticoat was yaller an’ ‘er little cap was green,
An’ ‘er name was Supi-yaw-lat—jes’ the same as Theebaw’s Queen,
An’ I seed her first a-smokin’ of a whackin’ white cheroot,
An’ a-wastin’ Christian kisses on an ‘eathen idol’s foot:
Bloomin’ idol made o’mud—
Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd—
Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed ‘er where she stud!
On the road to Mandalay…

When the mist was on the rice-fields an’ the sun was droppin’ slow,
She’d git ‘er little banjo an’ she’d sing “Kulla-lo-lo!”
With ‘er arm upon my shoulder an’ ‘er cheek agin’ my cheek
We useter watch the steamers an’ the hathis pilin’ teak.
Elephints a-pilin’ teak
In the sludgy, squdgy creek,
Where the silence ‘ung that ‘eavy you was ‘arf afraid to speak!
On the road to Mandalay…

But that’s all shove be’ind me—long ago an’ fur away,
An’ there ain’t no ‘busses runnin’ from the Bank to Mandalay;
An’ I’m learnin’ ‘ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells:
“If you’ve ‘eard the East a-callin’, you won’t never ‘eed naught else.”
No! you won’t ‘eed nothin’ else
But them spicy garlic smells,
An’ the sunshine an’ the palm-trees an’ the tinkly temple-bells;
On the road to Mandalay…

I am sick o’ wastin’ leather on these gritty pavin’-stones,
An’ the blasted Henglish drizzle wakes the fever in my bones;
Tho’ I walks with fifty ‘ousemaids outer Chelsea to the Strand,
An’ they talks a lot o’ lovin’, but wot do they understand?
Beefy face an’ grubby ‘and—
Law! wot do they understand?
I’ve a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!
On the road to Mandalay…

Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
Where there aren’t no Ten Commandments an’ a man can raise a thirst;
For the temple-bells are callin’, an’ it’s there that I would be—
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea;
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the old Flotilla lay,
With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay!
On the road to Mandalay,
Where the flyin’-fishes play,
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!

 

Troopin’

(Our Army in the East)

Troopin’, troopin’, troopin’ to the sea:
‘Ere’s September come again—the six-year men are free.
O leave the dead be’ind us, for they cannot come away
To where the ship’s a-coalin’ up that takes us ‘ome to-day.
We’re goin’ ‘ome, we’re goin’ ‘ome,
Our ship is at the shore,
An’ you must pack your ‘aversack,
For we won’t come back no more.
Ho, don’t you grieve for me,
My lovely Mary-Ann,
For I’ll marry you yit on a fourp’ny bit
As a time-expired man.

The Malabar’s in ‘arbour with the Jumner at ‘er tail,
An’ the time-expired’s waitin’ of ‘is orders for to sail.
Ho! the weary waitin’ when on Khyber ‘ills we lay,
But the time-expired’s waitin’ of ‘is orders ‘ome to-day.

They’ll turn us out at Portsmouth wharf in cold an’ wet an’ rain,
All wearin’ Injian cotton kit, but we will not complain;
They’ll kill us of pneumonia—for that’s their little way—
But damn the chills and fever, men, we’re goin’ ‘ome to-day!

Troopin’, troopin’, winter’s round again!
See the new draf’s pourin’ in for the old campaign;
Ho, you poor recruities, but you’ve got to earn your pay—
What’s the last from Lunnon, lads? We’re goin’ there to-day.

Troopin’, troopin’, give another cheer—
‘Ere’s to English women an’ a quart of English beer.
The Colonel an’ the regiment an’ all who’ve got to stay,
Gawd’s mercy strike ’em gentle—Whoop! we’re goin’ ‘ome to-day.
We’re goin’ ‘ome, we’re goin’ ‘ome,
Our ship is at the shore,
An’ you must pack your ‘aversack,
For we won’t come back no more.
Ho, don’t you grieve for me,
My lovely Mary-Ann,
For I’ll marry you yit on a fourp’ny bit
As a time-expired man.

 

Ford o’ Kabul River

Kabul town’s by Kabul river—
Blow the bugle, draw the sword—
There I lef’ my mate for ever,
Wet an’ drippin’ by the ford.
Ford, ford, ford o’ Kabul river,
Ford o’ Kabul river in the dark!
There’s the river up and brimmin’, an’ there’s ‘arf a squadron swimmin’
‘Cross the ford o’ Kabul river in the dark.

Kabul town’s a blasted place—
Blow the bugle, draw the sword—
‘Strewth I sha’n’t forget ‘is face
Wet an’ drippin’ by the ford!
Ford, ford, ford o’ Kabul river,
Ford o’ Kabul river in the dark!
Keep the crossing-stakes beside you, an’ they will surely guide you
‘Cross the ford o’ Kabul river in the dark.

Kabul town is sun and dust—
Blow the bugle, draw the sword—
I’d ha’ sooner drownded fust
‘Stead of ‘im beside the ford.
Ford, ford, ford o’ Kabul river,
Ford o’ Kabul river in the dark!
You can ‘ear the ‘orses threshin’, you can ‘ear the men a-splashin’,
‘Cross the ford o’ Kabul river in the dark.

Kabul town was ours to take—
Blow the bugle, draw the sword—
I’d ha’ left it for ‘is sake—
‘Im that left me by the ford.
Ford, ford, ford o’ Kabul river,
Ford o’ Kabul river in the dark!
It’s none so bloomin’ dry there; ain’t you never comin’ nigh there,
‘Cross the ford o’ Kabul river in the dark?

Kabul town’ll go to hell—
Blow the bugle, draw the sword—
‘Fore I see him ‘live an’ well—
‘Im the best beside the ford.
Ford, ford, ford o’ Kabul river,
Ford o’ Kabul river in the dark!
Gawd ‘elp ’em if they blunder, for their boots’ll pull ’em under,
By the ford o’ Kabul river in the dark.

Turn your ‘orse from Kabul town—
Blow the bugle, draw the sword—
‘Im an’ ‘arf my troop is down,
Down an’ drownded by the ford.
Ford, ford, ford o’ Kabul river,
Ford o’ Kabul river in the dark!
There’s the river low an’ fallin’, but it ain’t no use o’ callin’
‘Cross the ford o’ Kabul river in the dark.

 

Route Marchin’

We’re marchin’ on relief over Injia’s sunny plains,
A little front o’ Christmas-time an’ just be’ind the Rains;
Ho! get away you bullock-man, you’ve ‘eard the bugle blowed,
There’s a regiment a-comin’ down the Grand Trunk Road;
With its best foot first
And the road a-sliding past,
An’ every bloomin’ campin’-ground exactly like the last;
While the Big Drum says,
With ‘is “rowdy-dowdy-dow!”—
“Kiko kissywarsti don’t you hamsher argy jow?”
Oh, there’s them Injian temples to admire when you see,
There’s the peacock round the corner an’ the monkey up the tree,
An’ there’s that rummy silver grass a-wavin’ in the wind,
An’ the old Grand Trunk a-trailin’ like a rifle-sling be’ind.
While it’s best foot first,…

At half-past five’s Revelly, an’ our tents they down must come,
Like a lot of button mushrooms when you pick ’em up at ‘ome.
But it’s over in a minute, an’ at six the column starts,
While the women and the kiddies sit an’ shiver in the carts.
An’ it’s best foot first,…

Oh, then it’s open order, an’ we lights our pipes an’ sings,
An’ we talks about our rations an’ a lot of other things,
An’ we thinks o’ friends in England, an’ we wonders what they’re at,
An’ ‘ow they would admire for to hear us sling the bat.
An’ it’s best foot first,…
It’s none so bad o’ Sunday, when you’re lyin’ at your ease,
To watch the kites a-wheelin’ round them feather-‘eaded trees,
For although there ain’t no women, yet there ain’t no barrick-yards,
So the orficers goes shootin’ an’ the men they plays at cards.
Till it’s best foot first,…

So ‘ark an’ ‘eed, you rookies, which is always grumblin’ sore,
There’s worser things than marchin’ from Umballa to Cawnpore;
An’ if your ‘eels are blistered an’ they feels to ‘urt like ‘ell,
You drop some tallow in your socks an’ that will make ’em well.
For it’s best foot first,…

We’re marchin’ on relief over Injia’s coral strand,
Eight ‘undred fightin’ Englishmen, the Colonel, and the Band;
Ho! get away you bullock-man, you’ve ‘eard the bugle blowed,
There’s a regiment a-comin’ down the Grand Trunk Road;
With its best foot first
And the road a-sliding past,
An’ every bloomin’ campin’-ground exactly like the last;
While the Big Drum says,
With ‘is “rowdy-dowdy-dow!”—
“Kiko kissywarsti don’t you hamsher argy jow?”

 

The Mother-Lodge

There was Rundle, Station Master,
An’ Beazeley of the Rail,
An’ ‘Ackman, Commissariat,
An’ Donkin’ o’ the Jail;
An’ Blake, Conductor-Sargent,
Our Master twice was ‘e,
With ‘im that kept the Europe-shop,
Old Framjee Eduljee.

Outside—”Sergeant! Sir! Salute! Salaam!”
Inside—”Brother”, an’ it doesn’t do no ‘arm.
We met upon the Level an’ we parted on the Square,
An’ I was Junior Deacon in my Mother-Lodge out there!

We’d Bola Nath, Accountant,
An’ Saul the Aden Jew,
An’ Din Mohammed, draughtsman
Of the Survey Office too;
There was Babu Chuckerbutty,
An’ Amir Singh the Sikh,
An’ Castro from the fittin’-sheds,
The Roman Catholick!

We ‘adn’t good regalia,
An’ our Lodge was old an’ bare,
But we knew the Ancient Landmarks,
An’ we kep’ ’em to a hair;
An’ lookin’ on it backwards
It often strikes me thus,
There ain’t such things as infidels,
Excep’, per’aps, it’s us.

For monthly, after Labour,
We’d all sit down and smoke
(We dursn’t give no banquits,
Lest a Brother’s caste were broke),
An’ man on man got talkin’
Religion an’ the rest,
An’ every man comparin’
Of the God ‘e knew the best.

So man on man got talkin’,
An’ not a Brother stirred
Till mornin’ waked the parrots
An’ that dam’ brain-fever-bird;
We’d say ’twas ‘ighly curious,
An’ we’d all ride ‘ome to bed,
With Mo’ammed, God, an’ Shiva
Changin’ pickets in our ‘ead.

Full oft on Guv’ment service
This rovin’ foot ‘ath pressed,
An’ bore fraternal greetin’s
To the Lodges east an’ west,
Accordin’ as commanded
From Kohat to Singapore,
But I wish that I might see them
In my Mother-Lodge once more!

I wish that I might see them,
My Brethren black an’ brown,
With the trichies smellin’ pleasant
An’ the hog-darn passin’ down;
An’ the old khansamah snorin’
On the bottle-khana floor,
Like a Master in good standing
With my Mother-Lodge once more!

Outside—”Sergeant! Sir! Salute! Salaam!”
Inside—”Brother”, an’ it doesn’t do no ‘arm.
We met upon the Level an’ we parted on the Square,
An’ I was Junior Deacon in my Mother-Lodge out there!

 

The ‘Eathen

The ‘eathen in ‘is blindness bows down to wood an’ stone;
‘E don’t obey no orders unless they is ‘is own;
‘E keeps ‘is side-arms awful: ‘e leaves ’em all about,
An’ then comes up the regiment an’ pokes the ‘eathen out.

All along o’ dirtiness, all along o’ mess,
All along o’ doin’ things rather-more-or-less,
All along of abby-nay, kul, an’ hazar-ho,
Mind you keep your rifle an’ yourself jus’ so!
The young recruit is ‘aughty—’e draf’s from Gawd knows where;
They bid ‘im show ‘is stockin’s an’ lay ‘is mattress square;
‘E calls it bloomin’ nonsense—’e doesn’t know no more—
An’ then up comes ‘is Company an’ kicks ‘im round the floor!

The young recruit is ‘ammered—’e takes it very ‘ard;
‘E ‘angs ‘is ‘ead an’ mutters—’e sulks about the yard;
‘E talks o’ “cruel tyrants” ‘e’ll swing for by-an’-by,
An’ the others ‘ears an’ mocks ‘im, an’ the boy goes orf to cry.

The young recruit is silly—’e thinks o’ suicide;
‘E’s lost ‘is gutter-devil; ‘e ‘asn’t got ‘is pride;
But day by day they kicks ‘im, which ‘elps ‘im on a bit,
Till ‘e finds ‘isself one mornin’ with a full an’ proper kit.

Gettin’ clear o’ dirtiness, gettin’ done with mess,
Gettin’ shut o’ doin’ things rather-more-or-less;
Not so fond of abby-nay, kul, nor hazar-ho,
Learns to keep ‘is rifle an’ ‘isself jus’ so!

The young recruit is ‘appy—’e throws a chest to suit;
You see ‘im grow mustaches; you ‘ear ‘im slap ‘is boot;
‘E learns to drop the “bloodies” from every word ‘e slings,
An’ ‘e shows an ‘ealthy brisket when ‘e strips for bars an’ rings.

The cruel-tyrant-sergeants they watch ‘im ‘arf a year;
They watch ‘im with ‘is comrades, they watch ‘im with ‘is beer;
They watch ‘im with the women at the regimental dance,
And the cruel-tyrant-sergeants send ‘is name along for “Lance”.

An’ now ‘e’s ‘arf o’ nothin’, an’ all a private yet,
‘Is room they up an’ rags ‘im to see what they will get;
They rags ‘im low an’ cunnin’, each dirty trick they can,
But ‘e learns to sweat ‘is temper an’ ‘e learns to sweat ‘is man.

An’, last, a Colour-Sergeant, as such to be obeyed,
‘E schools ‘is men at cricket, ‘e tells ’em on parade;
They sees ’em quick an’ ‘andy, uncommon set an’ smart,
An’ so ‘e talks to orficers which ‘ave the Core at ‘eart.

‘E learns to do ‘is watchin’ without it showin’ plain;
‘E learns to save a dummy, an’ shove ‘im straight again;
‘E learns to check a ranker that’s buyin’ leave to shirk;
An’ ‘e learns to make men like ‘im so they’ll learn to like their work.

An’ when it comes to marchin’ he’ll see their socks are right,
An’ when it comes to action ‘e shows ’em ‘ow to sight;
‘E knows their ways of thinkin’ and just what’s in their mind;
‘E knows when they are takin’ on an’ when they’ve fell be’ind.

‘E knows each talkin’ corpril that leads a squad astray;
‘E feels ‘is innards ‘eavin’, ‘is bowels givin’ way;
‘E sees the blue-white faces all tryin’ ‘ard to grin,
An’ ‘e stands an’ waits an’ suffers till it’s time to cap ’em in.

An’ now the hugly bullets come peckin’ through the dust,
An’ no one wants to face ’em, but every beggar must;
So, like a man in irons which isn’t glad to go,
They moves ’em off by companies uncommon stiff an’ slow.

Of all ‘is five years’ schoolin’ they don’t remember much
Excep’ the not retreatin’, the step an’ keepin’ touch.
It looks like teachin’ wasted when they duck an’ spread an’ ‘op,
But if ‘e ‘adn’t learned ’em they’d be all about the shop!

An’ now it’s “‘Oo goes backward?” an’ now it’s “‘Oo comes on?”
And now it’s “Get the doolies,” an’ now the captain’s gone;
An’ now it’s bloody murder, but all the while they ‘ear
‘Is voice, the same as barrick drill, a-shepherdin’ the rear.

‘E’s just as sick as they are, ‘is ‘eart is like to split,
But ‘e works ’em, works ’em, works ’em till he feels ’em take the bit;
The rest is ‘oldin’ steady till the watchful bugles play,
An’ ‘e lifts ’em, lifts ’em, lifts ’em through the charge that wins the day!

The ‘eathen in ‘is blindness bows down to wood an’ stone;
‘E don’t obey no orders unless they is ‘is own;
The ‘eathen in ‘is blindness must end where ‘e began,
But the backbone of the Army is the non-commissioned man!

Keep away from dirtiness—keep away from mess.
Don’t get into doin’ things rather-more-or-less!
Let’s ha’ done with abby-nay, kul, an’ hazar-ho;
Mind you keep your rifle an’ yourself jus’ so!

The Shut-Eye Sentry
Sez the Junior Orderly Sergeant
To the Senior Orderly Man:
“Our Orderly Orf’cer’s hokee-mut,
You ‘elp ‘im all you can.
For the wine was old and the night is cold,
An’ the best we may go wrong,
So, ‘fore ‘e gits to the sentry-box,
You pass the word along.”

So it was “Rounds! What Rounds?” at two of a frosty night,
‘E’s ‘oldin’ on by the sergeant’s sash, but, sentry, shut your eye.
An’ it was “Pass! All’s well!” Oh, ain’t ‘e drippin’ tight!
‘E’ll need an affidavit pretty badly by-an’-by.

The moon was white on the barricks,
The road was white an’ wide,
An’ the Orderly Orf’cer took it all,
An’ the ten-foot ditch beside.
An’ the corporal pulled an’ the sergeant pushed,
An’ the three they danced along,
But I’d shut my eyes in the sentry-box,
So I didn’t see nothin’ wrong.

Though it was “Rounds! What Rounds?” O corporal, ‘old ‘im up!
‘E’s usin’ ‘is cap as it shouldn’t be used, but, sentry, shut your eye.
An’ it was “Pass! All’s well!” Ho, shun the foamin’ cup!
‘E’ll need, etc.

‘Twas after four in the mornin’;
We ‘ad to stop the fun,
An’ we sent ‘im ‘ome on a bullock-cart,
With ‘is belt an’ stock undone;
But we sluiced ‘im down an’ we washed ‘im out,
An’ a first-class job we made,
When we saved ‘im, smart as a bombardier,
For six-o’clock parade.

It ‘ad been “Rounds! What Rounds?” Oh, shove ‘im straight again!
‘E’s usin’ ‘is sword for a bicycle, but, sentry, shut your eye.
An’ it was “Pass! All’s well!” ‘E’s called me “Darlin’ Jane”!
‘E’ll need, etc.

The drill was long an’ ‘eavy,
The sky was ‘ot an’ blue,
An’ ‘is eye was wild an’ ‘is ‘air was wet,
But ‘is sergeant pulled ‘im through.
Our men was good old trusties—
They’d done it on their ‘ead;
But you ought to ‘ave ‘eard ’em markin’ time
To ‘ide the things ‘e said!

For it was “Right flank—wheel!” for “‘Alt, an’ stand at ease!”
An’ “Left extend!” for “Centre close!” O marker, shut your eye!
An’ it was, “‘Ere, sir, ‘ere! before the Colonel sees!”
So he needed affidavits pretty badly by-an’-by.

There was two-an’-thirty sergeants,
There was corp’rals forty-one,
There was just nine ‘undred rank an’ file
To swear to a touch o’ sun.
There was me ‘e’d kissed in the sentry-box,
As I ‘ave not told in my song,
But I took my oath, which were Bible truth,
I ‘adn’t seen nothin’ wrong.

There’s them that’s ‘ot an’ ‘aughty,
There’s them that’s cold an’ ‘ard,
But there comes a night when the best gets tight,
And then turns out the Guard.
I’ve seen them ‘ide their liquor
In every kind o’ way,
But most depends on makin’ friends
With Privit Thomas A.!

When it is “Rounds! What Rounds?” ‘E’s breathin’ through ‘is nose.
‘E’s reelin’, rollin’, roarin’ tight, but, sentry, shut your eye.
An’ it is “Pass! All’s well!” An’ that’s the way it goes:
We’ll ‘elp ‘im for ‘is mother, an’ ‘e’ll ‘elp us by-an’-by!

 

Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), Indophile and Nobel Laureate, was one of the most well-known writers of tales from the British Raj, in genres of poetry, short story and the novel. His major works include The Jungle Book, Kim, Something of Myself, and many volumes of short stories such as Wee Willie Winkie... Quite of few of his early works were published by A.H. Wheeler and Co. for promotions of Railway Literature and the railways in India.

Comments

comments