Departmental Ditties
and other verses


Rudyard Kipling

logo

This web edition published by eBooks@Adelaide.

Last updated Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 14:32.

To the best of our knowledge, the text of this
work is in the “Public Domain” in Australia.
HOWEVER, copyright law varies in other countries, and the work may still be under copyright in the country from which you are accessing this website. It is your responsibility to check the applicable copyright laws in your country before downloading this work.

eBooks@Adelaide
The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005

Table of Contents

Departmental Ditties

  1. General Summary
  2. Army Headquarters
  3. Study of an Elevation, in Indian Ink
  4. Potiphar Gubbins, C. E.,
  5. A Legend
  6. The Story of Uriah
  7. The Post That Fitted
  8. Public Waste
  9. Delilah
  10. What Happened
  11. Pink Dominoes
  12. The Man Who Could Write
  13. Municipal
  14. A Code of Morals
  15. The Last Department
  16. The Ballad of Fisher’s Boarding-House
  17. As the Bell Clinks
  18. An Old Song
  19. Certain Maxims of Hafiz
  20. The Grave of the Hundred Head
  21. The Moon of Other Days
  22. The Overland Mail
  23. What the People Said
  24. The Undertaker’s Horse
  25. The Fall of Jock Gillespie
  26. Arithmetic on the Frontier
  27. The Betrothed
  28. A Tale of Two Cities

Ballads

  1. The Ballad of East and West
  2. The Last Suttee
  3. The Ballad of the King’s Mercy
  4. The Ballad of the King’s Jest
  5. The Ballad of Boh Da Thone
  6. The Lament of the Border Cattle Thief
  7. The Rhyme of the Three Captains
  8. The Ballad of the Clampherdown
  9. The Ballad of the “Bolivar”
  10. The English Flag
  11. “Cleared”
  12. An Imperial Rescript
  13. Tomlinson

Barrack-Room Ballads

  1. Dedication
  2. Danny Deever
  3. Tommy
  4. Fuzzy-Wuzzy
  5. Soldier, Soldier
  6. Screw-Guns
  7. Gunga Din
  8. Oonts
  9. Loot
  10. ‘Snarleyow’
  11. The Widow at Windsor
  12. Belts
  13. The Young British Soldier
  14. Mandalay
  15. Troopin’
  16. Ford O’ Kabul River
  17. Route Marchin’

Departmental Ditties

I have eaten your bread and salt,
   I have drunk your water and wine,
The deaths ye died I have watched beside,
   And the lives that ye led were mine.

Was there aught that I did not share
   In vigil or toil or ease,
One joy or woe that I did not know,
   Dear hearts across the seas?

I have written the tale of our life
   For a sheltered people’s mirth,
In jesting guise — but ye are wise,
And ye know what the jest is worth.

General Summary

We are very slightly changed
From the semi-apes who ranged
   India’s prehistoric clay;
Whoso drew the longest bow,
Ran his brother down, you know,
   As we run men down today.

“Dowb,” the first of all his race,
Met the Mammoth face to face
   On the lake or in the cave,
Stole the steadiest canoe,
Ate the quarry others slew,
   Died — and took the finest grave.

When they scratched the reindeer-bone
Someone made the sketch his own,
   Filched it from the artist — then,
Even in those early days,
Won a simple Viceroy’s praise
   Through the toil of other men.

Ere they hewed the Sphinx’s visage
Favoritism governed kissage,
Even as it does in this age.

Who shall doubt the secret hid
Under Cheops’ pyramid
Was that the contractor did
   Cheops out of several millions?
Or that Joseph’s sudden rise
To Comptroller of Supplies
Was a fraud of monstrous size
   On King Pharoah’s swart Civilians?

Thus, the artless songs I sing
Do not deal with anything
   New or never said before.

As it was in the beginning,
Is today official sinning,
   And shall be forevermore.

Army Headquarters

Old is the song that I sing —
   Old as my unpaid bills —
Old as the chicken that kitmutgars bring
Men at dak-bungalows — old as the Hills.

Ahasuerus Jenkins of the “Operatic Own”
Was dowered with a tenor voice of super-Santley tone.

His views on equitation were, perhaps, a trifle queer;
He had no seat worth mentioning, but oh! he had an ear.

He clubbed his wretched company a dozen times a day,
He used to quit his charger in a parabolic way,
His method of saluting was the joy of all beholders,
But Ahasuerus Jenkins had a head upon his shoulders.

He took two months to Simla when the year was at the spring,
And underneath the deodars eternally did sing.

He warbled like a bulbul, but particularly at
Cornelia Agrippina who was musical and fat.

She controlled a humble husband, who, in turn, controlled a Dept.,
Where Cornelia Agrippina’s human singing-birds were kept
From April to October on a plump retaining fee,
Supplied, of course, per mensem, by the Indian Treasury.

Cornelia used to sing with him, and Jenkins used to play;
He praised unblushingly her notes, for he was false as they:
So when the winds of April turned the budding roses brown,
Cornelia told her husband: “Tom, you mustn’t send him down.”

They haled him from his regiment which didn’t much regret him;
They found for him an office-stool, and on that stool they set him,
To play with maps and catalogues three idle hours a day,
And draw his plump retaining fee — which means his double pay.

Now, ever after dinner, when the coffeecups are brought,
Ahasuerus waileth o’er the grand pianoforte;
And, thanks to fair Cornelia, his fame hath waxen great,
And Ahasuerus Jenkins is a power in the State.

Study of an Elevation, in Indian Ink

This ditty is a string of lies.
But — how the deuce did Gubbins rise?

Potiphar Gubbins, C. E.,

Stands at the top of the tree;
And I muse in my bed on the reasons that led
To the hoisting of Potiphar G.

Potiphar Gubbins, C. E.,
Is seven years junior to Me;
Each bridge that he makes he either buckles or breaks,
And his work is as rough as he.

Potiphar Gubbins, C. E.,
Is coarse as a chimpanzee;
And I can’t understand why you gave him your hand,
Lovely Mehitabel Lee.

Potiphar Gubbins, C. E.,
Is dear to the Powers that Be;
For They bow and They smile in an affable style
Which is seldom accorded to Me.

Potiphar Gubbins, C. E.,
Is certain as certain can be
Of a highly-paid post which is claimed by a host
Of seniors — including Me.

Careless and lazy is he,
Greatly inferior to Me.

What is the spell that you manage so well,
Commonplace Potiphar G.?

Lovely Mehitabel Lee,
Let me inquire of thee,
Should I have riz to what Potiphar is,
Hadst thou been mated to me?

A Legend

This is the reason why Rustum Beg,
Rajah of Kolazai,
Drinketh the “simpkin” and brandy peg,
Maketh the money to fly,
Vexeth a Government, tender and kind,
Also — but this is a detail — blind.

RUSTUM BEG of Kolazai — slightly backward native state
Lusted for a C. S. I. — so began to sanitate.
Built a Jail and Hospital — nearly built a City drain —
Till his faithful subjects all thought their Ruler was insane.

Strange departures made he then — yea, Departments stranger still,
Half a dozen Englishmen helped the Rajah with a will,
Talked of noble aims and high, hinted of a future fine
For the state of Kolazai, on a strictly Western line.

Rajah Rustum held his peace; lowered octroi dues a half;
Organized a State Police; purified the. Civil Staff;
Settled cess and tax afresh in a very liberal way;
Cut temptations of the flesh — also cut the Bukhshi’s pay;

Roused his Secretariat to a fine Mahratta fury,
By a Hookum hinting at supervision of dasturi;
Turned the State of Kolazai very nearly upside-down;
When the end of May was nigh, waited his achievement crown.

When the Birthday Honors came,
Sad to state and sad to see,
Stood against the Rajah’s name nothing more than C. I. E.!
. . . . .

Things were lively for a week in the State of Kolazai.
Even now the people speak of that time regretfully.

How he disendowed the Jail — stopped at once the City drain;
Turned to beauty fair and frail — got his senses back again;
Doubled taxes, cesses, all; cleared away each new-built thana;
Turned the two-lakh Hospital into a superb Zenana;

Heaped upon the Bukhshi Sahib wealth and honors manifold;
Clad himself in Eastern garb — squeezed his people as of old.

Happy, happy Kolazai! Never more will Rustum Beg
Play to catch the Viceroy’s eye. He prefers the “simpkin” peg.

The Story of Uriah

“Now there were two men in one city;
the one rich and the other poor.”

Jack Barrett went to Quetta
   Because they told him to.
He left his wife at Simla
   On three-fourths his monthly screw:
Jack Barrett died at Quetta
   Ere the next month’s pay he drew.

Jack Barrett went to Quetta.
   He didn’t understand
The reason of his transfer
   From the pleasant mountain-land:
The season was September,
   And it killed him out of hand.

Jack Barrett went to Quetta,
   And there gave up the ghost,
Attempting two men’s duty
   In that very healthy post;
And Mrs. Barrett mourned for him
   Five lively months at most.

Jack Barrett’s bones at Quetta
   Enjoy profound repose;
But I shouldn’t be astonished
   If now his spirit knows
The reason of his transfer
   From the Himalayan snows.

And, when the Last Great Bugle Call
   Adown the Hurnal throbs,
When the last grim joke is entered
   In the big black Book of Jobs,
And Quetta graveyards give again
   Their victims to the air,
I shouldn’t like to be the man
   Who sent Jack Barrett there.

The Post That Fitted

    Though tangled and twisted the course of true love
            This ditty explains,
    No tangle’s so tangled it cannot improve
            If the Lover has brains.

Ere the steamer bore him Eastward, Sleary was engaged to marry
An attractive girl at Tunbridge, whom he called “my little Carrie.”

Sleary’s pay was very modest; Sleary was the other way.
Who can cook a two-plate dinner on eight poor rupees a day?

Long he pondered o’er the question in his scantly furnished quarters —
Then proposed to Minnie Boffkin, eldest of Judge Boffkin’s daughters.

Certainly an impecunious Subaltern was not a catch,
But the Boffkins knew that Minnie mightn’t make another match.

So they recognised the business and, to feed and clothe the bride,
Got him made a Something Something somewhere on the Bombay side.

Anyhow, the billet carried pay enough for him to marry —
As the artless Sleary put it:—“Just the thing for me and Carrie.”

Did he, therefore, jilt Miss Boffkin — impulse of a baser mind?
No! He started epileptic fits of an appalling kind.

[Of his modus operandi only this much I could gather:—
“Pears’s shaving sticks will give you little taste and lots of lather.”]

Frequently in public places his affliction used to smite
Sleary with distressing vigour — always in the Boffkins’ sight.

Ere a week was over Minnie weepingly returned his ring,
Told him his “unhappy weakness” stopped all thought of marrying.

Sleary bore the information with a chastened holy joy —
Epileptic fits don’t matter in Political employ —
Wired three short words to Carrie — took his ticket, packed his kit —
Bade farewell to Minnie Boffkin in one last, long, lingering fit.

Four weeks later, Carrie Sleary read — and laughed until she wept —
Mrs. Boffkin’s warning letter on the “wretched epilept.” . . .

Year by year, in pious patience, vengeful Mrs. Boffkin sits
Waiting for the Sleary babies to develop Sleary’s fits.

Public Waste

  Walpole talks of “a man and his price.”
        List to a ditty queer —
  The sale of a Deputy–Acting-Vice–Resident-Engineer,
  Bought like a bullock, hoof and hide,
  By the Little Tin Gods on the Mountain Side.

By the Laws of the Family Circle ’tis written in letters of brass
That only a Colonel from Chatham can manage the Railways of State,
Because of the gold on his breeks, and the subjects wherein he must pass;
Because in all matters that deal not with Railways his knowledge is great.

Now Exeter Battleby Tring had laboured from boyhood to eld
On the Lines of the East and the West, and eke of the North and South;
Many Lines had he built and surveyed — important the posts which he held;
And the Lords of the Iron Horse were dumb when he opened his mouth.

Black as the raven his garb, and his heresies jettier still —
Hinting that Railways required lifetimes of study and knowledge —
Never clanked sword by his side — Vauban he knew not nor drill —
Nor was his name on the list of the men who had passed through the “College.”

Wherefore the Little Tin Gods harried their little tin souls,
Seeing he came not from Chatham, jingled no spurs at his heels,
Knowing that, nevertheless, was he first on the Government rolls
For the billet of “Railway Instructor to Little Tin Gods on Wheels.”

Letters not seldom they wrote him, “having the honour to state,”
It would be better for all men if he were laid on the shelf.
Much would accrue to his bank-book, an he consented to wait
Until the Little Tin Gods built him a berth for himself,

“Special, well paid, and exempt from the Law of the Fifty and Five,
Even to Ninety and Nine”— these were the terms of the pact:
Thus did the Little Tin Gods (long may Their Highnesses thrive!)
Silence his mouth with rupees, keeping their Circle intact;

Appointing a Colonel from Chatham who managed the Bhamo State Line
(The which was one mile and one furlong — a guaranteed twenty-inch gauge),
So Exeter Battleby Tring consented his claims to resign,
And died, on four thousand a month, in the ninetieth year of his age!

Delilah

We have another viceroy now — those days are dead and done
Of Delilah Aberyswith and depraved Ulysses Gunne.

Delilah Aberyswith was a lady — not too young —
With a perfect taste in dresses and a badly-bitted tongue,
With a thirst for information, and a greater thirst for praise,
And a little house in Simla in the Prehistoric Days.

By reason of her marriage to a gentleman in power,
Delilah was acquainted with the gossip of the hour;
And many little secrets, of the half-official kind,
Were whispered to Delilah, and she bore them all in mind.

She patronized extensively a man, Ulysses Gunne,
Whose mode of earning money was a low and shameful one.
He wrote for certain papers, which, as everybody knows,
Is worse than serving in a shop or scaring off the crows.

He praised her “queenly beauty” first; and, later on, he hinted
At the “vastness of her intellect” with compliment unstinted.
He went with her a-riding, and his love for her was such
That he lent her all his horses and — she galled them very much.

One day, THEY brewed a secret of a fine financial sort;
It related to Appointments, to a Man and a Report.
’Twas almost worth the keeping — only seven people knew it —
And Gunne rose up to seek the truth and patiently pursue it.

It was a Viceroy’s Secret, but — perhaps the wine was red —
Perhaps an Aged Councillor had lost his aged head —
Perhaps Delilah’s eyes were bright — Delilah’s whispers sweet —
The Aged Member told her what ’twere treason to repeat.

Ulysses went a-riding, and they talked of love and flowers;
Ulysses went a-calling, and he called for several hours;
Ulysses went a-waltzing, and Delilah helped him dance —
Ulysses let the waltzes go, and waited for his chance.

The summer sun was setting, and the summer air was still,
The couple went a-walking in the shade of Summer Hill.
The wasteful sunset faded out in Turkish-green and gold,
Ulysses pleaded softly, and — that bad Delilah told!

Next morn, a startled Empire learnt the all-important news;
Next week, the Aged Councillor was shaking in his shoes.
Next month, I met Delilah and she did not show the least
Hesitation in affirming that Ulysses was a “beast.”
            . . . . .

We have another Viceroy now, those days are dead and done —
Of Delilah Aberyswith and most mean Ulysses Gunne!

What Happened

Hurree Chunder Mookerjee, pride of Bow Bazaar,
Owner of a native press, “Barrishter-at-Lar,”
Waited on the Government with a claim to wear
Sabres by the bucketful, rifles by the pair.

Then the Indian Government winked a wicked wink,
Said to Chunder Mookerjee: “Stick to pen and ink.
They are safer implements, but, if you insist,
We will let you carry arms wheresoe’er you list.”

Hurree Chunder Mookerjee sought the gunsmith and
Bought the tubes of Lancaster, Ballard, Dean, and Bland,
Bought a shiny bowie-knife, bought a town-made sword,
Jingled like a carriage-horse when he went abroad.

But the Indian Government, always keen to please,
Also gave permission to horrid men like these —
Yar Mahommed Yusufzai, down to kill or steal,
Chimbu Singh from Bikaneer, Tantia the Bhil;

Killar Khan the Marri chief, Jowar Singh the Sikh,
Nubbee Baksh Punjabi Jat, Abdul Huq Rafiq —
He was a Wahabi; last, little Boh Hla-oo
Took advantage of the Act — took a Snider too.

They were unenlightened men, Ballard knew them not.
They procured their swords and guns chiefly on the spot;
And the lore of centuries, plus a hundred fights,
Made them slow to disregard one another’s rights.

With a unanimity dear to patriot hearts
All those hairy gentlemen out of foreign parts
Said: “The good old days are back — let us go to war!”
Swaggered down the Grand Trunk Road into Bow Bazaar,

Nubbee Baksh Punjabi Jat found a hide-bound flail;
Chimbu Singh from Bikaneer oiled his Tonk jezail;
Yar Mahommed Yusufzai spat and grinned with glee
As he ground the butcher-knife of the Khyberee.

Jowar Singh the Sikh procured sabre, quoit, and mace,
Abdul Huq, Wahabi, jerked his dagger from its place,
While amid the jungle-grass danced and grinned and jabbered
Little Boh Hla-oo and cleared his dah-blade from the scabbard.

What became of Mookerjee? Soothly, who can say?
Yar Mahommed only grins in a nasty way,
Jowar Singh is reticent, Chimbu Singh is mute.
But the belts of all of them simply bulge with loot.

What became of Ballard’s guns? Afghans black and grubby
Sell them for their silver weight to the men of Pubbi;
And the shiny bowie-knife and the town-made sword are
Hanging in a Marri camp just across the Border.

What became of Mookerjee? Ask Mahommed Yar
Prodding Siva’s sacred bull down the Bow Bazaar.
Speak to placid Nubbee Baksh — question land and sea —
Ask the Indian Congressmen — only don’t ask me!

Pink Dominoes

“They are fools who kiss and tell”—
  Wisely has the poet sung.
Man may hold all sorts of posts
  If he’ll only hold his tongue.

Jenny and Me were engaged, you see,
  On the eve of the Fancy Ball;
So a kiss or two was nothing to you
  Or any one else at all.

Jenny would go in a domino —
  Pretty and pink but warm;
While I attended, clad in a splendid
  Austrian uniform.

Now we had arranged, through notes exchanged
  Early that afternoon,
At Number Four to waltz no more,
  But to sit in the dusk and spoon.

I wish you to see that Jenny and Me
  Had barely exchanged our troth;
So a kiss or two was strictly due
  By, from, and between us both.

When Three was over, an eager lover,
  I fled to the gloom outside;
And a Domino came out also
  Whom I took for my future bride.

That is to say, in a casual way,
  I slipped my arm around her;
With a kiss or two (which is nothing to you),
  And ready to kiss I found her.

She turned her head and the name she said
  Was certainly not my own;
But ere I could speak, with a smothered shriek
  She fled and left me alone.

Then Jenny came, and I saw with shame
  She’d doffed her domino;
And I had embraced an alien waist —
  But I did not tell her so.

Next morn I knew that there were two
  Dominoes pink, and one
Had cloaked the spouse of Sir Julian House,
  Our big Political gun.

Sir J. was old, and her hair was gold,
  And her eye was a blue cerulean;
And the name she said when she turned her head
  Was not in the least like “Julian.”

The Man Who Could Write

Shun — shun the Bowl! That fatal, facile drink
  Has ruined many geese who dipped their quills in ‘t;
Bribe, murder, marry, but steer clear of Ink
  Save when you write receipts for paid-up bills in ‘t.

There may be silver in the “blue-black”— all
I know of is the iron and the gall.

Boanerges Blitzen, servant of the Queen,
Is a dismal failure — is a Might-have-been.
In a luckless moment he discovered men
Rise to high position through a ready pen.
Boanerges Blitzen argued therefore —“I,
With the selfsame weapon, can attain as high.”
Only he did not possess when he made the trial,
Wicked wit of C-lv-n, irony of L— l.

[Men who spar with Government need, to back their blows,
Something more than ordinary journalistic prose.]

Never young Civilian’s prospects were so bright,
Till an Indian paper found that he could write:
Never young Civilian’s prospects were so dark,
When the wretched Blitzen wrote to make his mark.
Certainly he scored it, bold, and black, and firm,
In that Indian paper — made his seniors squirm,
Quoted office scandals, wrote the tactless truth —
Was there ever known a more misguided youth?
When the Rag he wrote for praised his plucky game,
Boanerges Blitzen felt that this was Fame;
When the men he wrote of shook their heads and swore,
Boanerges Blitzen only wrote the more:

Posed as Young Ithuriel, resolute and grim,
Till he found promotion didn’t come to him;
Till he found that reprimands weekly were his lot,
And his many Districts curiously hot.

Till he found his furlough strangely hard to win,
Boanerges Blitzen didn’t care to pin:
Then it seemed to dawn on him something wasn’t right —
Boanerges Blitzen put it down to “spite”;

Languished in a District desolate and dry;
Watched the Local Government yearly pass him by;
Wondered where the hitch was; called it most unfair.
. . .  . . . . .

That was seven years ago — and he still is there!

Municipal

        “Why is my District death-rate low?”
          Said Binks of Hezabad.
        “Well, drains, and sewage-outfalls are
          “My own peculiar fad.

        “I learnt a lesson once, It ran
        “Thus,” quoth that most veracious man:—

It was an August evening and, in snowy garments clad,
I paid a round of visits in the lines of Hezabad;
When, presently, my Waler saw, and did not like at all,
A Commissariat elephant careering down the Mall.

I couldn’t see the driver, and across my mind it rushed
That that Commissariat elephant had suddenly gone musth.

I didn’t care to meet him, and I couldn’t well get down,
So I let the Waler have it, and we headed for the town.

The buggy was a new one and, praise Dykes, it stood the strain,
Till the Waler jumped a bullock just above the City Drain;
And the next that I remember was a hurricane of squeals,
And the creature making toothpicks of my five-foot patent wheels.

He seemed to want the owner, so I fled, distraught with fear,
To the Main Drain sewage-outfall while he snorted in my ear —
Reached the four-foot drain-head safely and, in darkness and despair,
Felt the brute’s proboscis fingering my terror-stiffened hair.

Heard it trumpet on my shoulder — tried to crawl a little higher —
Found the Main Drain sewage outfall blocked, some eight feet up, with mire;
And, for twenty reeking minutes, Sir, my very marrow froze,
While the trunk was feeling blindly for a purchase on my toes!

It missed me by a fraction, but my hair was turning grey
Before they called the drivers up and dragged the brute away.

Then I sought the City Elders, and my words were very plain.
They flushed that four-foot drain-head and — it never choked again!

You may hold with surface-drainage, and the sun-for-garbage cure,
Till you’ve been a periwinkle shrinking coyly up a sewer.

I believe in well-flushed culverts . . . .

                                  This is why the death-rate’s small;
And, if you don’t believe me, get shikarred yourself. That’s all.

A Code of Morals

         Lest you should think this story true
         I merely mention I
         Evolved it lately. ’Tis a most
         Unmitigated misstatement.

Now Jones had left his new-wed bride to keep his house in order,
And hied away to the Hurrum Hills above the Afghan border,
To sit on a rock with a heliograph; but ere he left he taught
His wife the working of the Code that sets the miles at naught.

And Love had made him very sage, as Nature made her fair;
So Cupid and Apollo linked, per heliograph, the pair.
At dawn, across the Hurrum Hills, he flashed her counsel wise —
At e’en, the dying sunset bore her husband’s homilies.

He warned her ‘gainst seductive youths in scarlet clad and gold,
As much as ‘gainst the blandishments paternal of the old;
But kept his gravest warnings for (hereby the ditty hangs)
That snowy-haired Lothario, Lieutenant–General Bangs.

’Twas General Bangs, with Aide and Staff, who tittupped on the way,
When they beheld a heliograph tempestuously at play.
They thought of Border risings, and of stations sacked and burnt —
So stopped to take the message down — and this is what they learnt —

“Dash dot dot, dot, dot dash, dot dash dot” twice. The General swore.

“Was ever General Officer addressed as ‘dear’ before?
“‘My Love,’ i’ faith! ‘My Duck,’ Gadzooks! ‘My darling popsy-wop!’
“Spirit of great Lord Wolseley, who is on that mountaintop?”

The artless Aide-decamp was mute; the gilded Staff were still,
As, dumb with pent-up mirth, they booked that message from the hill;
For clear as summer lightning-flare, the husband’s warning ran:—
“Don’t dance or ride with General Bangs — a most immoral man.”

[At dawn, across the Hurrum Hills, he flashed her counsel wise —
But, howsoever Love be blind, the world at large hath eyes.]
With damnatory dot and dash he heliographed his wife
Some interesting details of the General’s private life.

The artless Aide-decamp was mute, the shining Staff were still,
And red and ever redder grew the General’s shaven gill.

And this is what he said at last (his feelings matter not):—
“I think we’ve tapped a private line. Hi! Threes about there! Trot!”

All honour unto Bangs, for ne’er did Jones thereafter know
By word or act official who read off that helio.

But the tale is on the Frontier, and from Michni to Mooltan
They know the worthy General as “that most immoral man.”

The Last Department

Twelve hundred million men are spread
 About this Earth, and I and You
Wonder, when You and I are dead,
 “What will those luckless millions do?”

None whole or clean,” we cry, “or free from stain
Of favour.” Wait awhile, till we attain
  The Last Department where nor fraud nor fools,
Nor grade nor greed, shall trouble us again.

Fear, Favour, or Affection — what are these
To the grim Head who claims our services?
  I never knew a wife or interest yet
Delay that pukka step, miscalled “decease”;

When leave, long overdue, none can deny;
When idleness of all Eternity
  Becomes our furlough, and the marigold
Our thriftless, bullion-minting Treasury

Transferred to the Eternal Settlement,
Each in his strait, wood-scantled office pent,
  No longer Brown reverses Smith’s appeals,
Or Jones records his Minute of Dissent.

And One, long since a pillar of the Court,
As mud between the beams thereof is wrought;
  And One who wrote on phosphates for the crops
Is subject-matter of his own Report.

These be the glorious ends whereto we pass —
Let Him who Is, go call on Him who Was;
  And He shall see the mallie steals the slab
For currie-grinder, and for goats the grass.

A breath of wind, a Border bullet’s flight,
A draught of water, or a horse’s fright —
  The droning of the fat Sheristadar
Ceases, the punkah stops, and falls the night

For you or Me. Do those who live decline
The step that offers, or their work resign?
  Trust me, Today’s Most Indispensables,
Five hundred men can take your place or mine.

The Ballad of Fisher’s Boarding-House

        That night, when through the mooring-chains
            The wide-eyed corpse rolled free,
          To blunder down by Garden Reach
            And rot at Kedgeree,
          The tale the Hughli told the shoal
            The lean shoal told to me.

‘T was Fultah Fisher’s boarding-house,
  Where sailor-men reside,
And there were men of all the ports
  From Mississip to Clyde,
And regally they spat and smoked,
  And fearsomely they lied.

They lied about the purple Sea
  That gave them scanty bread,
They lied about the Earth beneath,
  The Heavens overhead,
For they had looked too often on
  Black rum when that was red.

They told their tales of wreck and wrong,
  Of shame and lust and fraud,
They backed their toughest statements with
  The Brimstone of the Lord,
And crackling oaths went to and fro
  Across the fist-banged board.

And there was Hans the blue-eyed Dane,
  Bull-throated, bare of arm,
Who carried on his hairy chest
  The maid Ultruda’s charm —
The little silver crucifix
  That keeps a man from harm.

And there was Jake Without-the-Ears,
  And Pamba the Malay,
And Carboy Gin the Guinea cook,
  And Luz from Vigo Bay,
And Honest Jack who sold them slops
  And harvested their pay.

And there was Salem Hardieker,
  A lean Bostonian he —
Russ, German, English, Halfbreed, Finn,
  Yank, Dane, and Portuguee,
At Fultah Fisher’s boarding-house
  They rested from the sea.

Now Anne of Austria shared their drinks,
  Collinga knew her fame,
From Tarnau in Galicia
  To Juan Bazaar she came,
To eat the bread of infamy
  And take the wage of shame.

She held a dozen men to heel —
  Rich spoil of war was hers,
In hose and gown and ring and chain,
  From twenty mariners,
And, by Port Law, that week, men called
  her Salem Hardieker’s.

But seamen learnt — what landsmen know —
  That neither gifts nor gain
Can hold a winking Light o’ Love
  Or Fancy’s flight restrain,
When Anne of Austria rolled her eyes
  On Hans the blue-eyed Dane.

Since Life is strife, and strife means knife,
  From Howrah to the Bay,
And he may die before the dawn
  Who liquored out the day,
In Fultah Fisher’s boarding-house
  We woo while yet we may.

But cold was Hans the blue-eyed Dane,
  Bull-throated, bare of arm,
And laughter shook the chest beneath
  The maid Ultruda’s charm —
The little silver crucifix
  That keeps a man from harm.

“You speak to Salem Hardieker;
  “You was his girl, I know.

“I ship mineselfs tomorrow, see,
  “Und round the Skaw we go,
“South, down the Cattegat, by Hjelm,
  “To Besser in Saro.”

When love rejected turns to hate,
  All ill betide the man.

“You speak to Salem Hardieker”—
  She spoke as woman can.
A scream — a sob —“He called me — names!”
  And then the fray began.

An oath from Salem Hardieker,
  A shriek upon the stairs,
A dance of shadows on the wall,
  A knife-thrust unawares —
And Hans came down, as cattle drop,
  Across the broken chairs.
. . . . .

In Anne of Austria’s trembling hands
  The weary head fell low:—
“I ship mineselfs tomorrow, straight
  “For Besser in Saro;
“Und there Ultruda comes to me
  “At Easter, und I go —

“South, down the Cattegat — What’s here?
  “There — are — no — lights — to guide!”
The mutter ceased, the spirit passed,
  And Anne of Austria cried
In Fultah Fisher’s boarding-house
  When Hans the mighty died.

Thus slew they Hans the blue-eyed Dane,
  Bull-throated, bare of arm,
But Anne of Austria looted first
  The maid Ultruda’s charm —
The little silver crucifix
  That keeps a man from harm.

As the Bell Clinks

As I left the Halls at Lumley, rose the vision of a comely
Maid last season worshipped dumbly, watched with fervor from afar;
And I wondered idly, blindly, if the maid would greet me kindly.

That was all — the rest was settled by the clinking tonga-bar.
Yea, my life and hers were coupled by the tonga coupling-bar.

For my misty meditation, at the second changin’-station,
Suffered sudden dislocation, fled before the tuneless jar
Of a Wagner obbligato, scherzo, doublehand staccato,
Played on either pony’s saddle by the clacking tonga-bar —

Played with human speech, I fancied, by the jigging, jolting bar.

“She was sweet,” thought I, “last season, but ’twere surely wild unreason
Such tiny hope to freeze on as was offered by my Star,
When she whispered, something sadly: ‘I— we feel your going badly!’”
“And you let the chance escape you?” rapped the rattling tonga-bar.

“What a chance and what an idiot!” clicked the vicious tonga-bar.

Heart of man — oh, heart of putty! Had I gone by Kakahutti,
On the old Hill-road and rutty, I had ‘scaped that fatal car.
But his fortune each must bide by, so I watched the milestones slide by,
To “You call on Her tomorrow!”— fugue with cymbals by the bar —

“You must call on Her tomorrow!”— post-horn gallop by the bar.

Yet a further stage my goal on — we were whirling down to Solon,
With a double lurch and roll on, best foot foremost, ganz und gar —
“She was very sweet,” I hinted. “If a kiss had been imprinted?”—
“‘Would ha’ saved a world of trouble!” clashed the busy tonga-bar.

“‘Been accepted or rejected!” banged and clanged the tonga-bar.

Then a notion wild and daring, ‘spite the income tax’s paring,
And a hasty thought of sharing — less than many incomes are,
Made me put a question private, you can guess what I would drive at.
“You must work the sum to prove it,” clanked the careless tonga-bar.

“Simple Rule of Two will prove it,” lilted back the tonga-bar.

It was under Khyraghaut I mused. “Suppose the maid be haughty —
(There are lovers rich — and rotty)— wait some wealthy Avatar?
Answer monitor untiring, ‘twixt the ponies twain perspiring!”
“Faint heart never won fair lady,” creaked the straining tonga-bar.

“Can I tell you ere you ask Her?” pounded slow the tonga-bar.

Last, the Tara Devi turning showed the lights of Simla burning,
Lit my little lazy yearning to a fiercer flame by far.

As below the Mall we jingled, through my very heart it tingled —
Did the iterated order of the threshing tonga-bar —

“Try your luck — you can’t do better!” twanged the loosened tonga-bar.

An Old Song

So long as ‘neath the Kalka hills
  The tonga-horn shall ring,
So long as down the Solon dip
  The hard-held ponies swing,
So long as Tara Devi sees
  The lights of Simla town,
So long as Pleasure calls us up,
  Or Duty drives us down,
    If you love me as I love you
    What pair so happy as we two?

So long as Aces take the King,
  Or backers take the bet,
So long as debt leads men to wed,
  Or marriage leads to debt,
So long as little luncheons, Love,
  And scandal hold their vogue,
While there is sport at Annandale
  Or whisky at Jutogh,
    If you love me as I love you
    What knife can cut our love in two?

So long as down the rocking floor
  The raving polka spins,
So long as Kitchen Lancers spur
  The maddened violins,
So long as through the whirling smoke
  We hear the oft-told tale —
“Twelve hundred in the Lotteries,”
  And Whatshername for sale?
    If you love me as I love you
    We’ll play the game and win it too.

So long as Lust or Lucre tempt
  Straight riders from the course,
So long as with each drink we pour
  Black brewage of Remorse,
So long as those unloaded guns
  We keep beside the bed,
Blow off, by obvious accident,
  The lucky owner’s head,
    If you love me as I love you
    What can Life kill or Death undo?

So long as Death ‘twixt dance and dance
  Chills best and bravest blood,
And drops the reckless rider down
  The rotten, rain-soaked khud,
So long as rumours from the North
  Make loving wives afraid,
So long as Burma takes the boy
  Or typhoid kills the maid,
    If you love me as I love you
    What knife can cut our love in two?

By all that lights our daily life
  Or works our lifelong woe,
From Boileaugunge to Simla Downs
  And those grim glades below,
Where, heedless of the flying hoof
  And clamour overhead,
Sleep, with the grey langur for guard
  Our very scornful Dead,
    If you love me as I love you
    All Earth is servant to us two!

By Docket, Billetdoux, and File,
  By Mountain, Cliff, and Fir,
By Fan and Sword and Office-box,
  By Corset, Plume, and Spur
By Riot, Revel, Waltz, and War,
  By Women, Work, and Bills,
By all the life that fizzes in
  The everlasting Hills,
    If you love me as I love you
    What pair so happy as we two?

Certain Maxims of Hafiz

I.

If It be pleasant to look on, stalled in the packed serai,
Does not the Young Man try Its temper and pace ere he buy?
If She be pleasant to look on, what does the Young Man say?
“Lo! She is pleasant to look on, give Her to me today!”

II.

Yea, though a Kafir die, to him is remitted Jehannum
If he borrowed in life from a native at sixty per cent. per annum.

III.

Blister we not for bursati? So when the heart is vexed,
The pain of one maiden’s refusal is drowned in the pain of the next.

IV.

The temper of chums, the love of your wife, and a new piano’s tune —
Which of the three will you trust at the end of an Indian June?

V.

Who are the rulers of Ind — to whom shall we bow the knee?
Make your peace with the women, and men will make you L. G.

VI.

Does the woodpecker flit round the young ferash?
Does grass clothe a new-built wall?
Is she under thirty, the woman who holds a boy in her thrall?

VII.

If She grow suddenly gracious — reflect. Is it all for thee?
The black-buck is stalked through the bullock, and Man through jealousy.

VIII.

Seek not for favor of women. So shall you find it indeed.
Does not the boar break cover just when you’re lighting a weed?

IX.

If He play, being young and unskilful, for shekels of silver and gold,
Take his money, my son, praising Allah. The kid was ordained to be sold.

X.

With a “weed” among men or horses verily this is the best,
That you work him in office or dog-cart lightly — but give him no rest.

XI.

Pleasant the snaffle of Courtship, improving the manners and carriage;
But the colt who is wise will abstain from the terrible thorn-bit of Marriage.

XII.

As the thriftless gold of the babul, so is the gold that we spend
On a derby Sweep, or our neighbor’s wife, or the horse that we buy from a
friend.

XIII.

The ways of man with a maid be strange, yet simple and tame
To the ways of a man with a horse, when selling or racing that same.

XIV.

In public Her face turneth to thee, and pleasant Her smile when ye meet.
It is ill. The cold rocks of El–Gidar smile thus on the waves at their feet.

In public Her face is averted, with anger. She nameth thy name.
It is well. Was there ever a loser content with the loss of the game?

XV.

If She have spoken a word, remember thy lips are sealed,
And the Brand of the Dog is upon him by whom is the secret revealed.

If She have written a letter, delay not an instant, but burn it.
Tear it to pieces, O Fool, and the wind to her mate shall return it!

If there be trouble to Herward, and a lie of the blackest can clear,
Lie, while thy lips can move or a man is alive to hear.

XVI.

My Son, if a maiden deny thee and scufflingly bid thee give o’er,
Yet lip meets with lip at the last word — get out!
  She has been there before.
They are pecked on the ear and the chin and the nose who are lacking in lore.

XVII.

If we fall in the race, though we win, the hoof-slide is scarred on the
course.
Though Allah and Earth pardon Sin, remaineth forever Remorse.

XVIII.

“By all I am misunderstood!” if the Matron shall say, or the Maid:
“Alas! I do not understand,” my son, be thou nowise afraid.

In vain in the sight of the Bird is the net of the Fowler displayed.

XIX.

My son, if I, Hafiz, the father, take hold of thy knees in my pain,
Demanding thy name on stamped paper, one day or one hour — refrain.

Are the links of thy fetters so light that thou cravest another man’s chain?

The Grave of the Hundred Head

There’s a widow in sleepy Chester
  Who weeps for her only son;
There’s a grave on the Pabeng River,
  A grave that the Burmans shun,
And there’s Subadar Prag Tewarri
  Who tells how the work was done.

A Snider squibbed in the jungle,
  Somebody laughed and fled,
And the men of the First Shikaris
  Picked up their Subaltern dead,
With a big blue mark in his forehead
  And the back blown out of his head.

Subadar Prag Tewarri,
  Jemadar Hira Lal,
Took command of the party,
  Twenty rifles in all,
Marched them down to the river
  As the day was beginning to fall.

They buried the boy by the river,
  A blanket over his face —
They wept for their dead Lieutenant,
  The men of an alien race —
They made a samadh in his honor,
  A mark for his resting-place.

For they swore by the Holy Water,
  They swore by the salt they ate,
That the soul of Lieutenant Eshmitt Sahib
  Should go to his God in state;
With fifty file of Burman
  To open him Heaven’s gate.

The men of the First Shikaris
  Marched till the break of day,
Till they came to the rebel village,
  The village of Pabengmay —
A jingal covered the clearing,
  Calthrops hampered the way.

Subadar Prag Tewarri,
  Bidding them load with ball,
Halted a dozen rifles
  Under the village wall;
Sent out a flanking-party
  With Jemadar Hira Lal.

The men of the First Shikaris
  Shouted and smote and slew,
Turning the grinning jingal
  On to the howling crew.
The Jemadar’s flanking-party
  Butchered the folk who flew.

Long was the morn of slaughter,
  Long was the list of slain,
Five score heads were taken,
  Five score heads and twain;
And the men of the First Shikaris
  Went back to their grave again,

Each man bearing a basket
  Red as his palms that day,
Red as the blazing village —
  The village of Pabengmay,
And the “drip-drip-drip” from the baskets
  Reddened the grass by the way.

They made a pile of their trophies
  High as a tall man’s chin,
Head upon head distorted,
  Set in a sightless grin,
Anger and pain and terror
  Stamped on the smoke-scorched skin.

Subadar Prag Tewarri
  Put the head of the Boh
On the top of the mound of triumph,
  The head of his son below,
With the sword and the peacock-banner
  That the world might behold and know.

Thus the samadh was perfect,
  Thus was the lesson plain
Of the wrath of the First Shikaris —
  The price of a white man slain;
And the men of the First Shikaris
  Went back into camp again.

Then a silence came to the river,
  A hush fell over the shore,
And Bohs that were brave departed,
  And Sniders squibbed no more;
    For the Burmans said
    That a kullah’s head
Must be paid for with heads five score.

There’s a widow in sleepy Chester
  Who weeps for her only son;
There’s a grave on the Pabeng River,
  A grave that the Burmans shun,
And there’s Subadar Prag Tewarri
  Who tells how the work was done.

The Moon of Other Days

Beneath the deep veranda’s shade,
  When bats begin to fly,
I sit me down and watch — alas! —
  Another evening die.

Blood-red behind the sere ferash
  She rises through the haze.
Sainted Diana! can that be
  The Moon of Other Days?

Ah! shade of little Kitty Smith,
  Sweet Saint of Kensington!
Say, was it ever thus at Home
  The Moon of August shone,
When arm in arm we wandered long
  Through Putney’s evening haze,
And Hammersmith was Heaven beneath
  The Moon of Other Days?

But Wandle’s stream is Sutlej now,
  And Putney’s evening haze
The dust that half a hundred kine
  Before my window raise.
Unkempt, unclean, athwart the mist
  The seething city looms,
In place of Putney’s golden gorse
  The sickly babul blooms.

Glare down, old Hecate, through the dust,
  And bid the pie-dog yell,
Draw from the drain its typhoid-germ,
  From each bazaar its smell;
Yea, suck the fever from the tank
  And sap my strength therewith:
Thank Heaven, you show a smiling face
  To little Kitty Smith!

The Overland Mail

(Foot–Service to the Hills)

In the name of the Empress of India, make way,
  O Lords of the Jungle, wherever you roam.
The woods are astir at the close of the day —
  We exiles are waiting for letters from Home.
Let the robber retreat — let the tiger turn tail —
In the Name of the Empress, the Overland Mail!

With a jingle of bells as the dusk gathers in,
  He turns to the foot-path that heads up the hill —
The bags on his back and a cloth round his chin,
  And, tucked in his waist-belt, the Post Office bill:
“Despatched on this date, as received by the rail,
Per runner, two bags of the Overland Mail.”

Is the torrent in spate? He must ford it or swim.
  Has the rain wrecked the road? He must climb by the cliff.
Does the tempest cry “Halt”? What are tempests to him?
  The Service admits not a “but” or and “if.”
While the breath’s in his mouth, he must bear without fail,
In the Name of the Empress, the Overland Mail.

From aloe to rose-oak, from rose-oak to fir,
  From level to upland, from upland to crest,
From rice-field to rock-ridge, from rock-ridge to spur,
  Fly the soft sandalled feet, strains the brawny brown chest.
From rail to ravine — to the peak from the vale —
Up, up through the night goes the Overland Mail.

There’s a speck on the hillside, a dot on the road —
  A jingle of bells on the foot-path below —
There’s a scuffle above in the monkey’s abode —
  The world is awake, and the clouds are aglow.

For the great Sun himself must attend to the hail:
“In the name of the Empress the Overland Mail!”

What the People Said

June 21st, 1887

By the well, where the bullocks go
Silent and blind and slow —
By the field where the young corn dies
In the face of the sultry skies,
They have heard, as the dull Earth hears
The voice of the wind of an hour,
The sound of the Great Queen’s voice:
“My God hath given me years,
Hath granted dominion and power:
And I bid you, O Land, rejoice.”

And the ploughman settles the share
More deep in the grudging clod;
For he saith: “The wheat is my care,
And the rest is the will of God.

“He sent the Mahratta spear
As He sendeth the rain,
And the Mlech, in the fated year,
Broke the spear in twain.

“And was broken in turn. Who knows
How our Lords make strife?
It is good that the young wheat grows,
For the bread is Life.”

Then, far and near, as the twilight drew,
Hissed up to the scornful dark
Great serpents, blazing, of red and blue,
That rose and faded, and rose anew.

That the Land might wonder and mark
“Today is a day of days,” they said,
“Make merry, O People, all!”
And the Ploughman listened and bowed his head:
“Today and tomorrow God’s will,” he said,
As he trimmed the lamps on the wall.

“He sendeth us years that are good,
As He sendeth the dearth,
He giveth to each man his food,
Or Her food to the Earth.

“Our Kings and our Queens are afar —
On their peoples be peace —
God bringeth the rain to the Bar,
That our cattle increase.”

And the Ploughman settled the share
More deep in the sun-dried clod:
“Mogul Mahratta, and Mlech from the North,
And White Queen over the Seas —
God raiseth them up and driveth them forth
As the dust of the ploughshare flies in the breeze;
But the wheat and the cattle are all my care,
And the rest is the will of God.”

The Undertaker’s Horse

“To-tschin-shu is condemned to death.
How can he drink tea with the Executioner?”
Japanese Proverb.

The eldest son bestrides him,
And the pretty daughter rides him,
And I meet him oft o’ mornings on the Course;
And there kindles in my bosom
An emotion chill and gruesome
As I canter past the Undertaker’s Horse.

Neither shies he nor is restive,
But a hideously suggestive
Trot, professional and placid, he affects;
And the cadence of his hoof-beats
To my mind this grim reproof beats:—
“Mend your pace, my friend, I’m coming. Who’s the next?”

Ah! stud-bred of ill-omen,
I have watched the strongest go — men
Of pith and might and muscle — at your heels,
Down the plantain-bordered highway,
(Heaven send it ne’er be my way!)
In a lacquered box and jetty upon wheels.

Answer, sombre beast and dreary,
Where is Brown, the young, the cheery,
Smith, the pride of all his friends and half the Force?
You were at that last dread dak
We must cover at a walk,
Bring them back to me, O Undertaker’s Horse!

With your mane unhogged and flowing,
And your curious way of going,
And that businesslike black crimping of your tail,
E’en with Beauty on your back, Sir,
Pacing as a lady’s hack, Sir,
What wonder when I meet you I turn pale?

It may be you wait your time, Beast,
Till I write my last bad rhyme, Beast —
Quit the sunlight, cut the rhyming, drop the glass —
Follow after with the others,
Where some dusky heathen smothers
Us with marigolds in lieu of English grass.

Or, perchance, in years to follow,
I shall watch your plump sides hollow,
See Carnifex (gone lame) become a corse —
See old age at last o’erpower you,
And the Station Pack devour you,
I shall chuckle then, O Undertaker’s Horse!

But to insult, jibe, and quest, I’ve
Still the hideously suggestive
Trot that hammers out the unrelenting text,
And I hear it hard behind me
In what place soe’er I find me:—
“‘Sure to catch you sooner or later. Who’s the next?”

The Fall of Jock Gillespie

This fell when dinner-time was done —
  ‘Twixt the first an’ the second rub —
That oor mon Jock cam’ hame again
  To his rooms ahist the Club.

An’ syne he laughed, an’ syne he sang,
  An’ syne we thocht him fou,
An’ syne he trumped his partner’s trick,
  An’ garred his partner rue.

Then up and spake an elder mon,
  That held the Spade its Ace —
“God save the lad! Whence comes the licht
  “That wimples on his face?”

An’ Jock he sniggered, an’ Jock he smiled,
  An’ ower the card-brim wunk:—
“I’m a’ too fresh fra’ the stirrup-peg,
  “May be that I am drunk.”

“There’s whusky brewed in Galashils
  “An’ L. L. L. forbye;
“But never liquor lit the lowe
  “That keeks fra’ oot your eye.

“There’s a third o’ hair on your dress-coat breast,
  “Aboon the heart a wee?”
“Oh! that is fra’ the lang-haired Skye
  “That slobbers ower me.”

“Oh! lang-haired Skyes are lovin’ beasts,
  “An’ terrier dogs are fair,
“But never yet was terrier born,
  “Wi’ ell-lang gowden hair!

“There’s a smirch o’ pouther on your breast,
  “Below the left lappel?”
“Oh! that is fra’ my auld cigar,
  “Whenas the stump-end fell.”

“Mon Jock, ye smoke the Trichi coarse,
  “For ye are short o’ cash,
“An’ best Havanas couldna leave
  “Sae white an’ pure an ash.

“This nicht ye stopped a story braid,
  “An’ stopped it wi’ a curse.
“Last nicht ye told that tale yoursel’—
  “An’ capped it wi’ a worse!

“Oh! we’re no fou! Oh! we’re no fou!
  “But plainly we can ken
“Ye’re fallin’, fallin’ fra the band
  “O’ cantie single men!”

An’ it fell when sirris-shaws were sere,
  An’ the nichts were lang and mirk,
In braw new breeks, wi’ a gowden ring,
  Oor Jock gaed to the Kirk!

Arithmetic on the Frontier

A great and glorious thing it is
  To learn, for seven years or so,
The Lord knows what of that and this,
  Ere reckoned fit to face the foe —
The flying bullet down the Pass,
That whistles clear: “All flesh is grass.”

Three hundred pounds per annum spent
  On making brain and body meeter
For all the murderous intent
  Comprised in “villainous saltpetre!”
And after — ask the Yusufzaies
What comes of all our ‘ologies.

A scrimmage in a Border Station —
  A canter down some dark defile —
Two thousand pounds of education
  Drops to a ten-rupee jezail —
The Crammer’s boast, the Squadron’s pride,
Shot like a rabbit in a ride!

No proposition Euclid wrote,
  No formulae the text-books know,
Will turn the bullet from your coat,
  Or ward the tulwar’s downward blow
Strike hard who cares — shoot straight who can —
The odds are on the cheaper man.

One sword-knot stolen from the camp
  Will pay for all the school expenses
Of any Kurrum Valley scamp
  Who knows no word of moods and tenses,
But, being blessed with perfect sight,
Picks off our messmates left and right.

With home-bred hordes the hillsides teem,
  The troop-ships bring us one by one,
At vast expense of time and steam,
  To slay Afridis where they run.

The “captives of our bow and spear”
Are cheap — alas! as we are dear.

The Betrothed

“You must choose between me and your cigar.”
       — BREACH OF PROMISE CASE, CIRCA 1885.

Open the old cigar-box, get me a Cuba stout,
For things are running crossways, and Maggie and I are out.

We quarrelled about Havanas — we fought o’er a good cheroot,
And I knew she is exacting, and she says I am a brute.

Open the old cigar-box — let me consider a space;
In the soft blue veil of the vapour musing on Maggie’s face.

Maggie is pretty to look at — Maggie’s a loving lass,
But the prettiest cheeks must wrinkle, the truest of loves must pass.

There’s peace in a Larranaga, there’s calm in a Henry Clay;
But the best cigar in an hour is finished and thrown away —

Thrown away for another as perfect and ripe and brown —
But I could not throw away Maggie for fear o’ the talk o’ the town!

Maggie, my wife at fifty — grey and dour and old —
With never another Maggie to purchase for love or gold!

And the light of Days that have Been the dark of the Days that Are,
And Love’s torch stinking and stale, like the butt of a dead cigar —

The butt of a dead cigar you are bound to keep in your pocket —
With never a new one to light tho’ it’s charred and black to the socket!

Open the old cigar-box — let me consider a while.
Here is a mild Manila — there is a wifely smile.

Which is the better portion — bondage bought with a ring,
Or a harem of dusky beauties, fifty tied in a string?

Counsellors cunning and silent — comforters true and tried,
And never a one of the fifty to sneer at a rival bride?

Thought in the early morning, solace in time of woes,
Peace in the hush of the twilight, balm ere my eyelids close,

This will the fifty give me, asking nought in return,
With only a Suttee’s passion — to do their duty and burn.

This will the fifty give me. When they are spent and dead,
Five times other fifties shall be my servants instead.

The furrows of far-off Java, the isles of the Spanish Main,
When they hear my harem is empty will send me my brides again.

I will take no heed to their raiment, nor food for their mouths withal,
So long as the gulls are nesting, so long as the showers fall.

I will scent ’em with best vanilla, with tea will I temper their hides,
And the Moor and the Mormon shall envy who read of the tale of my brides.

For Maggie has written a letter to give me my choice between
The wee little whimpering Love and the great god Nick o’ Teen.

And I have been servant of Love for barely a twelvemonth clear,
But I have been Priest of Cabanas a matter of seven year;

And the gloom of my bachelor days is flecked with the cheery light
Of stumps that I burned to Friendship and Pleasure and Work and Fight.

And I turn my eyes to the future that Maggie and I must prove,
But the only light on the marshes is the Will-o’-the-Wisp of Love.

Will it see me safe through my journey or leave me bogged in the mire?
Since a puff of tobacco can cloud it, shall I follow the fitful fire?

Open the old cigar-box — let me consider anew —
Old friends, and who is Maggie that I should abandon you?

A million surplus Maggies are willing to bear the yoke;
And a woman is only a woman, but a good Cigar is a Smoke.

Light me another Cuba — I hold to my first-sworn vows.
If Maggie will have no rival, I’ll have no Maggie for Spouse!

A Tale of Two Cities

Where the sober-colored cultivator smiles
    On his byles;
Where the cholera, the cyclone, and the crow
    Come and go;
Where the merchant deals in indigo and tea,
    Hides and ghi;
Where the Babu drops inflammatory hints
    In his prints;
Stands a City — Charnock chose it — packed away
    Near a Bay —
By the Sewage rendered fetid, by the sewer
    Made impure,
By the Sunderbunds unwholesome, by the swamp
    Moist and damp;
And the City and the Viceroy, as we see,
    Don’t agree.

Once, two hundred years ago, the trader came
    Meek and tame.

Where his timid foot first halted, there he stayed,
    Till mere trade
Grew to Empire, and he sent his armies forth
    South and North
Till the country from Peshawur to Ceylon
    Was his own.

Thus the midday halt of Charnock — more’s the pity!
    Grew a City.

As the fungus sprouts chaotic from its bed,
    So it spread —
Chance-directed, chance-erected, laid and built
    On the silt —
Palace, byre, hovel — poverty and pride —
    Side by side;
And, above the packed and pestilential town,
    Death looked down.

But the Rulers in that City by the Sea
    Turned to flee —
Fled, with each returning spring-tide from its ills
    To the Hills.

From the clammy fogs of morning, from the blaze
    Of old days,
From the sickness of the noontide, from the heat,
    Beat retreat;
For the country from Peshawur to Ceylon
    Was their own.

But the Merchant risked the perils of the Plain
    For his gain.

Now the resting-place of Charnock, ‘neath the palms,
    Asks an alms,
And the burden of its lamentation is,
    Briefly, this:
“Because for certain months, we boil and stew,
    So should you.

“Cast the Viceroy and his Council, to perspire
    In our fire!”
And for answer to the argument, in vain
    We explain
That an amateur Saint Lawrence cannot fry:
    “All must fry!”
That the Merchant risks the perils of the Plain
    For gain.

Nor can Rulers rule a house that men grow rich in,
    From its kitchen.

Let the Babu drop inflammatory hints
  In his prints;
And mature — consistent soul — his plan for stealing
  To Darjeeling:
Let the Merchant seek, who makes his silver pile,
    England’s isle;
Let the City Charnock pitched on — evil day!
    Go Her way.

Though the argosies of Asia at Her doors
    Heap their stores,
Though Her enterprise and energy secure
    Income sure,
Though “out-station orders punctually obeyed”
    Swell Her trade —
Still, for rule, administration, and the rest,
    Simla’s best.

Ballads

The Ballad of East and West

  Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
  Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
  But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
  When two strong men stand face to face,
       tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!

Kamal is out with twenty men to raise the Border-side,
And he has lifted the Colonel’s mare that is the Colonel’s pride:
He has lifted her out of the stable-door between the dawn and the day,
And turned the calkins upon her feet, and ridden her far away.

Then up and spoke the Colonel’s son that led a troop of the Guides:
“Is there never a man of all my men can say where Kamal hides?”
Then up and spoke Mahommed Khan, the son of the Ressaldar:
“If ye know the track of the morning-mist, ye know where his pickets are.

“At dusk he harries the Abazai — at dawn he is into Bonair,
But he must go by Fort Bukloh to his own place to fare,
So if ye gallop to Fort Bukloh as fast as a bird can fly,
By the favour of God ye may cut him off ere he win to the Tongue of Jagai.

“But if he be past the Tongue of Jagai, right swiftly turn ye then,
For the length and the breadth of that grisly plain is sown with Kamal’s men.
There is rock to the left, and rock to the right, and low lean thorn between,
And ye may hear a breech-bolt snick where never a man is seen.”

The Colonel’s son has taken a horse, and a raw rough dun was he,
With the mouth of a bell and the heart of Hell and the head of the gallows-tree.

The Colonel’s son to the Fort has won, they bid him stay to eat —
Who rides at the tail of a Border thief, he sits not long at his meat.

He’s up and away from Fort Bukloh as fast as he can fly,
Till he was aware of his father’s mare in the gut of the Tongue of Jagai,
Till he was aware of his father’s mare with Kamal upon her back,
And when he could spy the white of her eye, he made the pistol crack.

He has fired once, he has fired twice, but the whistling ball went wide.
“Ye shoot like a soldier,” Kamal said. “Show now if ye can ride.”

It’s up and over the Tongue of Jagai, as blown dustdevils go,
The dun he fled like a stag of ten, but the mare like a barren doe.

The dun he leaned against the bit and slugged his head above,
But the red mare played with the snaffle-bars, as a maiden plays with a glove.

There was rock to the left and rock to the right, and low lean thorn between,
And thrice he heard a breech-bolt snick tho’ never a man was seen.

They have ridden the low moon out of the sky, their hoofs drum up the dawn,
The dun he went like a wounded bull, but the mare like a new-roused fawn.

The dun he fell at a water-course — in a woful heap fell he,
And Kamal has turned the red mare back, and pulled the rider free.

He has knocked the pistol out of his hand — small room was there to strive,
“’Twas only by favour of mine,” quoth he, “ye rode so long alive:
There was not a rock for twenty mile, there was not a clump of tree,
But covered a man of my own men with his rifle cocked on his knee.

“If I had raised my bridle-hand, as I have held it low,
The little jackals that flee so fast were feasting all in a row:
If I had bowed my head on my breast, as I have held it high,
The kite that whistles above us now were gorged till she could not fly.”
Lightly answered the Colonel’s son: “Do good to bird and beast,
But count who come for the broken meats before thou makest a feast.

“If there should follow a thousand swords to carry my bones away,
Belike the price of a jackal’s meal were more than a thief could pay.

“They will feed their horse on the standing crop, their men on the garnered grain,
The thatch of the byres will serve their fires when all the cattle are slain.
“But if thou thinkest the price be fair — thy brethren wait to sup,
The hound is kin to the jackal-spawn — howl, dog, and call them up!
And if thou thinkest the price be high, in steer and gear and stack,
Give me my father’s mare again, and I’ll fight my own way back!”

Kamal has gripped him by the hand and set him upon his feet.
“No talk shall be of dogs,” said he, “when wolf and gray wolf meet.

“May I eat dirt if thou hast hurt of me in deed or breath;
What dam of lances brought thee forth to jest at the dawn with Death?”
Lightly answered the Colonel’s son: “I hold by the blood of my clan:
Take up the mare for my father’s gift — by God, she has carried a man!”
The red mare ran to the Colonel’s son, and nuzzled against his breast;
“We be two strong men,” said Kamal then, “but she loveth the younger best.

“So she shall go with a lifter’s dower, my turquoise-studded rein,
My broidered saddle and saddle-cloth, and silver stirrups twain.”
The Colonel’s son a pistol drew and held it muzzle-end,
“Ye have taken the one from a foe,” said he;
  “will ye take the mate from a friend?”
“A gift for a gift,” said Kamal straight; “a limb for the risk of a limb.

“Thy father has sent his son to me, I’ll send my son to him!”
With that he whistled his only son, that dropped from a mountain-crest —
He trod the ling like a buck in spring, and he looked like a lance in rest.

“Now here is thy master,” Kamal said, “who leads a troop of the Guides,
And thou must ride at his left side as shield on shoulder rides.
Till Death or I cut loose the tie, at camp and board and bed,
Thy life is his — thy fate it is to guard him with thy head.

“So, thou must eat the White Queen’s meat, and all her foes are thine,
And thou must harry thy father’s hold for the peace of the Border-line,
And thou must make a trooper tough and hack thy way to power —
Belike they will raise thee to Ressaldar when I am hanged in Peshawur.”

They have looked each other between the eyes, and there they found no fault,
They have taken the Oath of the Brother-inBlood on leavened bread and salt:
They have taken the Oath of the Brother-inBlood on fire and fresh-cut sod,
On the hilt and the haft of the Khyber knife, and the Wondrous Names of God.

The Colonel’s son he rides the mare and Kamal’s boy the dun,
And two have come back to Fort Bukloh where there went forth but one.

And when they drew to the Quarter–Guard, full twenty swords flew clear —
There was not a man but carried his feud with the blood of the mountaineer.

“Ha’ done! ha’ done!” said the Colonel’s son.
  “Put up the steel at your sides!
Last night ye had struck at a Border thief —
  tonight ’tis a man of the Guides!”

     Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
     Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
     But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
     When two strong men stand face to face,
       tho’ they come from the ends of the earth!

The Last Suttee

Not many years ago a King died in one of the Rajpoot States. His wives, disregarding the orders of the English against Suttee, would have broken out of the palace had not the gates been barred.

But one of them, disguised as the King’s favourite dancing-girl, passed through the line of guards and reached the pyre. There, her courage failing, she prayed her cousin, a baron of the court, to kill her. This he did, not knowing who she was.

Udai Chand lay sick to death
    In his hold by Gungra hill.
All night we heard the death-gongs ring
For the soul of the dying Rajpoot King,
All night beat up from the women’s wing
    A cry that we could not still.

All night the barons came and went,
    The lords of the outer guard:
All night the cressets glimmered pale
On Ulwar sabre and Tonk jezail,
Mewar headstall and Marwar mail,
    That clinked in the palace yard.

In the Golden room on the palace roof
    All night he fought for air:
And there was sobbing behind the screen,
Rustle and whisper of women unseen,
And the hungry eyes of the Boondi Queen
    On the death she might not share.

He passed at dawn — the death-fire leaped
    From ridge to river-head,
From the Malwa plains to the Abu scars:
And wail upon wail went up to the stars
Behind the grim zenana-bars,
    When they knew that the King was dead.

The dumb priest knelt to tie his mouth
    And robe him for the pyre.
The Boondi Queen beneath us cried:
“See, now, that we die as our mothers died
In the bridal-bed by our master’s side!
    Out, women! — to the fire!”

We drove the great gates home apace:
    White hands were on the sill:
But ere the rush of the unseen feet
Had reached the turn to the open street,
The bars shot down, the guard-drum beat —
    We held the dovecot still.

A face looked down in the gathering day,
    And laughing spoke from the wall:
“Ohe’, they mourn here: let me by —
Azizun, the Lucknow nautch-girl, I!
When the house is rotten, the rats must fly,
    And I seek another thrall.

“For I ruled the King as ne’er did Queen —
    Tonight the Queens rule me!
Guard them safely, but let me go,
Or ever they pay the debt they owe
In scourge and torture!” She leaped below,
    And the grim guard watched her flee.

They knew that the King had spent his soul
    On a North-bred dancing-girl:
That he prayed to a flat-nosed Lucknow god,
And kissed the ground where her feet had trod,
And doomed to death at her drunken nod,
    And swore by her lightest curl.

We bore the King to his fathers’ place,
    Where the tombs of the Sun-born stand:
Where the gray apes swing, and the peacocks preen
On fretted pillar and jewelled screen,
And the wild boar couch in the house of the Queen
    On the drift of the desert sand.

The herald read his titles forth,
    We set the logs aglow:
“Friend of the English, free from fear,
Baron of Luni to Jeysulmeer,
Lord of the Desert of Bikaneer,
    King of the Jungle — go!”

All night the red flame stabbed the sky
    With wavering wind-tossed spears:
And out of a shattered temple crept
A woman who veiled her head and wept,
And called on the King — but the great King slept,
    And turned not for her tears.

Small thought had he to mark the strife —
    Cold fear with hot desire —
When thrice she leaped from the leaping flame,
And thrice she beat her breast for shame,
And thrice like a wounded dove she came
    And moaned about the fire.

One watched, a bow-shot from the blaze,
    The silent streets between,
Who had stood by the King in sport and fray,
To blade in ambush or boar at bay,
And he was a baron old and gray,
    And kin to the Boondi Queen.

He said: “O shameless, put aside
    The veil upon thy brow!
Who held the King and all his land
To the wanton will of a harlot’s hand!
Will the white ash rise from the blistered brand?
    Stoop down, and call him now!”

Then she: “By the faith of my tarnished soul,
    All things I did not well,
I had hoped to clear ere the fire died,
And lay me down by my master’s side
To rule in Heaven his only bride,
    While the others howl in Hell.

“But I have felt the fire’s breath,
    And hard it is to die!
Yet if I may pray a Rajpoot lord
To sully the steel of a Thakur’s sword
With base-born blood of a trade abhorred,”—
    And the Thakur answered, “Ay.”

He drew and struck: the straight blade drank
    The life beneath the breast.

“I had looked for the Queen to face the flame,
But the harlot dies for the Rajpoot dame —
Sister of mine, pass, free from shame,
    Pass with thy King to rest!”

The black log crashed above the white:
    The little flames and lean,
Red as slaughter and blue as steel,
That whistled and fluttered from head to heel,
Leaped up anew, for they found their meal
    On the heart of — the Boondi Queen!

The Ballad of the King’s Mercy

  Abdhur Rahman, the Durani Chief,
    of him is the story told.
  His mercy fills the Khyber hills —
    his grace is manifold;
  He has taken toll of the North and the South —
    his glory reacheth far,
  And they tell the tale of his charity
    from Balkh to Kandahar.

Before the old Peshawur Gate, where Kurd and Kaffir meet,
The Governor of Kabul dealt the Justice of the Street,
And that was strait as running noose and swift as plunging knife,
Tho’ he who held the longer purse might hold the longer life.

There was a hound of Hindustan had struck a Euzufzai,
Wherefore they spat upon his face and led him out to die.

It chanced the King went forth that hour when throat was bared to knife;
The Kaffir grovelled under-hoof and clamoured for his life.

Then said the King: “Have hope, O friend! Yea, Death disgraced is hard;
Much honour shall be thine”; and called the Captain of the Guard,
Yar Khan, a bastard of the Blood, so city-babble saith,
And he was honoured of the King — the which is salt to Death;
And he was son of Daoud Shah, the Reiver of the Plains,
And blood of old Durani Lords ran fire in his veins;
And ’twas to tame an Afghan pride nor Hell nor Heaven could bind,
The King would make him butcher to a yelping cur of Hind.

“Strike!” said the King. “King’s blood art thou — his death shall be his pride!”
Then louder, that the crowd might catch: “Fear not — his arms are tied!”
Yar Khan drew clear the Khyber knife, and struck, and sheathed again.
“O man, thy will is done,” quoth he; “a King this dog hath slain.”

  Abdhur Rahman, the Durani Chief,
    to the North and the South is sold.
  The North and the South shall open their mouth
    to a Ghilzai flag unrolled,
  When the big guns speak to the Khyber peak,
    and his dog-Heratis fly:
  Ye have heard the song — How long? How long?
    Wolves of the Abazai!

That night before the watch was set, when all the streets were clear,
The Governor of Kabul spoke: “My King, hast thou no fear?
Thou knowest — thou hast heard,”— his speech died at his master’s face.

And grimly said the Afghan King: “I rule the Afghan race.
My path is mine — see thou to thine — tonight upon thy bed
Think who there be in Kabul now that clamour for thy head.”

That night when all the gates were shut to City and to throne,
Within a little garden-house the King lay down alone.

Before the sinking of the moon, which is the Night of Night,
Yar Khan came softly to the King to make his honour white.
The children of the town had mocked beneath his horse’s hoofs,
The harlots of the town had hailed him “butcher!” from their roofs.

But as he groped against the wall, two hands upon him fell,
The King behind his shoulder spake: “Dead man, thou dost not well!
’Tis ill to jest with Kings by day and seek a boon by night;
And that thou bearest in thy hand is all too sharp to write.

“But three days hence, if God be good, and if thy strength remain,
Thou shalt demand one boon of me and bless me in thy pain.
For I am merciful to all, and most of all to thee.

“My butcher of the shambles, rest — no knife hast thou for me!”

  Abdhur Rahman, the Durani Chief,
    holds hard by the South and the North;
  But the Ghilzai knows, ere the melting snows,
    when the swollen banks break forth,
  When the red-coats crawl to the sungar wall,
    and his Usbeg lances fail:
  Ye have heard the song — How long? How long?
    Wolves of the Zuka Kheyl!

They stoned him in the rubbish-field when dawn was in the sky,
According to the written word, “See that he do not die.”

They stoned him till the stones were piled above him on the plain,
And those the labouring limbs displaced they tumbled back again.

One watched beside the dreary mound that veiled the battered thing,
And him the King with laughter called the Herald of the King.

It was upon the second night, the night of Ramazan,
The watcher leaning earthward heard the message of Yar Khan.

From shattered breast through shrivelled lips broke forth the rattling breath,
“Creature of God, deliver me from agony of Death.”

They sought the King among his girls, and risked their lives thereby:
“Protector of the Pitiful, give orders that he die!”

“Bid him endure until the day,” a lagging answer came;
“The night is short, and he can pray and learn to bless my name.”

Before the dawn three times he spoke, and on the day once more:
“Creature of God, deliver me, and bless the King therefor!”

They shot him at the morning prayer, to ease him of his pain,
And when he heard the matchlocks clink, he blessed the King again.

Which thing the singers made a song for all the world to sing,
So that the Outer Seas may know the mercy of the King.

  Abdhur Rahman, the Durani Chief,
    of him is the story told,
  He has opened his mouth to the North and the South,
    they have stuffed his mouth with gold.

  Ye know the truth of his tender ruth —
    and sweet his favours are:
  Ye have heard the song — How long? How long?
    from Balkh to Kandahar.

The Ballad of the King’s Jest

When spring-time flushes the desert grass,
Our kafilas wind through the Khyber Pass.

Lean are the camels but fat the frails,
Light are the purses but heavy the bales,
As the snowbound trade of the North comes down
To the market-square of Peshawur town.

In a turquoise twilight, crisp and chill,
A kafila camped at the foot of the hill.

Then blue smoke-haze of the cooking rose,
And tent-peg answered to hammer-nose;
And the picketed ponies, shag and wild,
Strained at their ropes as the feed was piled;
And the bubbling camels beside the load
Sprawled for a furlong adown the road;
And the Persian pussy-cats, brought for sale,
Spat at the dogs from the camel-bale;
And the tribesmen bellowed to hasten the food;
And the camp-fires twinkled by Fort Jumrood;
And there fled on the wings of the gathering dusk
A savour of camels and carpets and musk,
A murmur of voices, a reek of smoke,
To tell us the trade of the Khyber woke.

The lid of the flesh-pot chattered high,
The knives were whetted and — then came I
To Mahbub Ali the muleteer,
Patching his bridles and counting his gear,
Crammed with the gossip of half a year.

But Mahbub Ali the kindly said,
“Better is speech when the belly is fed.”
So we plunged the hand to the mid-wrist deep
In a cinnamon stew of the fat-tailed sheep,
And he who never hath tasted the food,
By Allah! he knoweth not bad from good.

We cleansed our beards of the mutton-grease,
We lay on the mats and were filled with peace,
And the talk slid north, and the talk slid south,
With the sliding puffs from the hookah-mouth.

Four things greater than all things are —
Women and Horses and Power and War.

We spake of them all, but the last the most,
For I sought a word of a Russian post,
Of a shifty promise, an unsheathed sword
And a gray-coat guard on the Helmund ford.

Then Mahbub Ali lowered his eyes
In the fashion of one who is weaving lies.

Quoth he: “Of the Russians who can say?
When the night is gathering all is gray.
But we look that the gloom of the night shall die
In the morning flush of a blood-red sky.

“Friend of my heart, is it meet or wise
To warn a King of his enemies?
We know what Heaven or Hell may bring,
But no man knoweth the mind of the King.

“That unsought counsel is cursed of God
Attesteth the story of Wali Dad.

“His sire was leaky of tongue and pen,
His dam was a clucking Khuttuck hen;
And the colt bred close to the vice of each,
For he carried the curse of an unstanched speech.

“Therewith madness — so that he sought
The favour of kings at the Kabul court;
And travelled, in hope of honour, far
To the line where the gray-coat squadrons are.

“There have I journeyed too — but I
Saw naught, said naught, and — did not die!
He harked to rumour, and snatched at a breath
Of ‘this one knoweth’ and ‘that one saith’ —
Legends that ran from mouth to mouth
Of a gray-coat coming, and sack of the South.

“These have I also heard — they pass
With each new spring and the winter grass.

“Hot-foot southward, forgotten of God,
Back to the city ran Wali Dad,
Even to Kabul — in full durbar
The King held talk with his Chief in War.

“Into the press of the crowd he broke,
And what he had heard of the coming spoke.

“Then Gholam Hyder, the Red Chief, smiled,
As a mother might on a babbling child;
But those who would laugh restrained their breath,
When the face of the King showed dark as death.

“Evil it is in full durbar
To cry to a ruler of gathering war!
Slowly he led to a peach-tree small,
That grew by a cleft of the city wall.

“And he said to the boy: ‘They shall praise thy zeal
So long as the red spurt follows the steel.

“‘And the Russ is upon us even now?
Great is thy prudence — await them, thou.
Watch from the tree. Thou art young and strong,
Surely thy vigil is not for long.

“‘The Russ is upon us, thy clamour ran?
Surely an hour shall bring their van.
Wait and watch. When the host is near,
Shout aloud that my men may hear.’

“Friend of my heart, is it meet or wise
To warn a King of his enemies?
A guard was set that he might not flee —
A score of bayonets ringed the tree.

“The peach-bloom fell in showers of snow,
When he shook at his death as he looked below.
By the power of God, who alone is great,
Till the seventh day he fought with his fate.

“Then madness took him, and men declare
He mowed in the branches as ape and bear,
And last as a sloth, ere his body failed,
And he hung as a bat in the forks, and wailed,
And sleep the cord of his hands untied,
And he fell, and was caught on the points and died.

“Heart of my heart, is it meet or wise
To warn a King of his enemies?
We know what Heaven or Hell may bring,
But no man knoweth the mind of the King.

“Of the gray-coat coming who can say?
When the night is gathering all is gray.

“To things greater than all things are,
The first is Love, and the second War.

“And since we know not how War may prove,
Heart of my heart, let us talk of Love!”

The Ballad of Boh Da Thone

          This is the ballad of Boh Da Thone,
          Erst a Pretender to Theebaw’s throne,
          Who harried the district of Alalone:
          How he met with his fate and the V.P.P.

          At the hand of Harendra Mukerji,
          Senior Gomashta, G.B.T.

Boh Da Thone was a warrior bold:
His sword and his Snider were bossed with gold,

And the Peacock Banner his henchmen bore
Was stiff with bullion, but stiffer with gore.

He shot at the strong and he slashed at the weak
From the Salween scrub to the Chindwin teak:

He crucified noble, he sacrificed mean,
He filled old ladies with kerosene:

While over the water the papers cried,
“The patriot fights for his countryside!”

But little they cared for the Native Press,
The worn white soldiers in Khaki dress,

Who tramped through the jungle and camped in the byre,
Who died in the swamp and were tombed in the mire,

Who gave up their lives, at the Queen’s Command,
For the Pride of their Race and the Peace of the Land.

Now, first of the foemen of Boh Da Thone
Was Captain O’Neil of the “Black Tyrone”,
And his was a Company, seventy strong,
Who hustled that dissolute Chief along.

There were lads from Galway and Louth and Meath
Who went to their death with a joke in their teeth,
And worshipped with fluency, fervour, and zeal
The mud on the boot-heels of “Crook” O’Neil.

But ever a blight on their labours lay,
And ever their quarry would vanish away,
Till the sun-dried boys of the Black Tyrone
Took a brotherly interest in Boh Da Thone:
And, sooth, if pursuit in possession ends,
The Boh and his trackers were best of friends.

The word of a scout — a march by night —
A rush through the mist — a scattering fight —
A volley from cover — a corpse in the clearing —
The glimpse of a loin-cloth and heavy jade earring —
The flare of a village — the tally of slain —
And. . .the Boh was abroad “on the raid” again!

They cursed their luck, as the Irish will,
They gave him credit for cunning and skill,
They buried their dead, they bolted their beef,
And started anew on the track of the thief
Till, in place of the “Kalends of Greece”, men said,
“When Crook and his darlings come back with the head.”

They had hunted the Boh from the hills to the plain —
He doubled and broke for the hills again:
They had crippled his power for rapine and raid,
They had routed him out of his pet stockade,
And at last, they came, when the Day Star tired,
To a camp deserted — a village fired.

A black cross blistered the Morning-gold,
And the body upon it was stark and cold.
The wind of the dawn went merrily past,
The high grass bowed her plumes to the blast.

And out of the grass, on a sudden, broke
A spirtle of fire, a whorl of smoke —

And Captain O’Neil of the Black Tyrone
Was blessed with a slug in the ulnar-bone —
The gift of his enemy Boh Da Thone.

(Now a slug that is hammered from telegraph-wire
Is a thorn in the flesh and a rankling fire.)
. . . .

The shot-wound festered — as shot-wounds may
In a steaming barrack at Mandalay.

The left arm throbbed, and the Captain swore,
“I’d like to be after the Boh once more!”
The fever held him — the Captain said,
“I’d give a hundred to look at his head!”

The Hospital punkahs creaked and whirred,
But Babu Harendra (Gomashta) heard.

He thought of the cane-brake, green and dank,
That girdled his home by the Dacca tank.
He thought of his wife and his High School son,
He thought — but abandoned the thought — of a gun.
His sleep was broken by visions dread
Of a shining Boh with a silver head.

He kept his counsel and went his way,
And swindled the cartmen of half their pay.
. . . .

And the months went on, as the worst must do,
And the Boh returned to the raid anew.

But the Captain had quitted the long-drawn strife,
And in far Simoorie had taken a wife.
And she was a damsel of delicate mould,
With hair like the sunshine and heart of gold,

And little she knew the arms that embraced
Had cloven a man from the brow to the waist:
And little she knew that the loving lips
Had ordered a quivering life’s eclipse,

And the eye that lit at her lightest breath
Had glared unawed in the Gates of Death.

(For these be matters a man would hide,
As a general rule, from an innocent Bride.)

And little the Captain thought of the past,
And, of all men, Babu Harendra last.
. . . .

But slow, in the sludge of the Kathun road,
The Government Bullock Train toted its load.
Speckless and spotless and shining with ghee,
In the rearmost cart sat the Babu-jee.

And ever a phantom before him fled
Of a scowling Boh with a silver head.

Then the lead-cart stuck, though the coolies slaved,
And the cartmen flogged and the escort raved;
And out of the jungle, with yells and squeals,
Pranced Boh Da Thone, and his gang at his heels!

Then belching blunderbuss answered back
The Snider’s snarl and the carbine’s crack,
And the blithe revolver began to sing
To the blade that twanged on the locking-ring,
And the brown flesh blued where the bay’net kissed,
As the steel shot back with a wrench and a twist,
And the great white bullocks with onyx eyes
Watched the souls of the dead arise,
And over the smoke of the fusillade
The Peacock Banner staggered and swayed.

Oh, gayest of scrimmages man may see
Is a well-worked rush on the G.B.T.!

The Babu shook at the horrible sight,
And girded his ponderous loins for flight,
But Fate had ordained that the Boh should start
On a lone-hand raid of the rearmost cart,
And out of that cart, with a bellow of woe,
The Babu fell — flat on the top of the Boh!

For years had Harendra served the State,
To the growth of his purse and the girth of his pet.

There were twenty stone, as the tally-man knows,
On the broad of the chest of this best of Bohs.
And twenty stone from a height discharged
Are bad for a Boh with a spleen enlarged.

Oh, short was the struggle — severe was the shock —
He dropped like a bullock — he lay like a block;
And the Babu above him, convulsed with fear,
Heard the labouring life-breath hissed out in his ear.

And thus in a fashion undignified
The princely pest of the Chindwin died.
. . . .

Turn now to Simoorie where, lapped in his ease,
The Captain is petting the Bride on his knees,
Where the whit of the bullet, the wounded man’s scream
Are mixed as the mist of some devilish dream —
Forgotten, forgotten the sweat of the shambles
Where the hill-daisy blooms and the gray monkey gambols,
From the sword-belt set free and released from the steel,
The Peace of the Lord is with Captain O’Neil.
. . . .

Up the hill to Simoorie — most patient of drudges —
The bags on his shoulder, the mail-runner trudges.

“For Captain O’Neil, Sahib. One hundred and ten
Rupees to collect on delivery.”
                                 Then

(Their breakfast was stopped while the screw-jack and hammer
Tore waxcloth, split teak-wood, and chipped out the dammer;)

Open-eyed, open-mouthed, on the napery’s snow,
With a crash and a thud, rolled — the Head of the Boh!

And gummed to the scalp was a letter which ran:—
               “IN FIELDING FORCE SERVICE.

                    “Encampment,
“— th Jan.

“Dear Sir — I have honour to send, as you said,
For final approval (see under) Boh’s Head;

“Was took by myself in most bloody affair.

“By High Education brought pressure to bear.

“Now violate Liberty, time being bad,
To mail V.P.P. (rupees hundred) Please add

“Whatever Your Honour can pass. Price of Blood
Much cheap at one hundred, and children want food;

“So trusting Your Honour will somewhat retain
True love and affection for Govt. Bullock Train,

“And show awful kindness to satisfy me,
        I am,
            Graceful Master,
                          Your
                            H. MUKERJI.”
. . . .

As the rabbit is drawn to the rattlesnake’s power,
As the smoker’s eye fills at the opium hour,
As a horse reaches up to the manger above,
As the waiting ear yearns for the whisper of love,
From the arms of the Bride, iron-visaged and slow,
The Captain bent down to the Head of the Boh.

And e’en as he looked on the Thing where It lay
‘Twixt the winking new spoons and the napkins’ array,
The freed mind fled back to the long-ago days —
The hand-to-hand scuffle — the smoke and the blaze —
The forced march at night and the quick rush at dawn —
The banjo at twilight, the burial ere morn —
The stench of the marshes — the raw, piercing smell
When the overhand stabbing-cut silenced the yell —
The oaths of his Irish that surged when they stood
Where the black crosses hung o’er the Kuttamow flood.

As a derelict ship drifts away with the tide
The Captain went out on the Past from his Bride,

Back, back, through the springs to the chill of the year,
When he hunted the Boh from Maloon to Tsaleer.

As the shape of a corpse dimmers up through deep water,
In his eye lit the passionless passion of slaughter,
And men who had fought with O’Neil for the life
Had gazed on his face with less dread than his wife.

For she who had held him so long could not hold him —
Though a four-month Eternity should have controlled him —
But watched the twin Terror — the head turned to head —
The scowling, scarred Black, and the flushed savage Red —
The spirit that changed from her knowing and flew to
Some grim hidden Past she had never a clue to.

But It knew as It grinned, for he touched it unfearing,
And muttered aloud, “So you kept that jade earring!”

Then nodded, and kindly, as friend nods to friend,
“Old man, you fought well, but you lost in the end.”
. . . .

The visions departed, and Shame followed Passion:—
“He took what I said in this horrible fashion,

“I’ll write to Harendra!” With language unsainted
The Captain came back to the Bride. . .who had fainted.
. . . .

And this is a fiction? No. Go to Simoorie
And look at their baby, a twelve-month old Houri,
A pert little, Irish-eyed Kathleen Mavournin —
She’s always about on the Mall of a mornin’—

And you’ll see, if her right shoulder-strap is displaced,
This: Gules upon argent, a Boh’s Head, erased!

The Lament of the Border Cattle Thief

O woe is me for the merry life
 I led beyond the Bar,
And a treble woe for my winsome wife
 That weeps at Shalimar.

They have taken away my long jezail,
 My shield and sabre fine,
And heaved me into the Central jail
 For lifting of the kine.

The steer may low within the byre,
 The Jat may tend his grain,
But there’ll be neither loot nor fire
 Till I come back again.

And God have mercy on the Jat
 When once my fetters fall,
And Heaven defend the farmer’s hut
 When I am loosed from thrall.

It’s woe to bend the stubborn back
 Above the grinching quern,
It’s woe to hear the leg-bar clack
 And jingle when I turn!

But for the sorrow and the shame,
 The brand on me and mine,
I’ll pay you back in leaping flame
 And loss of the butchered kine.

For every cow I spared before
 In charity set free,
If I may reach my hold once more
 I’ll reive an honest three.

For every time I raised the low
 That scared the dusty plain,
By sword and cord, by torch and tow
 I’ll light the land with twain!

Ride hard, ride hard to Abazai,
 Young Sahib with the yellow hair —
Lie close, lie close as khuttucks lie,
 Fat herds below Bonair!

The one I’ll shoot at twilight-tide,
 At dawn I’ll drive the other;
The black shall mourn for hoof and hide,
 The white man for his brother.

’Tis war, red war, I’ll give you then,
 War till my sinews fail;
For the wrong you have done to a chief of men,
 And a thief of the Zukka Kheyl.

And if I fall to your hand afresh
 I give you leave for the sin,
That you cram my throat with the foul pig’s flesh,
 And swing me in the skin!

The Rhyme of the Three Captains

This ballad appears to refer to one of the exploits of the notorious Paul
Jones, the American pirate. It is founded on fact.

    . . . At the close of a winter day,
Their anchors down, by London town, the Three Great Captains lay;
And one was Admiral of the North from Solway Firth to Skye,
And one was Lord of the Wessex coast and all the lands thereby,
And one was Master of the Thames from Limehouse to Blackwall,
And he was Captain of the Fleet — the bravest of them all.

Their good guns guarded their great gray sides that were thirty foot in the
sheer,
When there came a certain trading-brig with news of a privateer.

Her rigging was rough with the clotted drift that drives in a Northern breeze,
Her sides were clogged with the lazy weed that spawns in the Eastern seas.

Light she rode in the rude tide-rip, to left and right she rolled,
And the skipper sat on the scuttle-butt and stared at an empty hold.

“I ha’ paid Port dues for your Law,” quoth he, “and where is the Law ye boast
If I sail unscathed from a heathen port to be robbed on a Christian coast?
Ye have smoked the hives of the Laccadives as we burn the lice in a bunk,
We tack not now to a Gallang prow or a plunging Pei-ho junk;
I had no fear but the seas were clear as far as a sail might fare
Till I met with a lime-washed Yankee brig that rode off Finisterre.

“There were canvas blinds to his bow-gun ports to screen the weight he bore,
And the signals ran for a merchantman from Sandy Hook to the Nore.

“He would not fly the Rovers’ flag — the bloody or the black,
But now he floated the Gridiron and now he flaunted the Jack.
He spoke of the Law as he crimped my crew — he swore it was only a loan;
But when I would ask for my own again, he swore it was none of my own.

“He has taken my little parrakeets that nest beneath the Line,
He has stripped my rails of the shaddock-frails and the green unripened pine;
He has taken my bale of dammer and spice I won beyond the seas,
He has taken my grinning heathen gods — and what should he want o’ these?
My foremast would not mend his boom, my deckhouse patch his boats;
He has whittled the two, this Yank Yahoo, to peddle for shoe-peg oats.

“I could not fight for the failing light and a rough beam-sea beside,
But I hulled him once for a clumsy crimp and twice because he lied.

“Had I had guns (as I had goods) to work my Christian harm,
I had run him up from his quarter-deck to trade with his own yard-arm;
I had nailed his ears to my capstan-head, and ripped them off with a saw,
And soused them in the bilgewater, and served them to him raw;
I had flung him blind in a rudderless boat to rot in the rocking dark,
I had towed him aft of his own craft, a bait for his brother shark;
I had lapped him round with cocoa husk, and drenched him with the oil,
And lashed him fast to his own mast to blaze above my spoil;
I had stripped his hide for my hammock-side, and tasselled his beard i’ the
mesh,
And spitted his crew on the live bamboo that grows through the gangrened
flesh;
I had hove him down by the mangroves brown, where the mud-reef sucks and
draws,
Moored by the heel to his own keel to wait for the land-crab’s claws!
He is lazar within and lime without, ye can nose him far enow,
For he carries the taint of a musky ship — the reek of the slaver’s dhow!”
The skipper looked at the tiering guns and the bulwarks tall and cold,
And the Captains Three full courteously peered down at the gutted hold,
And the Captains Three called courteously from deck to scuttle-butt:—
“Good Sir, we ha’ dealt with that merchantman or ever your teeth were cut.

“Your words be words of a lawless race, and the Law it standeth thus:
He comes of a race that have never a Law, and he never has boarded us.

“We ha’ sold him canvas and rope and spar — we know that his price is fair,
And we know that he weeps for the lack of a Law as he rides off Finisterre.

“And since he is damned for a gallows-thief by you and better than you,
We hold it meet that the English fleet should know that we hold him true.”
The skipper called to the tall taffrail:—“And what is that to me?
Did ever you hear of a Yankee brig that rifled a Seventy-three?
Do I loom so large from your quarter-deck that I lift like a ship o’
     the Line?
He has learned to run from a shotted gun and harry such craft as mine.

“There is never a Law on the Cocos Keys to hold a white man in,
But we do not steal the niggers’ meal, for that is a nigger’s sin.

“Must he have his Law as a quid to chaw, or laid in brass on his wheel?
Does he steal with tears when he buccaneers? ‘Fore Gad, then, why does he
steal?”
The skipper bit on a deep-sea word, and the word it was not sweet,
For he could see the Captains Three had signalled to the Fleet.

But three and two, in white and blue, the whimpering flags began:—
“We have heard a tale of a — foreign sail, but he is a merchantman.”
The skipper peered beneath his palm and swore by the Great Horn Spoon:—
“‘Fore Gad, the Chaplain of the Fleet would bless my picaroon!”
By two and three the flags blew free to lash the laughing air:—
“We have sold our spars to the merchantman — we know that his price is fair.”
The skipper winked his Western eye, and swore by a China storm:—
“They ha’ rigged him a Joseph’s jury-coat to keep his honour warm.”
The halliards twanged against the tops, the bunting bellied broad,
The skipper spat in the empty hold and mourned for a wasted cord.

Masthead — masthead, the signal sped by the line o’ the British craft;
The skipper called to his Lascar crew, and put her about and laughed:—
“It’s mainsail haul, my bully boys all — we’ll out to the seas again —
Ere they set us to paint their pirate saint, or scrub at his grapnel-chain.

“It’s fore-sheet free, with her head to the sea, and the swing of the
unbought brine —
We’ll make no sport in an English court till we come as a ship o’ the Line:
Till we come as a ship o’ the Line, my lads, of thirty foot in the sheer,
Lifting again from the outer main with news of a privateer;
Flying his pluck at our mizzen-truck for weft of Admiralty,
Heaving his head for our dipsey-lead in sign that we keep the sea.

“Then fore-sheet home as she lifts to the foam — we stand on the outward
tack,
We are paid in the coin of the white man’s trade — the bezant is hard, ay,
and black.

“The frigate-bird shall carry my word to the Kling and the Orang–Laut
How a man may sail from a heathen coast to be robbed in a Christian port;
How a man may be robbed in Christian port while Three Great Captains there
Shall dip their flag to a slaver’s rag — to show that his trade is fair!”

The Ballad of the Clampherdown

It was our war-ship Clampherdown
 Would sweep the Channel clean,
Wherefore she kept her hatches close
When the merry Channel chops arose,
 To save the bleached marine.

She had one bow-gun of a hundred ton,
 And a great stern-gun beside;
They dipped their noses deep in the sea,
They racked their stays and stanchions free
 In the wash of the wind-whipped tide.

It was our war-ship Clampherdown,
 Fell in with a cruiser light
That carried the dainty Hotchkiss gun
And a pair o’ heels wherewith to run
 From the grip of a close-fought fight.

She opened fire at seven miles —
 As ye shoot at a bobbing cork —
And once she fired and twice she fired,
Till the bow-gun drooped like a lily tired
 That lolls upon the stalk.

“Captain, the bow-gun melts apace,
 The deck-beams break below,
’Twere well to rest for an hour or twain,
And patch the shattered plates again.”
 And he answered, “Make it so.”

She opened fire within the mile —
 As ye shoot at the flying duck —
And the great stern-gun shot fair and true,
With the heave of the ship, to the stainless blue,
 And the great stern-turret stuck.

“Captain, the turret fills with steam,
 The feed-pipes burst below —
You can hear the hiss of the helpless ram,
You can hear the twisted runners jam.”
 And he answered, “Turn and go!”

It was our war-ship Clampherdown,
 And grimly did she roll;
Swung round to take the cruiser’s fire
As the White Whale faces the Thresher’s ire
 When they war by the frozen Pole.

“Captain, the shells are falling fast,
 And faster still fall we;
And it is not meet for English stock
To bide in the heart of an eight-day clock
 The death they cannot see.”

“Lie down, lie down, my bold A.B.,
 We drift upon her beam;
We dare not ram, for she can run;
And dare ye fire another gun,
 And die in the peeling steam?”

It was our war-ship Clampherdown
 That carried an armour-belt;
But fifty feet at stern and bow
Lay bare as the paunch of the purser’s sow,
 To the hail of the Nordenfeldt.

“Captain, they hack us through and through;
 The chilled steel bolts are swift!
We have emptied the bunkers in open sea,
Their shrapnel bursts where our coal should be.”
 And he answered, “Let her drift.”

It was our war-ship Clampherdown,
 Swung round upon the tide,
Her two dumb guns glared south and north,
And the blood and the bubbling steam ran forth,
 And she ground the cruiser’s side.

“Captain, they cry, the fight is done,
 They bid you send your sword.”
And he answered, “Grapple her stern and bow.
They have asked for the steel. They shall have it now;
 Out cutlasses and board!”

It was our war-ship Clampherdown
 Spewed up four hundred men;
And the scalded stokers yelped delight,
As they rolled in the waist and heard the fight
 Stamp o’er their steel-walled pen.

They cleared the cruiser end to end,
 From conning-tower to hold.
They fought as they fought in Nelson’s fleet;
They were stripped to the waist, they were bare to the feet,
 As it was in the days of old.

It was the sinking Clampherdown
 Heaved up her battered side —
And carried a million pounds in steel,
To the cod and the corpse-fed conger-eel,
 And the scour of the Channel tide.

It was the crew of the Clampherdown
 Stood out to sweep the sea,
On a cruiser won from an ancient foe,
As it was in the days of long ago,
 And as it still shall be.

The Ballad of the “Bolivar”

     Seven men from all the world, back to Docks again,
     Rolling down the Ratcliffe Road drunk and raising Cain:
     Give the girls another drink ‘fore we sign away —
     We that took the Bolivar out across the Bay!

We put out from Sunderland loaded down with rails;
 We put back to Sunderland ‘cause our cargo shifted;
We put out from Sunderland — met the winter gales —
 Seven days and seven nights to the Start we drifted.

    Racketing her rivets loose, smoke-stack white as snow,
    All the coals adrift adeck, half the rails below,
    Leaking like a lobster-pot, steering like a dray —
    Out we took the Bolivar, out across the Bay!

One by one the Lights came up, winked and let us by;
 Mile by mile we waddled on, coal and fo’c’sle short;
Met a blow that laid us down, heard a bulkhead fly;
 Left the Wolf behind us with a two-foot list to port.

    Trailing like a wounded duck, working out her soul;
    Clanging like a smithy-shop after every roll;
    Just a funnel and a mast lurching through the spray —
    So we threshed the Bolivar out across the Bay!

‘Felt her hog and felt her sag, betted when she’d break;
 Wondered every time she raced if she’d stand the shock;
Heard the seas like drunken men pounding at her strake;
 Hoped the Lord ‘ud keep his thumb on the plummer-block.

    Banged against the iron decks, bilges choked with coal;
    Flayed and frozen foot and hand, sick of heart and soul;
    Last we prayed she’d buck herself into judgment Day —
    Hi! we cursed the Bolivar — knocking round the Bay!

O her nose flung up to sky, groaning to be still —
 Up and down and back we went, never time for breath;
Then the money paid at Lloyd’s caught her by the heel,
 And the stars ran round and round dancin’ at our death.

    Aching for an hour’s sleep, dozing off between;
    ‘Heard the rotten rivets draw when she took it green;
    ‘Watched the compass chase its tail like a cat at play —
    That was on the Bolivar, south across the Bay.

Once we saw between the squalls, lyin’ head to swell —
 Mad with work and weariness, wishin’ they was we —
Some damned Liner’s lights go by like a long hotel;
 Cheered her from the Bolivar — swampin’ in the sea.

    Then a grayback cleared us out, then the skipper laughed;
    “Boys, the wheel has gone to Hell — rig the winches aft!
    Yoke the kicking rudder-head — get her under way!”
    So we steered her, pulley-haul, out across the Bay!

Just a pack o’ rotten plates puttied up with tar,
In we came, an’ time enough, ‘cross Bilbao Bar.

    Overloaded, undermanned, meant to founder, we
    Euchred God Almighty’s storm, bluffed the Eternal Sea!

     Seven men from all the world, back to town again,
     Rollin’ down the Ratcliffe Road drunk and raising Cain:
     Seven men from out of Hell. Ain’t the owners gay,
     ‘Cause we took the “Bolivar” safe across the Bay?

The English Flag

     Above the portico a flag-staff, bearing the Union Jack,
     remained fluttering in the flames for some time, but ultimately
     when it fell the crowds rent the air with shouts,
     and seemed to see significance in the incident. — DAILY PAPERS.

Winds of the World, give answer! They are whimpering to and fro —
And what should they know of England who only England know? —
The poor little street-bred people that vapour and fume and brag,
They are lifting their heads in the stillness to yelp at the English Flag!

Must we borrow a clout from the Boer — to plaster anew with dirt?
An Irish liar’s bandage, or an English coward’s shirt?

We may not speak of England; her Flag’s to sell or share.
What is the Flag of England? Winds of the World, declare!

The North Wind blew:—“From Bergen my steel-shod vanguards go;
I chase your lazy whalers home from the Disko floe;
By the great North Lights above me I work the will of God,
And the liner splits on the ice-field or the Dogger fills with cod.

“I barred my gates with iron, I shuttered my doors with flame,
Because to force my ramparts your nutshell navies came;
I took the sun from their presence, I cut them down with my blast,
And they died, but the Flag of England blew free ere the spirit passed.

“The lean white bear hath seen it in the long, long Arctic night,
The musk-ox knows the standard that flouts the Northern Light:
What is the Flag of England? Ye have but my bergs to dare,
Ye have but my drifts to conquer. Go forth, for it is there!”

The South Wind sighed:—“From the Virgins my mid-sea course was ta’en
Over a thousand islands lost in an idle main,
Where the sea-egg flames on the coral and the long-backed breakers croon
Their endless ocean legends to the lazy, locked lagoon.

“Strayed amid lonely islets, mazed amid outer keys,
I waked the palms to laughter — I tossed the scud in the breeze —
Never was isle so little, never was sea so lone,
But over the scud and the palm-trees an English flag was flown.

“I have wrenched it free from the halliard to hang for a wisp on the Horn;
I have chased it north to the Lizard — ribboned and rolled and torn;
I have spread its fold o’er the dying, adrift in a hopeless sea;
I have hurled it swift on the slaver, and seen the slave set free.

“My basking sunfish know it, and wheeling albatross,
Where the lone wave fills with fire beneath the Southern Cross.
What is the Flag of England? Ye have but my reefs to dare,
Ye have but my seas to furrow. Go forth, for it is there!”

The East Wind roared:—“From the Kuriles, the Bitter Seas, I come,
And me men call the Home–Wind, for I bring the English home.
Look — look well to your shipping! By the breath of my mad typhoon
I swept your close-packed Praya and beached your best at Kowloon!

“The reeling junks behind me and the racing seas before,
I raped your richest roadstead — I plundered Singapore!
I set my hand on the Hoogli; as a hooded snake she rose,
And I flung your stoutest steamers to roost with the startled crows.

“Never the lotus closes, never the wild-fowl wake,
But a soul goes out on the East Wind that died for England’s sake —
Man or woman or suckling, mother or bride or maid —
Because on the bones of the English the English Flag is stayed.

“The desert-dust hath dimmed it, the flying wild-ass knows,
The scared white leopard winds it across the taintless snows.
What is the Flag of England? Ye have but my sun to dare,
Ye have but my sands to travel. Go forth, for it is there!”

The West Wind called:—“In squadrons the thoughtless galleons fly
That bear the wheat and cattle lest street-bred people die.
They make my might their porter, they make my house their path,
Till I loose my neck from their rudder and whelm them all in my wrath.

“I draw the gliding fog-bank as a snake is drawn from the hole,
They bellow one to the other, the frighted ship-bells toll,
For day is a drifting terror till I raise the shroud with my breath,
And they see strange bows above them and the two go locked to death.

“But whether in calm or wrack-wreath, whether by dark or day,
I heave them whole to the conger or rip their plates away,
First of the scattered legions, under a shrieking sky,
Dipping between the rollers, the English Flag goes by.

“The dead dumb fog hath wrapped it — the frozen dews have kissed —
The naked stars have seen it, a fellow-star in the mist.
What is the Flag of England? Ye have but my breath to dare,
Ye have but my waves to conquer. Go forth, for it is there!”

“Cleared”

(In Memory of a Commission)

Help for a patriot distressed, a spotless spirit hurt,
Help for an honorable clan sore trampled in the dirt!
From Queenstown Bay to Donegal, O listen to my song,
The honorable gentlemen have suffered grievous wrong.

Their noble names were mentioned — O the burning black disgrace! —
By a brutal Saxon paper in an Irish shooting-case;
They sat upon it for a year, then steeled their heart to brave it,
And “coruscating innocence” the learned Judges gave it.

Bear witness, Heaven, of that grim crime beneath the surgeon’s knife,
The honorable gentlemen deplored the loss of life;
Bear witness of those chanting choirs that burk and shirk and snigger,
No man laid hand upon the knife or finger to the trigger!

Cleared in the face of all mankind beneath the winking skies,
Like phoenixes from Phoenix Park (and what lay there) they rise!
Go shout it to the emerald seas-give word to Erin now,
Her honorable gentlemen are cleared — and this is how:

They only paid the Moonlighter his cattle-hocking price,
They only helped the murderer with council’s best advice,
But — sure it keeps their honor white — the learned Court believes
They never gave a piece of plate to murderers and thieves.

They ever told the ramping crowd to card a woman’s hide,
They never marked a man for death — what fault of theirs he died? —
They only said “intimidate,” and talked and went away —
By God, the boys that did the work were braver men than they!

Their sin it was that fed the fire — small blame to them that heard
The “bhoys” get drunk on rhetoric, and madden at the word —
They knew whom they were talking at, if they were Irish too,
The gentlemen that lied in Court, they knew and well they knew.

They only took the Judas-gold from Fenians out of jail,
They only fawned for dollars on the blood-dyed Clan-na-Gael.
If black is black or white is white, ill black and white it’s down,
They’re only traitors to the Queen and rebels to the Crown.

“Cleared,” honorable gentlemen. Be thankful it’s no more:
The widow’s curse is on your house, the dead are at your door.
On you the shame of open shame, on you from North to South
The band of every honest man flat-heeled across your mouth.

“Less black than we were painted”? — Faith, no word of black was said;
The lightest touch was human blood, and that, ye know, runs red.
It’s sticking to your fist today for all your sneer and scoff,
And by the Judge’s well-weighed word you cannot wipe it off.

Hold up those hands of innocence — go, scare your sheep, together,
The blundering, tripping tups that bleat behind the old bell-wether;
And if they snuff the taint and break to find another pen,
Tell them it’s tar that glistens so, and daub them yours again!

“The charge is old”? — As old as Cain — as fresh as yesterday;
Old as the Ten Commandments, have ye talked those laws away?
If words are words, or death is death, or powder sends the ball,
You spoke the words that sped the shot — the curse be on you all.

“Our friends believe”? Of course they do — as sheltered women may;
But have they seen the shrieking soul ripped from the quivering clay?
They — If their own front door is shut, they’ll swear the whole world’s warm;
What do they know of dread of death or hanging fear of harm?

The secret half a country keeps, the whisper in the lane,
The shriek that tells the shot went home behind the broken pane,
The dry blood crisping in the sun that scares the honest bees,
And shows the “bhoys” have heard your talk — what do they know of these?

But you — you know — ay, ten times more; the secrets of the dead,
Black terror on the country-side by word and whisper bred,
The mangled stallion’s scream at night, the tail-cropped heifer’s low.
Who set the whisper going first? You know, and well you know!

My soul! I’d sooner lie in jail for murder plain and straight,
Pure crime I’d done with my own hand for money, lust, or hate,
Than take a seat in Parliament by fellow-felons cheered,
While one of those “not provens” proved me cleared as you are cleared.

Cleared — you that “lost” the League accounts — go, guard our honor still,
Go, help to make our country’s laws that broke God’s laws at will —
One hand stuck out behind the back, to signal “strike again”;
The other on your dress-shirt front to show your heart is @dane,

If black is black or white is white, in black and white it’s down,
You’re only traitors to the Queen and but rebels to the Crown
If print is print or words are words, the learned Court perpends:
We are not ruled by murderers, only — by their friends.

An Imperial Rescript

Now this is the tale of the Council the German Kaiser decreed,
To ease the strong of their burden, to help the weak in their need,
He sent a word to the peoples, who struggle, and pant, and sweat,
That the straw might be counted fairly and the tally of bricks be set.

The Lords of Their Hands assembled; from the East and the West they drew —
Baltimore, Lille, and Essen, Brummagem, Clyde, and Crewe.
And some were black from the furnace, and some were brown from the soil,
And some were blue from the dye-vat; but all were wearied of toil.

And the young King said:—“I have found it, the road to the rest ye seek:
The strong shall wait for the weary, the hale shall halt for the weak;
With the even tramp of an army where no man breaks from the line,
Ye shall march to peace and plenty in the bond of brotherhood — sign!”

The paper lay on the table, the strong heads bowed thereby,
And a wail went up from the peoples:—“Ay, sign — give rest, for we die!”
A hand was stretched to the goose-quill, a fist was cramped to scrawl,
When — the laugh of a blue-eyed maiden ran clear through the council-hall.

And each one heard Her laughing as each one saw Her plain —
Saidie, Mimi, or Olga, Gretchen, or Mary Jane.
And the Spirit of Man that is in Him to the light of the vision woke;
And the men drew back from the paper, as a Yankee delegate spoke:—

“There’s a girl in Jersey City who works on the telephone;
We’re going to hitch our horses and dig for a house of our own,
With gas and water connections, and steam-heat through to the top;
And, W. Hohenzollern, I guess I shall work till I drop.”

And an English delegate thundered:—“The weak an’ the lame be blowed!
I’ve a berth in the Sou’-West workshops, a home in the Wandsworth Road;
And till the ‘sociation has footed my buryin’ bill,
I work for the kids an’ the missus. Pull up? I be damned if I will!”

And over the German benches the bearded whisper ran:—
“Lager, der girls und der dollars, dey makes or dey breaks a man.
If Schmitt haf collared der dollars, he collars der girl deremit;
But if Schmitt bust in der pizness, we collars der girl from Schmitt.”

They passed one resolution:—“Your sub-committee believe
You can lighten the curse of Adam when you’ve lightened the curse of Eve.
But till we are built like angels, with hammer and chisel and pen,
We will work for ourself and a woman, for ever and ever, amen.”

Now this is the tale of the Council the German Kaiser held —
The day that they razored the Grindstone, the day that the Cat was belled,
The day of the Figs from Thistles, the day of the Twisted Sands,
The day that the laugh of a maiden made light of the Lords of Their Hands.

Tomlinson

Now Tomlinson gave up the ghost in his house in Berkeley Square,
And a Spirit came to his bedside and gripped him by the hair —
A Spirit gripped him by the hair and carried him far away,
Till he heard as the roar of a rain-fed ford the roar of the Milky Way:
Till he heard the roar of the Milky Way die down and drone and cease,
And they came to the Gate within the Wall where Peter holds the keys.

“Stand up, stand up now, Tomlinson, and answer loud and high
The good that ye did for the sake of men or ever ye came to die —
The good that ye did for the sake of men in little earth so lone!”
And the naked soul of Tomlinson grew white as a rain-washed bone.

“O I have a friend on earth,” he said, “that was my priest and guide,
And well would he answer all for me if he were by my side.”
—“For that ye strove in neighbour-love it shall be written fair,
But now ye wait at Heaven’s Gate and not in Berkeley Square:
Though we called your friend from his bed this night, he could not speak
for you,
For the race is run by one and one and never by two and two.”
Then Tomlinson looked up and down, and little gain was there,
For the naked stars grinned overhead, and he saw that his soul was bare:
The Wind that blows between the worlds, it cut him like a knife,
And Tomlinson took up his tale and spoke of his good in life.

“This I have read in a book,” he said, “and that was told to me,
And this I have thought that another man thought of a Prince in Muscovy.”
The good souls flocked like homing doves and bade him clear the path,
And Peter twirled the jangling keys in weariness and wrath.

“Ye have read, ye have heard, ye have thought,” he said, “and the tale is
yet to run:
By the worth of the body that once ye had, give answer — what ha’ye done?”
Then Tomlinson looked back and forth, and little good it bore,
For the Darkness stayed at his shoulder-blade and Heaven’s Gate before:—
“O this I have felt, and this I have guessed, and this I have heard men say,
And this they wrote that another man wrote of a carl in Norroway.”
—“Ye have read, ye have felt, ye have guessed, good lack! Ye have hampered
Heaven’s Gate;
There’s little room between the stars in idleness to prate!
O none may reach by hired speech of neighbour, priest, and kin
Through borrowed deed to God’s good meed that lies so fair within;
Get hence, get hence to the Lord of Wrong, for doom has yet to run,
And. . .the faith that ye share with Berkeley Square uphold you, Tomlinson!”
. . . . .

The Spirit gripped him by the hair, and sun by sun they fell
Till they came to the belt of Naughty Stars that rim the mouth of Hell:
The first are red with pride and wrath, the next are white with pain,
But the third are black with clinkered sin that cannot burn again:
They may hold their path, they may leave their path, with never a soul to
mark,
They may burn or freeze, but they must not cease in the Scorn of the Outer
Dark.

The Wind that blows between the worlds, it nipped him to the bone,
And he yearned to the flare of Hell–Gate there as the light of his own
hearth-stone.

The Devil he sat behind the bars, where the desperate legions drew,
But he caught the hasting Tomlinson and would not let him through.

“Wot ye the price of good pit-coal that I must pay?” said he,
“That ye rank yoursel’ so fit for Hell and ask no leave of me?
I am all o’er-sib to Adam’s breed that ye should give me scorn,
For I strove with God for your First Father the day that he was born.

“Sit down, sit down upon the slag, and answer loud and high
The harm that ye did to the Sons of Men or ever you came to die.”
And Tomlinson looked up and up, and saw against the night
The belly of a tortured star blood-red in Hell–Mouth light;
And Tomlinson looked down and down, and saw beneath his feet
The frontlet of a tortured star milk-white in Hell–Mouth heat.

“O I had a love on earth,” said he, “that kissed me to my fall,
And if ye would call my love to me I know she would answer all.”
—“All that ye did in love forbid it shall be written fair,
But now ye wait at Hell–Mouth Gate and not in Berkeley Square:
Though we whistled your love from her bed tonight, I trow she would not run,
For the sin ye do by two and two ye must pay for one by one!”
The Wind that blows between the worlds, it cut him like a knife,
And Tomlinson took up the tale and spoke of his sin in life:—
“Once I ha’ laughed at the power of Love and twice at the grip of the Grave,
And thrice I ha’ patted my God on the head that men might call me brave.”
The Devil he blew on a brandered soul and set it aside to cool:—
“Do ye think I would waste my good pit-coal on the hide of a brain-sick fool?
I see no worth in the hobnailed mirth or the jolthead jest ye did
That I should waken my gentlemen that are sleeping three on a grid.”
Then Tomlinson looked back and forth, and there was little grace,
For Hell–Gate filled the houseless Soul with the Fear of Naked Space.

“Nay, this I ha’ heard,” quo’ Tomlinson, “and this was noised abroad,
And this I ha’ got from a Belgian book on the word of a dead French lord.”
—“Ye ha’ heard, ye ha’ read, ye ha’ got, good lack! and the tale begins
afresh —
Have ye sinned one sin for the pride o’ the eye or the sinful lust of the
flesh?”
Then Tomlinson he gripped the bars and yammered, “Let me in-
For I mind that I borrowed my neighbour’s wife to sin the deadly sin.”
The Devil he grinned behind the bars, and banked the fires high:
“Did ye read of that sin in a book?” said he; and Tomlinson said, “Ay!”
The Devil he blew upon his nails, and the little devils ran,
And he said: “Go husk this whimpering thief that comes in the guise of a man:
Winnow him out ‘twixt star and star, and sieve his proper worth:
There’s sore decline in Adam’s line if this be spawn of earth.”

Empusa’s crew, so naked-new they may not face the fire,
But weep that they bin too small to sin to the height of their desire,
Over the coal they chased the Soul, and racked it all abroad,
As children rifle a caddis-case or the raven’s foolish hoard.

And back they came with the tattered Thing, as children after play,
And they said: “The soul that he got from God he has bartered clean away.

“We have threshed a stook of print and book, and winnowed a chattering wind
And many a soul wherefrom he stole, but his we cannot find:
We have handled him, we have dandled him, we have seared him to the bone,
And sure if tooth and nail show truth he has no soul of his own.”
The Devil he bowed his head on his breast and rumbled deep and low:—
“I’m all o’er-sib to Adam’s breed that I should bid him go.

“Yet close we lie, and deep we lie, and if I gave him place,
My gentlemen that are so proud would flout me to my face;
They’d call my house a common stews and me a careless host,
And — I would not anger my gentlemen for the sake of a shiftless ghost.”
The Devil he looked at the mangled Soul that prayed to feel the flame,
And he thought of Holy Charity, but he thought of his own good name:—
“Now ye could haste my coal to waste, and sit ye down to fry:
Did ye think of that theft for yourself?” said he; and Tomlinson said, “Ay!”
The Devil he blew an outward breath, for his heart was free from care:—
“Ye have scarce the soul of a louse,” he said, “but the roots of sin are
there,
And for that sin should ye come in were I the lord alone.
But sinful pride has rule inside — and mightier than my own.

“Honour and Wit, fore-damned they sit, to each his priest and whore:
Nay, scarce I dare myself go there, and you they’d torture sore.

“Ye are neither spirit nor spirk,” he said;
     “ye are neither book nor brute —
Go, get ye back to the flesh again for the sake of Man’s repute.

“I’m all o’er-sib to Adam’s breed that I should mock your pain,
But look that ye win to worthier sin ere ye come back again.
Get hence, the hearse is at your door — the grim black stallions wait —
They bear your clay to place today. Speed, lest ye come too late!
Go back to Earth with a lip unsealed — go back with an open eye,
And carry my word to the Sons of Men or ever ye come to die:
That the sin they do by two and two they must pay for one by one —
And. . .the God that you took from a printed book be with you, Tomlinson!”

Barrack-Room Ballads

Dedication

     To T. A.

         I have made for you a song,
         And it may be right or wrong,
     But only you can tell me if it’s true;
         I have tried for to explain
         Both your pleasure and your pain,
     And, Thomas, here’s my best respects to you!

         O there’ll surely come a day
         When they’ll give you all your pay,
     And treat you as a Christian ought to do;
         So, until that day comes round,
         Heaven keep you safe and sound,
     And, Thomas, here’s my best respects to you!
                          — R. K.

Danny Deever

“What are the bugles blowin’ for?” said Files-on-Parade.

“To turn you out, to turn you out”, the Colour–Sergeant said.

“What makes you look so white, so white?” said Files-on-Parade.

“I’m dreadin’ what I’ve got to watch”, the Colour–Sergeant said.

    For they’re hangin’ Danny Deever, you can hear the Dead March play,
    The regiment’s in ‘ollow square — they’re hangin’ him today;
    They’ve taken of his buttons off an’ cut his stripes away,
    An’ they’re hangin’ Danny Deever in the mornin’.

“What makes the rear-rank breathe so ‘ard?” said Files-on-Parade.

“It’s bitter cold, it’s bitter cold”, the Colour–Sergeant said.

“What makes that front-rank man fall down?” said Files-on-Parade.

“A touch o’ sun, a touch o’ sun”, the Colour–Sergeant said.

    They are hangin’ Danny Deever, they are marchin’ of ’im round,
    They ‘ave ‘alted Danny Deever by ‘is coffin on the ground;
    An’ ‘e’ll swing in ‘arf a minute for a sneakin’ shootin’ hound —
    O they’re hangin’ Danny Deever in the mornin’!

“‘Is cot was right-‘and cot to mine”, said Files-on-Parade.

“‘E’s sleepin’ out an’ far tonight”, the Colour–Sergeant said.

“I’ve drunk ‘is beer a score o’ times”, said Files-on-Parade.

“‘E’s drinkin’ bitter beer alone”, the Colour–Sergeant said.

    They are hangin’ Danny Deever, you must mark ’im to ‘is place,
    For ‘e shot a comrade sleepin’— you must look ’im in the face;
    Nine ‘undred of ‘is county an’ the regiment’s disgrace,
    While they’re hangin’ Danny Deever in the mornin’.

“What’s that so black agin’ the sun?” said Files-on-Parade.

“It’s Danny fightin’ ‘ard for life”, the Colour–Sergeant said.

“What’s that that whimpers over’ead?” said Files-on-Parade.

“It’s Danny’s soul that’s passin’ now”, the Colour–Sergeant said.

    For they’re done with Danny Deever, you can ‘ear the quickstep play,
    The regiment’s in column, an’ they’re marchin’ us away;
    Ho! the young recruits are shakin’, an’ they’ll want their beer today,
    After hangin’ Danny Deever in the mornin’.

Tommy

I went into a public-’ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
    O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
    But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,
    The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
    O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;
    But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,
    The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
    O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.

    Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?”
    But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
    The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
    O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
    While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that,
         an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind”,
    But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”,
         when there’s trouble in the wind,
    There’s trouble in the wind, my boys,
         there’s trouble in the wind,
    O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”,
         when there’s trouble in the wind.

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.

    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
    But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
    An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
    An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

Fuzzy-Wuzzy

(Soudan Expeditionary Force)

We’ve fought with many men acrost the seas,
  An’ some of ’em was brave an’ some was not:
The Paythan an’ the Zulu an’ Burmese;
  But the Fuzzy was the finest o’ the lot.

We never got a ha’porth’s change of ’im:
  ‘E squatted in the scrub an’ ‘ocked our ‘orses,
‘E cut our sentries up at Suakim,
  An’ ‘e played the cat an’ banjo with our forces.

    So ’ere’s to you, Fuzzy–Wuzzy, at your ‘ome in the Soudan;
    You’re a pore benighted ‘eathen but a first-class fightin’ man;
    We gives you your certificate, an’ if you want it signed
    We’ll come an’ ‘ave a romp with you whenever you’re inclined.

We took our chanst among the Khyber ‘ills,
  The Boers knocked us silly at a mile,
The Burman give us Irriwaddy chills,
  An’ a Zulu impi dished us up in style:
But all we ever got from such as they
  Was pop to what the Fuzzy made us swaller;
We ‘eld our bloomin’ own, the papers say,
  But man for man the Fuzzy knocked us ‘oller.

    Then ’ere’s to you, Fuzzy–Wuzzy, an’ the missis and the kid;
    Our orders was to break you, an’ of course we went an’ did.
    We sloshed you with Martinis, an’ it wasn’t ‘ardly fair;
    But for all the odds agin’ you, Fuzzy–Wuz, you broke the square.

‘E ‘asn’t got no papers of ‘is own,
  ‘E ‘asn’t got no medals nor rewards,
So we must certify the skill ‘e’s shown
  In usin’ of ‘is long two-‘anded swords:
When ‘e’s ‘oppin’ in an’ out among the bush
  With ‘is coffin-‘eaded shield an’ shovel-spear,
An ‘appy day with Fuzzy on the rush
  Will last an ‘ealthy Tommy for a year.

    So ’ere’s to you, Fuzzy–Wuzzy, an’ your friends which are no more,
    If we ‘adn’t lost some messmates we would ‘elp you to deplore;
    But give an’ take’s the gospel, an’ we’ll call the bargain fair,
    For if you ‘ave lost more than us, you crumpled up the square!

‘E rushes at the smoke when we let drive,
  An’, before we know, ‘e’s ‘ackin’ at our ‘ead;
‘E’s all ‘ot sand an’ ginger when alive,
  An’ ‘e’s generally shammin’ when ‘e’s dead.

‘E’s a daisy, ‘e’s a ducky, ‘e’s a lamb!
  ‘E’s a injia-rubber idiot on the spree,
‘E’s the on’y thing that doesn’t give a damn
  For a Regiment o’ British Infantree!
    So ’ere’s to you, Fuzzy–Wuzzy, at your ‘ome in the Soudan;
    You’re a pore benighted ‘eathen but a first-class fightin’ man;
    An’ ’ere’s to you, Fuzzy–Wuzzy, with your ‘ayrick ‘ead of ‘air —
    You big black boundin’ beggar — for you broke a British square!

Soldier, Soldier

“Soldier, soldier come from the wars,
Why don’t you march with my true love?”
“We’re fresh from off the ship an’ ‘e’s maybe give the slip,
An’ you’d best go look for a new love.”
    New love! True love!
    Best go look for a new love,
    The dead they cannot rise, an’ you’d better dry your eyes,
    An’ you’d best go look for a new love.

“Soldier, soldier come from the wars,
What did you see o’ my true love?”
“I seed ’im serve the Queen in a suit o’ rifle-green,
An’ you’d best go look for a new love.”

“Soldier, soldier come from the wars,
Did ye see no more o’ my true love?”
“I seed ’im runnin’ by when the shots begun to fly —
But you’d best go look for a new love.”

“Soldier, soldier come from the wars,
Did aught take ‘arm to my true love?”
“I couldn’t see the fight, for the smoke it lay so white —
An’ you’d best go look for a new love.”

“Soldier, soldier come from the wars,
I’ll up an’ tend to my true love!”
“‘E’s lying on the dead with a bullet through ‘is ‘ead,
An’ you’d best go look for a new love.”

“Soldier, soldier come from the wars,
I’ll down an’ die with my true love!”
“The pit we dug’ll ‘ide ’im an’ the twenty men beside ’im-
An’ you’d best go look for a new love.”

“Soldier, soldier come from the wars,
Do you bring no sign from my true love?”
“I bring a lock of ‘air that ‘e allus used to wear,
An’ you’d best go look for a new love.”

“Soldier, soldier come from the wars,
O then I know it’s true I’ve lost my true love!”
“An’ I tell you truth again — when you’ve lost the feel o’ pain
You’d best take me for your true love.”
    True love! New love!
    Best take ’im for a new love,
    The dead they cannot rise, an’ you’d better dry your eyes,
    An’ you’d best take ’im for your true love.

Screw-Guns

Smokin’ my pipe on the mountings,
           sniffin’ the mornin’ cool,
I walks in my old brown gaiters
           along o’ my old brown mule,
With seventy gunners be’ind me,
           an’ never a beggar forgets
It’s only the pick of the Army
           that handles the dear little pets —‘Tss! ‘Tss!
    For you all love the screw-guns — the screw-guns they all love you!
    So when we call round with a few guns,
              o’ course you will know what to do — hoo! hoo!
    Jest send in your Chief an’ surrender —
              it’s worse if you fights or you runs:
    You can go where you please, you can skid up the trees,
              but you don’t get away from the guns!

They sends us along where the roads are,
          but mostly we goes where they ain’t:
We’d climb up the side of a sign-board
          an’ trust to the stick o’ the paint:
We’ve chivied the Naga an’ Looshai,
          we’ve give the Afreedeeman fits,
For we fancies ourselves at two thousand,
          we guns that are built in two bits —‘Tss! ‘Tss!
    For you all love the screw-guns . . .

If a man doesn’t work, why, we drills ’im
          an’ teaches ’im ‘ow to behave;
If a beggar can’t march, why, we kills ’im
          an’ rattles ’im into ‘is grave.
You’ve got to stand up to our business
          an’ spring without snatchin’ or fuss.
D’you say that you sweat with the field-guns?
          By God, you must lather with us —‘Tss! ‘Tss!
    For you all love the screw-guns . . .

The eagles is screamin’ around us,
          the river’s a-moanin’ below,
We’re clear o’ the pine an’ the oak-scrub,
          we’re out on the rocks an’ the snow,
An’ the wind is as thin as a whip-lash
          what carries away to the plains
The rattle an’ stamp o’ the lead-mules —
          the jinglety-jink o’ the chains —‘Tss! ‘Tss!
    For you all love the screw-guns . . .

There’s a wheel on the Horns o’ the Mornin’,
          an’ a wheel on the edge o’ the Pit,
An’ a drop into nothin’ beneath you as straight as a beggar can spit:
With the sweat runnin’ out o’ your shirt-sleeves,
          an’ the sun off the snow in your face,
An’ ‘arf o’ the men on the drag-ropes
          to hold the old gun in ‘er place —‘Tss! ‘Tss!
    For you all love the screw-guns . . .

Smokin’ my pipe on the mountings,
           sniffin’ the mornin’ cool,
I climbs in my old brown gaiters
           along o’ my old brown mule.
The monkey can say what our road was —
           the wild-goat ‘e knows where we passed.

Stand easy, you long-eared old darlin’s!
           Out drag-ropes! With shrapnel! Hold fast —‘Tss! ‘Tss!

    For you all love the screw-guns — the screw-guns they all love
you!
    So when we take tea with a few guns,
              o’ course you will know what to do — hoo! hoo!
    Jest send in your Chief an’ surrender —
              it’s worse if you fights or you runs:
    You may hide in the caves, they’ll be only your graves,
              but you can’t get away from the guns!

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! slippy hitherao!
      Water, get it! Panee lao! 1
  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!” 2
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 3in it
      Or I’ll marrow 4you 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 5on ‘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!

1Bring water swiftly.

2Mr Atkins’ equivalent for “O Brother.”

3Hit you.

4Be quick.

5Water skin.

Oonts

(Northern India Transport Train)

Wot makes the soldier’s ’eart to @penk, wot makes ’im to perspire?
It isn’t standin’ up to charge nor lyin’ down to fire;
But it’s everlastin’ waitin’ on a everlastin’ road
For the commissariat camel an’ ‘is commissariat load.
    O the oont, 6O the oont, O the commissariat oont!
     With ‘is silly neck a-bobbin’ like a basket full o’ snakes;
    We packs ’im like an idol, an’ you ought to ‘ear ’im grunt,
     An’ when we gets ’im loaded up ‘is blessed girth-rope breaks.

Wot makes the rear-guard swear so ‘ard when night is drorin’ in,
An’ every native follower is shiverin’ for ‘is skin?
It ain’t the chanst o’ being rushed by Paythans from the ‘ills,
It’s the commissariat camel puttin’ on ‘is bloomin’ frills!
    O the oont, O the oont, O the hairy scary oont!
     A-trippin’ over tent-ropes when we’ve got the night alarm!
    We socks ’im with a stretcher-pole an’ ‘eads ’im off in front,
     An’ when we’ve saved ‘is bloomin’ life ‘e chaws our bloomin’ arm.

The ‘orse ‘e knows above a bit, the bullock’s but a fool,
The elephant’s a gentleman, the battery-mule’s a mule;
But the commissariat cam-u-el, when all is said an’ done,
‘E’s a devil an’ a ostrich an’ a orphan-child in one.
    O the oont, O the oont, O the Gawd-forsaken oont!
     The lumpy-‘umpy ‘ummin’-bird a-singin’ where ‘e lies,
    ‘E’s blocked the whole division from the rear-guard to the front,
     An’ when we get him up again — the beggar goes an’ dies!

‘E’ll gall an’ chafe an’ lame an’ fight —‘e smells most awful vile;
‘E’ll lose ‘isself for ever if you let ’im stray a mile;
‘E’s game to graze the ‘ole day long an’ ‘owl the ‘ole night through,
An’ when ‘e comes to greasy ground ‘e splits ‘isself in two.
    O the oont, O the oont, O the floppin’, droppin’ oont!
     When ‘is long legs give from under an’ ‘is meltin’ eye is dim,
    The tribes is up be’ind us, and the tribes is out in front —
     It ain’t no jam for Tommy, but it’s kites an’ crows for ’im.

So when the cruel march is done, an’ when the roads is blind,
An’ when we sees the camp in front an’ ‘ears the shots be’ind,
Ho! then we strips ‘is saddle off, and all ‘is woes is past:
‘E thinks on us that used ’im so, and gets revenge at last.
    O the oont, O the oont, O the floatin’, bloatin’ oont!
     The late lamented camel in the water-cut ‘e lies;
    We keeps a mile be’ind ’im an’ we keeps a mile in front,
     But ‘e gets into the drinkin’-casks, and then o’ course we dies.

1Camel — oo is pronounced like u in “bull,” but by Mr. Atkins to
rhyme with “front.”

Loot

If you’ve ever stole a pheasant-egg be’ind the keeper’s back,
 If you’ve ever snigged the washin’ from the line,
If you’ve ever crammed a gander in your bloomin’ ‘aversack,
 You will understand this little song o’ mine.

But the service rules are ‘ard, an’ from such we are debarred,
 For the same with English morals does not suit.

    (Cornet: Toot! toot!)
W’y, they call a man a robber if ‘e stuffs ‘is marchin’ clobber
 With the —
(Chorus) Loo! loo! Lulu! lulu! Loo! loo! Loot! loot! loot!
               Ow the loot!
               Bloomin’ loot!
            That’s the thing to make the boys git up an’ shoot!
             It’s the same with dogs an’ men,
             If you’d make ’em come again
            Clap ’em forward with a Loo! loo! Lulu! Loot!
    (ff) Whoopee! Tear ’im, puppy! Loo! loo! Lulu! Loot! loot! loot!

If you’ve knocked a nigger edgeways when ‘e’s thrustin’ for your life,
 You must leave ’im very careful where ‘e fell;
An’ may thank your stars an’ gaiters if you didn’t feel ‘is knife
 That you ain’t told off to bury ’im as well.

Then the sweatin’ Tommies wonder as they spade the beggars under
 Why lootin’ should be entered as a crime;
So if my song you’ll ‘ear, I will learn you plain an’ clear
 ‘Ow to pay yourself for fightin’ overtime.

(Chorus) With the loot, . . .

Now remember when you’re ‘acking round a gilded Burma god
 That ‘is eyes is very often precious stones;
An’ if you treat a nigger to a dose o’ cleanin’-rod
 ‘E’s like to show you everything ‘e owns.

When ‘e won’t prodooce no more, pour some water on the floor
 Where you ‘ear it answer ‘ollow to the boot
    (Cornet: Toot! toot!)—
When the ground begins to sink, shove your baynick down the chink,
 An’ you’re sure to touch the —
(Chorus) Loo! loo! Lulu! Loot! loot! loot!
               Ow the loot! . . .

When from ’ouse to ’ouse you’re ‘unting, you must always work in pairs —
 It ‘alves the gain, but safer you will find —
For a single man gets bottled on them twisty-wisty stairs,
 An’ a woman comes and clobs ’im from be’ind.

When you’ve turned ’em inside out, an’ it seems beyond a doubt
 As if there weren’t enough to dust a flute
    (Cornet: Toot! toot!)—
Before you sling your ‘ook, at the ‘ousetops take a look,
 For it’s underneath the tiles they ‘ide the loot.

(Chorus) Ow the loot! . . .

You can mostly square a Sergint an’ a Quartermaster too,
 If you only take the proper way to go;
I could never keep my pickin’s, but I’ve learned you all I knew —
 An’ don’t you never say I told you so.

An’ now I’ll bid good-bye, for I’m gettin’ rather dry,
 An’ I see another tunin’ up to toot
    (Cornet: Toot! toot!)—
So ’ere’s good-luck to those that wears the Widow’s clo’es,
 An’ the Devil send ’em all they want o’ loot!
(Chorus) Yes, the loot,
               Bloomin’ loot!
            In the tunic an’ the mess-tin an’ the boot!
             It’s the same with dogs an’ men,
             If you’d make ’em come again
   (fff) Whoop ’em forward with a Loo! loo! Lulu! Loot! loot! loot!
            Heeya! Sick ’im, puppy! Loo! loo! Lulu! Loot! loot! loot!

‘Snarleyow’

This ‘appened in a battle to a batt’ry of the corps
Which is first among the women an’ amazin’ first in war;
An’ what the bloomin’ battle was I don’t remember now,
But Two’s off-lead ‘e answered to the name o’ Snarleyow.

    Down in the Infantry, nobody cares;
    Down in the Cavalry, Colonel ‘e swears;
    But down in the lead with the wheel at the flog
    Turns the bold Bombardier to a little whipped dog!

They was movin’ into action, they was needed very sore,
To learn a little schoolin’ to a native army corps,
They ‘ad nipped against an uphill, they was tuckin’ down the brow,
When a tricky, trundlin’ roundshot give the knock to Snarleyow.

They cut ’im loose an’ left ’im-‘e was almost tore in two —
But he tried to follow after as a well-trained ‘orse should do;
‘E went an’ fouled the limber, an’ the Driver’s Brother squeals:
“Pull up, pull up for Snarleyow —‘is head’s between ‘is ‘eels!”

The Driver ‘umped ‘is shoulder, for the wheels was goin’ round,
An’ there ain’t no “Stop, conductor!” when a batt’ry’s changin’ ground;
Sez ‘e: “I broke the beggar in, an’ very sad I feels,
But I couldn’t pull up, not for you — your ‘ead between your ‘eels!”

‘E ‘adn’t ‘ardly spoke the word, before a droppin’ shell
A little right the batt’ry an’ between the sections fell;
An’ when the smoke ‘ad cleared away, before the limber wheels,
There lay the Driver’s Brother with ‘is ‘ead between ‘is ‘eels.

Then sez the Driver’s Brother, an’ ‘is words was very plain,
“For Gawd’s own sake get over me, an’ put me out o’ pain.”
They saw ‘is wounds was mortial, an’ they judged that it was best,
So they took an’ drove the limber straight across ‘is back an’ chest.

The Driver ‘e give nothin’ ‘cept a little coughin’ grunt,
But ‘e swung ‘is ‘orses ‘andsome when it came to “Action Front!”
An’ if one wheel was juicy, you may lay your Monday head
’Twas juicier for the niggers when the case begun to spread.

The moril of this story, it is plainly to be seen:
You ‘avn’t got no families when servin’ of the Queen —
You ‘avn’t got no brothers, fathers, sisters, wives, or sons —
If you want to win your battles take an’ work your bloomin’ guns!

    Down in the Infantry, nobody cares;
    Down in the Cavalry, Colonel ‘e swears;
    But down in the lead with the wheel at the flog
    Turns the bold Bombardier to a little whipped dog!

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 today,
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’ lazy at 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 today.

   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 today.

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 today!

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 today.

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 today.

    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?” 2

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.1

    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?” 7

6Thomas’s first and firmest conviction is that he is a profound Orientalist and a fluent speaker of Hindustani. As a matter of fact, he depends largely on the sign-language.

7Why don’t you get on

This web edition published by:

eBooks@Adelaide
The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005