Departmental Ditties and other verses, by Rudyard Kipling

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

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Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:38