Kipling

Departmental Ditties and Ballads and Barrack-Room Ballads

It is said that "during World War I troops on the march were forbidden to sing a catchy song entitled Colonel Bogey as the words they substituted for the real ones were not considered edifying."

So they whistle the Devil to make them sport who know that sin is vain.

The primary glory of Kipling's verse is musical, and is par excellence in "Tommy":

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.

He was not a jingo as George M. Cohan was, and glad of it. Nor would he have stood for the imposture of "supporting the troops" in any damn'd adventure.

"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
    mountain top?"

The genius is of observation. "But Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool—you bet that Tommy sees!" The great spanking orchestral effects of "Mandalay" are matched by

'I 'ope you liked your drink,' sez Gunga Din.

Criticism is generally of the order of the American minister who recited in the pulpit his poem, "Recessional":

Lest we forget—lest we forget!

and told his congregation, "They forgot!"

 

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