Barrack Room Ballads by Rudyard Kipling

Barrack Room Ballads

subjects: Poetry

Description

The Barrack-Room Ballads are a set of martial songs and poems by Rudyard Kipling originally published in two parts: the first set in 1892, the second in 1896. Many have become classic military ditties, still well known, and are closely linked to British imperialism in many minds, particularly Gunga Din, Tommy and Danny Deever.

Excerpt

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 to-day; 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 to-night”, 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 to-day, 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!