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Cholera Camp

Rudyard Kipling 1865 (Mumbai) – 1936 (London)

We've got the cholerer in camp -- it's worse than forty fights;
 We're dyin' in the wilderness the same as Isrulites;
It's before us, an' be'ind us, an' we cannot get away,
 An' the doctor's just reported we've ten more to-day!
 
  Oh, strike your camp an' go, the Bugle's callin',
  The Rains are fallin' --
  The dead are bushed an' stoned to keep 'em safe below;
  The Band's a-doin' all she knows to cheer us;
  The Chaplain's gone and prayed to Gawd to 'ear us --
  To 'ear us --
  O Lord, for it's a-killin' of us so!
 
Since August, when it started, it's been stickin' to our tail,
Though they've 'ad us out by marches an' they've 'ad us back by rail;
But it runs as fast as troop-trains, and we cannot get away;
An' the sick-list to the Colonel makes ten more to-day.
 
There ain't no fun in women nor there ain't no bite to drink;
It's much too wet for shootin', we can only march and think;
An' at evenin', down the ~nullahs~, we can 'ear the jackals say,
"Get up, you rotten beggars, you've ten more to-day!"
 
'Twould make a monkey cough to see our way o' doin' things --
Lieutenants takin' companies an' captains takin' wings,
An' Lances actin' Sergeants -- eight file to obey --
For we've lots o' quick promotion on ten deaths a day!
 
Our Colonel's white an' twitterly -- 'e gets no sleep nor food,
But mucks about in 'orspital where nothing does no good.
'E sends us 'eaps o' comforts, all bought from 'is pay --
But there aren't much comfort 'andy on ten deaths a day.
 
Our Chaplain's got a banjo, an' a skinny mule 'e rides,
An' the stuff 'e says an' sings us, Lord, it makes us split our sides!
With 'is black coat-tails a-bobbin' to ~Ta-ra-ra Boom-der-ay!~
'E's the proper kind o' ~padre~ for ten deaths a day.
 
An' Father Victor 'elps 'im with our Roman Catholicks --
He knows an 'eap of Irish songs an' rummy conjurin' tricks;
An' the two they works together when it comes to play or pray;
So we keep the ball a-rollin' on ten deaths a day.
 
We've got the cholerer in camp -- we've got it 'ot an' sweet;
It ain't no Christmas dinner, but it's 'elped an' we must eat.
We've gone beyond the funkin', 'cause we've found it doesn't pay,
An' we're rockin' round the Districk on ten deaths a day!
 
  Then strike your camp an' go, the Rains are fallin',
  The Bugle's callin'!
  The dead are bushed an' stoned to keep 'em safe below!
  An' them that do not like it they can lump it,
  An' them that cannot stand it they can jump it;
  We've got to die somewhere -- some way -- some'ow --
  We might as well begin to do it now!
  Then, Number One, let down the tent-pole slow,
  Knock out the pegs an' 'old the corners -- so!
  Fold in the flies, furl up the ropes, an' stow!
  Oh, strike -- oh, strike your camp an' go!
  (Gawd 'elp us!)

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:47 min read
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Rudyard Kipling

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English short-story writer, poet, and novelist chiefly remembered for his tales and poems of British soldiers in India and his tales for children. more…

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