Screw-Guns

Rudyard Kipling 1865 (Mumbai) – 1936 (London)

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!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:40 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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    "Screw-Guns" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 17 Jan. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/33332/screw-guns>.

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