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Soldier An' Sailor Too

Rudyard Kipling 1865 (Mumbai) – 1936 (London)

As I was spittin' into the Ditch aboard o' the ~Crocodile~,
I seed a man on a man-o'-war got up in the Reg'lars' style.
'E was scrapin' the paint from off of 'er plates,
  an' I sez to 'im, ''Oo are you?'
Sez 'e, 'I'm a Jolly -- 'Er Majesty's Jolly -- soldier an' sailor too!'
Now 'is work begins by Gawd knows when, and 'is work is never through;
'E isn't one o' the reg'lar Line, nor 'e isn't one of the crew.
'E's a kind of a giddy harumfrodite -- soldier an' sailor too!
 
An' after I met 'im all over the world, a-doin' all kinds of things,
Like landin' 'isself with a Gatlin' gun to talk to them 'eathen kings;
'E sleeps in an 'ammick instead of a cot,
  an' 'e drills with the deck on a slew,
An' 'e sweats like a Jolly -- 'Er Majesty's Jolly -- soldier an' sailor too!
For there isn't a job on the top o' the earth the beggar don't know, nor do --
You can leave 'im at night on a bald man's 'ead, to paddle 'is own canoe --
'E's a sort of a bloomin' cosmopolouse -- soldier an' sailor too.
 
We've fought 'em in trooper, we've fought 'em in dock,
  and drunk with 'em in betweens,
When they called us the seasick scull'ry-maids,
  an' we called 'em the Ass Marines;
But, when we was down for a double fatigue, from Woolwich to Bernardmyo,
We sent for the Jollies -- 'Er Majesty's Jollies -- soldier an' sailor too!
They think for 'emselves, an' they steal for 'emselves,
  and they never ask what's to do,
But they're camped an' fed an' they're up an' fed before our bugle's blew.
Ho! they ain't no limpin' procrastitutes -- soldier an' sailor too.
 
You may say we are fond of an 'arness-cut, or 'ootin' in barrick-yards,
Or startin' a Board School mutiny along o' the Onion Guards;
But once in a while we can finish in style for the ends of the earth to view,
The same as the Jollies -- 'Er Majesty's Jollies -- soldier an' sailor too!
They come of our lot, they was brothers to us;
  they was beggars we'd met an' knew;
Yes, barrin' an inch in the chest an' the arm, they was doubles o' me an' you;
For they weren't no special chrysanthemums -- soldier an' sailor too!
 
To take your chance in the thick of a rush, with firing all about,
Is nothing so bad when you've cover to 'and, an' leave an' likin' to shout;
But to stand an' be still to the ~Birken'ead~ drill
  is a damn tough bullet to chew,
An' they done it, the Jollies -- 'Er Majesty's Jollies --
  soldier an' sailor too!
Their work was done when it 'adn't begun; they was younger nor me an' you;
Their choice it was plain between drownin' in 'eaps
  an' bein' mopped by the screw,
So they stood an' was still to the ~Birken'ead~ drill, soldier an' sailor too!
 
We're most of us liars, we're 'arf of us thieves,
  an' the rest are as rank as can be,
But once in a while we can finish in style
  (which I 'ope it won't 'appen to me).
But it makes you think better o' you an' your friends,
  an' the work you may 'ave to do,
When you think o' the sinkin' ~Victorier~'s Jollies -- soldier an' sailor too!
Now there isn't no room for to say ye don't know --
  they 'ave proved it plain and true --
That whether it's Widow, or whether it's ship, Victorier's work is to do,
An' they done it, the Jollies -- 'Er Majesty's Jollies --
  soldier an' sailor too!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:20 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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