Departmental Ditties and Barrack Room Ballads

#Poetry #General
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Excerpt DEPARTMENTAL DITTIES I have eaten your bread and salt,I have drunk your water and wine,The deaths ye died I have watched beside,And the lives that ye led were mine.Was there aught that I did not shareIn vigil or toil or ease,One joy or woe that I did not know,Dear hearts across the seas?I have written the tale of our lifeFor a sheltered people's mirth,In jesting guise—but ye are wise,And ye know what the jest is worth. GENERAL SUMMARY We are very slightly changedFrom the semi-apes who rangedIndia's prehistoric clay;Whoso drew the longest bow,Ran his brother down, you know,As we run men down today."Dowb," the first of all his race,Met the Mammoth face to faceOn the lake or in the cave,Stole the steadiest canoe,Ate the quarry others slew,Died—and took the finest grave.When they scratched the reindeer-boneSomeone made the sketch his own,Filched it from the artist—then,Even in those early days,Won a simple Viceroy's praiseThrough the toil of other men.Ere they hewed the Sphinx's visageFavoritism governed kissage,Even as it does in this age.Who shall doubt the secret hidUnder Cheops' pyramidWas that the contractor didCheops out of several millions?Or that Joseph's sudden riseTo Comptroller of SuppliesWas a fraud of monstrous sizeOn King Pharoah's swart Civilians?Thus, the artless songs I singDo not deal with anythingNew or never said before.As it was in the beginning,Is today official sinning,And shall be forevermore. ARMY HEADQUARTERS Old is the song that I sing—Old as my unpaid bills—Old as the chicken that kitmutgars bringMen at dak-bungalows—old as the Hills.Ahasuerus Jenkins of the "Operatic Own"Was dowered with a tenor voice of super-Santley tone.His views on equitation were, perhaps, a trifle queer;He had no seat worth mentioning, but oh! he had an ear.He clubbed his wretched company a dozen times a day,He used to quit his charger in a parabolic way,His method of saluting was the joy of all beholders,But Ahasuerus Jenkins had a head upon his shoulders.He took two months to Simla when the year was at the spring,And underneath the deodars eternally did sing.He warbled like a bulbul, but particularly atCornelia Agrippina who was musical and fat.She controlled a humble husband, who, in turn, controlled a Dept.,Where Cornelia Agrippina's human singing-birds were keptFrom April to October on a plump retaining fee,Supplied, of course, per mensem, by the Indian Treasury.Cornelia used to sing with him, and Jenkins used to play;He praised unblushingly her notes, for he was false as they:So when the winds of April turned the budding roses brown,Cornelia told her husband: "Tom, you mustn't send him down."They haled him from his regiment which didn't much regret him;They found for him an office-stool, and on that stool they set him,To play with maps and catalogues three idle hours a day,And draw his plump retaining fee—which means his double pay.Now, ever after dinner, when the coffeecups are brought,Ahasuerus waileth o'er the grand pianoforte;And, thanks to fair Cornelia, his fame hath waxen great,And Ahasuerus Jenkins is a power in the State. ...
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