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The Sergeant's Weddin' -- Rudyard Kipling

(Poem #880) The Sergeant's Weddin'
 'E was warned agin' 'er --
  That's what made 'im look;
 She was warned agin' 'im --
  That is why she took.
 'Wouldn't 'ear no reason,
  'Went an' done it blind;
 We know all about 'em,
  They've got all to find!

     Cheer for the Sergeant's weddin' --
     Give 'em one cheer more!
     Grey gun-'orses in the lando,
     An' a rogue is married to, etc.

 What's the use o' tellin'
  'Arf the lot she's been?
 'E's a bloomin' robber,
  An' 'e keeps canteen.
 'Ow did 'e get 'is buggy?
  Gawd, you needn't ask!
 'Made 'is forty gallon
  Out of every cask!

 Watch 'im, with 'is 'air cut,
  Count us filin' by --
 Won't the Colonel praise 'is
  Pop -- u -- lar -- i -- ty!
 We 'ave scores to settle --
  Scores for more than beer;
 She's the girl to pay 'em --
  That is why we're 'ere!

 See the chaplain thinkin'?
  See the women smile?
 Twig the married winkin'
  As they take the aisle?
 Keep your side-arms quiet,
  Dressin' by the Band.
 Ho! You 'oly beggars,
  Cough be'ind your 'and!

 Now it's done an' over,
  'Ear the organ squeak,
 "'Voice that breathed o'er Eden" --
  Ain't she got the cheek!
 White an' laylock ribbons,
  Think yourself so fine!
 I'd pray Gawd to take yer
  'Fore I made yer mine!

 Escort to the kerridge,
  Wish 'im luck, the brute!
 Chuck the slippers after --
  [Pity 'tain't a boot!]
 Bowin' like a lady,
  Blushin' like a lad --
 'Oo would say to see 'em
  Both is rotten bad?

     Cheer for the Sergeant's weddin' --
      Give 'em one cheer more!
     Grey gun-'orses in the lando,
      An' a rogue is married to, etc.
-- Rudyard Kipling
Note: The "etc." in the chorus is pretty clearly "an 'ore"; I have no idea
why the bowdlerisation, which seems fairly uncharacteristic of Kipling.

Kipling has written the occasional dialect poem; like most such poems, there
is a certain tension between the fact that the dialect is an integral part
of the mood the poet wishes to convey, and the fact that it often gets in
the way of the poem, hindering rather than helping the reader. Of course,
like most Kipling, he's done a remarkably good job of it; the poem flows
smoothly, the dialect and the metre blending seamlessly.

It helps, of course, that the dialect is fairly easy to read; mostly the
dropped 'h's and the occasional altered spelling - really more an accent
than a dialect. And it *does* work here; the impression of a bunch of
jeering soldiers comes across far more clearly than it would have in cleaned
up, formal English.


  Leslie Fish's musical setting changes 'rogue' to 'bastard' in the refrain;
given that it already requires one level of unbowdlerisation, this seems
rather appropriate.


  Kipling biography: poem #17

  "The Voice that Breathed O'er Eden":
    [broken link]

  And, of course, all the Kipling poems we've run previously,
    [broken link]


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