Verse > Rudyard Kipling > Verse: 1885–1918
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Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).  Verse: 1885–1918.  1922.
 
Columns
 
(Mobile Columns of the Boer War)

OUT o’ the wilderness, dusty an’ dry
  (Time, an ’igh time to be trekkin’ again!)
’Oo is it ’eads to the Detail Supply?
  A section, a pompom, an’ six ’undred men.
 
’Ere comes the clerk with ’is lantern an’ keys        5
  (Time, an’ ’igh time to be trekkin’ again!)
“Surplus of everything—draw what you please
  “For the section, the pompom, an’ six ’undred men.”
 
“What are our orders an’ where do we lay?”
  (Time, an’ ’igh time to be trekkin’ again!)        10
“You came after dark—you will leave before day,
  “You section, you pompom, you six ’undred men!”
 
Down the tin street, ’alf awake an’ unfed,
’Ark to ’em blessin’ the Gen’ral in bed!
 
Now by the church an’ the outspan they wind—        15
Over the ridge an’ it’s all lef be’ind
  For the section, etc.
 
Soon they will camp as the dawn’s growin’ grey,
Roll up for coffee an’ sleep while they may—
  The section, etc.        20
 
Read their ’ome letters, their papers an’ such,
For they’ll move after dark to astonish the Dutch
  With a section, etc.
 
’Untin’ for shade as the long hours pass—
Blankets on rifles or burrows in grass,        25
  Lies the section, etc.
 
Dossin’ or beatin’ a shirt in the sun,
Watching chameleons or cleanin’ a gun,
  Waits the section, etc.
 
With nothin’ but stillness as far as you please,        30
An’ the silly mirage stringin’ islands an’ seas
  Round the section, etc.
 
So they strips off their hide an’ they grills in their bones,
Till the shadows crawl out from beneath the pore stones
  Towards the section, etc.        35
 
An’ the Mauser-bird stops an’ the jackals begin,
An’ the ’orse-guard comes up and the Gunners ’ook in
  As a ’int to the pompom an’ six ’undred men….
 
Off through the dark with the stars to rely on—
(Alpha Centauri an’ somethin’ Orion)        40
  Moves the section, etc.
 
Same bloomin’ ’ole which the ant-bear ’as broke,
Same bloomin’ stumble an’ same bloomin’ joke
  Down the section, etc.
 
Same “which is right?” where the cart-tracks divide,        45
Same “give it up” from the same clever guide
  To the section, etc.
 
Same tumble-down on the same ’idden farm,
Same white-eyed Kaffir ’oo gives the alarm
  Of the section, etc.        50
 
Same shootin’ wild at the end o’ the night,
Same flyin’-tackle an’ same messy fight,
  By the section, etc.
 
Same ugly ’iccup an’ same ’orrid squeal,
When it’s too dark to see an’ it’s too late to feel        55
  In the section, etc.
 
(Same batch of prisoners, ’airy an’ still,
Watchin’ their comrades bolt over the ’ill
  From the section, etc.)
 
Same chilly glare in the eye of the sun        60
As ’e gets up displeasured to see what was done
  By the section, etc.
 
Same splash o’ pink on the stoep or the kraal,
An’ the same quiet face which ’as finished with all
  In the section, the pompom, an’ six ’undred men.        65
 
Out o’ the wilderness, dusty an’ dry
  (Time, an’ ’igh time to be trekkin’ again!)
’Oo is it ’eads to the Detail Supply?
  A section, a pompom, an’ six ’undred men.
 
 
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