Verse > Rudyard Kipling > Verse: 1885–1918
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Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).  Verse: 1885–1918.  1922.
 
Stellenbosh
 
(Composite Columns)

THE GENERAL ’eard the firin’ on the flank,
  An’ ’e sent a mounted man to bring ’im back
The silly, pushin’ person’s name an’ rank
  ’Oo’d dared to answer Brother Boer’s attack:
For there might ’ave been a serious engagement,        5
  An’ ’e might ’ave wasted ’alf a dozen men;
So ’e ordered ’im to stop ’is operations round the kopjes,
  An’ ’e told ’im off before the Staff at ten!
 
        And it all goes into the laundry,
        But it never comes out in the wash,        10
        ’Ow we’re sugared about by the old men
        (’Eavy-sterned amateur old men!)
        That ’amper an’ ’inder an’ scold men
        For fear o’ Stellenbosh!
 
The General ’ad “produced a great effect,”        15
  The General ’ad the country cleared—almost;
The General “’ad no reason to expect,”
  And the Boers ’ad us bloomin’ well on toast!
For we might ’ave crossed the drift before the twilight,
  Instead o’ sitting down an’ takin’ root;        20
But we was not allowed, so the Boojers scooped the crowd,
  To the last survivin’ bandolier an’ boot.
 
The General saw the farm’ouse in ’is rear,
  With its stoep so nicely shaded from the sun;
Sez ’e, “I’ll pitch my tabernacle ’ere,”        25
  An’ ’e kept us muckin’ round till ’e ’ad done.
For ’e might ’ave caught the confluent pneumonia
  From sleepin’ in his gaiters in the dew;
So ’e took a book an’ dozed while the other columns closed
  And De Wet’s commando out an’ trickled through!        30
 
The General saw the mountain-range ahead,
  With their ’elios showin’ saucy on the ’eight,
So ’e ’eld us to the level ground instead,
  An’ telegraphed the Boojers would n’t fight.
For ’e might ’ave gone an’ sprayed ’em with a pompom,        35
  Or ’e might ’ave slung a squadron out to see—
But ’e was n’t takin’ chances in them ’igh an’ ’ostile kranzes—
  He was markin’ time to earn a K. C. B.
 
The General got ’is decorations thick
  (The men that backed ’is lies could not complain),        40
The Staff ’ad D. S. O.’s till we was sick,
  An’ the soldier—’ad the work to do again!
For ’e might ’ave known the District was an ’otbed,
  Instead of ’andin’ over, upside-down,
To a man ’oo ’ad to fight ’alf a year to put it right,        45
  While the General went an’ slandered ’im in town!
 
        An’ it all went into the laundry,
        But it never came out in the wash.
        We were sugared about by the old men
        (Panicky, perishin’ old men)        50
        That ’amper an’ ’inder an’ scold men
        For fear o’ Stellenbosh!
 
 
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