Tuesday Poem – Boots by Rudyard Kipling

 

We’re foot, slog, slog, slog, sloggin’ over Africa,
Foot, foot, foot, foot, sloggin’ over Africa,
(Boots, boots, boots, boots, movin’ up and down again!)
There’s no discharge in the war!

Seven, six, eleven, five, nine-an’-twenty mile to-day,
Four, eleven, seventeen, thirty-two the day before,
(Boots, boots, boots, boots, movin’ up and down again!)
There’s no discharge in the war!

Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, look at what’s in front of you.
(Boots, boots, boots, boots, movin’ up an’ down again);
Men, men, men, men, men go mad with watchin’ em,
An’ there’s no discharge in the war!

Try, try, try, try, to think o’ something different,
Oh, my, God, keep, me from goin’ lunatic!
(Boots, boots, boots, boots, movin’ up an’ down again!)
There’s no discharge in the war!

Count, count, count, count, the bullets in the bandoliers.
If, your, eyes, drop, they will get atop o’ you!
(Boots, boots, boots, boots, movin’ up and down again),
There’s no discharge in the war!

We, can, stick, out, ‘unger, thirst, an’ weariness,
But, not, not, not, not the chronic sight of ’em,
Boot, boots, boots, boots, movin’ up an’ down again,
An’ there’s no discharge in the war!

‘Taint, so, bad, by, day because o’ company,
But night, brings, long, strings, o’ forty thousand million
Boots, boots, boots, boots, movin’ up an’ down again.
There’s no discharge in the war!

I, ‘ave, marched, six, weeks in ‘Ell an’ certify
It, is, not, fire, devils, dark, or anything,
But boots, boots, boots, boots, movin’ up an’ down again,
An’ there’s no discharge in the war!

 

Apart from its serious aspect of how it was for the troops, this poem has to be appreciated  for its marvellous rhythm. Boots appeared in Rudyard’s collection,The Five Nations, 1903. It is subtitled Infantry Columns and  refers to the Second Anglo Boer War. This war was the first to which New Zealand troops were sent, overseas, so I thought it an appropriate post at this time of Anzac (Australian and New Zealand army corps) remembrances.

“Eager to display New Zealand’s commitment to the British Empire, Premier Richard Seddon offered to send troops two weeks before conflict broke out. Hundreds of men applied to serve, and by the time war began in October 1899, the First Contingent was already preparing to depart for South Africa. Within a few months they would be fighting the Boers.” To read more go here.

Rudyard Kipling, born in Bombay, lived 1865 – 18 January 1936.

He was an English short-story writer,poet, and novelist and received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1907. He has a huge and fascinating writer’s history.

A portrait of Kipling painted by Collier in 1891

A portrait of Kipling painted by Collier in 1891

 

Kipling worked as a war reporter in the First World War. His only son died in that war at the age of 18. You can read more on this tragedy here.

And here’s a very old recording of Peter Dawson singing the song version of Boots.

To return to the Tuesday Poem Hub Page, where this week’s editor is a surprise guest introduced by Helen Rickerby, go here.

And remember to check out the other Tuesday Poets in the left hand sidebar.

Tuesday Poem – Cherish the Darkness

Leave the blackness
of another’s depths
for them
that is their right.

Instead cherish your own
dark spaces
gifts
which opened
shed a greater light.

(c) Helen McKinlay

A small poem which visited me once in a meditative moment. Coincidentally, Michelle Elvy’s choice of Tuesday Hub Poem for this week is about another kind of darkness. Beautifully written by Erica Goss,The Darkroom is a must read as is the accompanying interview on poetry and technology.

Return to the Tuesday Poem Hub here and make sure you delve into the selection of other Tuesday Poems while you’re there.