Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Kipling Nailed It

After reading more articles and blogs about the shameful treatment of our soldiers and knowing that veterans are instantly suspect because "all you viet nam guys were junkies/hippies/frag happy killers..." well you understand. I also have enough baggage that attacks like that on me would be sorta like kicking a ball. Too damned easy to be compelling.

I, instead, offer Rudyard Kipling. Victorian, conservative, Masonic Brother, Imperialist, Racist, heck he's everything a neo-con would love. Except when it comes to poems like this. Offered without further comment

Rudyard Kipling

Tommy

I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o'beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:

O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's ``Thank you, Mister Atkins,'' when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's ``Thank you, Mr. Atkins,'' when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.

Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy how's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints:
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;

While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind,"
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country," when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
But Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!



You want to support our troops? There are many ways. Take the money you were going to spend on some more yellow ribbon decals and head on over to John Rogers
  • Kung Fu Monkey
  • he's got a button you can click to donate to The Fisher House which provides lodging for families who are visiting their wounded relatives in V.A. hospitals around the country. He's so cool that he will even match your donations.

    9 Comments:

    Blogger maurinsky said...

    The treatment of veterans is a large part of why my FIL (Marine, Korea, POW) turned from red to blue.

    5:41 AM  
    Blogger Dark Wraith said...

    Good morning, Minstrel Boy.

    A half a decade ago, I used the poem "Tommy" as the backdrop to an article I wrote when I was doing battle as a business consultant against a particularly difficult corporation.

    For some time, now, I've been considering republishing that article in my Wraith Classics series.



    The Dark Wraith might just do that one of these days pretty soon.

    6:21 AM  
    Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

    Kipling, I must confess, is a guilty pleasure of my reading. My being able to place him in his time and place, makes him seem less unique. He truly did buy into that whole "white man's burden" thing though. I think he felt that making improvements in the places of empire was a fair trade off. Having been shot at in several former colonies of the the British and other empires I beg to disagree with that position. I do, however, still admire the wit, decency and ear for dialogue that Kipling possesed. Tommy is one of the best statements of both the serving soldier's and veteran's issues. Hell, I felt like Tommy does in the poem on military bases in the rear. The REMFs got nervous and twitchy any time we came out of the boonies...

    but that's another story. Thanks for stopping and leaving your comments.

    8:15 AM  
    Anonymous Father Tyme said...

    Sadder to me is that these poems are germane. They should be for remembering a past not typifying a present.

    9:58 AM  
    Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

    yes, it is sad indeed. on reading my piece again it struck me that open combat situations, no matter how violent, are not the things that trouble me and keep me awake on "those" nights. innocents caught in the crossfire, witnessing acts that i could have either stopped or reported and did neither, young cherries nailed on their first or nearly first operation, stuff like that is what gets to me.

    10:09 AM  
    Blogger trog69 said...

    Just so you know, should you read my comment on the Dark Wraith Forums, I was not making light of drug addiction; I'm raising the children of a junkie now, and see her hell almost daily. Oh, and what you said about Kipling!

    12:13 AM  
    Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

    quite frankly t rogers, i thought the quip to be dead clever. a lot less snarky than my above posting...welcome to our free speech put your own spin on zone...

    12:43 AM  
    Blogger Dark Wraith said...

    And that's the good thing about a community of progressive intellectuals, my friends: everyone involved knows where the others are coming from, so the prior assumption is not that malevolent intent is involved.

    Unfortunately, we cannot extend the same generosity to those on the Right who speak to or about us: we know pretty much for a fact that they really do have malevolent intent in just about every word and deed.

    Funny about that: societies work for better or worse based not upon the statutes and rules, but upon the understandings that proceed from relationships at the much less formal level.


    The Dark Wraith thinks there might be a lesson in there somewhere.

    6:59 AM  
    Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

    Funny about that: societies work for better or worse based not upon the statutes and rules, but upon the understandings that proceed from relationships at the much less formal level.

    indeed, sir. yes indeed they do.

    9:20 AM  

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