(Soudan Expeditionary Force)

We've fought with many men acrost the seas,
An' some of 'em was brave an' some was not:
The Paythan an' the Zulu an' Burmese;
But the Fuzzy was the finest o' the lot.
We never got a ha'porth's change of 'im:
'E squatted in the scrub an' 'ocked our 'orses,
'E cut our sentries up at Sua~kim~,
An' 'e played the cat an' banjo with our forces.
So 'ere's ~to~ you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your 'ome in the Soudan;
You're a pore benighted 'eathen but a first-class fightin' man;
We gives you your certificate, an' if you want it signed
We'll come an' 'ave a romp with you whenever you're inclined.

We took our chanst among the Khyber 'ills,
The Boers knocked us silly at a mile,
The Burman give us Irriwaddy chills,
An' a Zulu ~impi~ dished us up in style:
But all we ever got from such as they
Was pop to what the Fuzzy made us swaller;
We 'eld our bloomin' own, the papers say,
But man for man the Fuzzy knocked us 'oller.
Then 'ere's ~to~ you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, an' the missis and the kid;
Our orders was to break you, an' of course we went an' did.
We sloshed you with Martinis, an' it wasn't 'ardly fair;
But for all the odds agin' you, Fuzzy-Wuz, you broke the square.

'E 'asn't got no papers of 'is own,
'E 'asn't got no medals nor rewards,
So we must certify the skill 'e's shown
In usin' of 'is long two-'anded swords:
When 'e's 'oppin' in an' out among the bush
With 'is coffin-'eaded shield an' shovel-spear,
An 'appy day with Fuzzy on the rush
Will last an 'ealthy Tommy for a year.
So 'ere's ~to~ you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, an' your friends which are no more,
If we 'adn't lost some messmates we would 'elp you to deplore;
But give an' take's the gospel, an' we'll call the bargain fair,
For if you 'ave lost more than us, you crumpled up the square!

'E rushes at the smoke when we let drive,
An', before we know, 'e's 'ackin' at our 'ead;
'E's all 'ot sand an' ginger when alive,
An' 'e's generally shammin' when 'e's dead.
'E's a daisy, 'e's a ducky, 'e's a lamb!
'E's a injia-rubber idiot on the spree,
'E's the on'y thing that doesn't give a damn
For a Regiment o' British Infantree!
So 'ere's ~to~ you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your 'ome in the Soudan;
You're a pore benighted 'eathen but a first-class fightin' man;
An' 'ere's ~to~ you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, with your 'ayrick 'ead of 'air --
You big black boundin' beggar -- for you broke a British square!

by Rudyard Kipling

Comments (8)

As Daniel Brick correctly notes in his post, this poem is meant to address what has historically become known as modernist art, not merely what is modern and contemporary in time. There was an upheaval in society's perception of the speed at which world events took place beginning roughly with the industrial revolution and really coming to a head with the horrors of the great war (World War I) . Stevens argues in this poem that the pretty pictures, the expected rhythms and rhymes are no longer adequate to describe the events and emotions of this modern world. You cannot rely on the old scripts and simply repeat them with new variations. The way we live in the world became fundamentally different and the art that could apply and appeal to these new circumstances had to be new. Had to be addressed to the actual living understanding that takes place in a mind in the act of being present and finding a way to conduct itself amongst the newest of this world and its advancements. An art form, a work of art itself has to be as alive and in the moment as the author and the audience both. To achieve that symbiosis is the goal. Not by looking back at the old forms and the old works, but by perspicaciousness requiring insight and not a little bit work and active interaction. That investment is paid off by subjective internalization of the work. A transcendence that suffices to carry us forward and anneal some the wounds of ignorance and division. This is one Stevens more didactic poems and from that angle not really one of his most satisfying, in my opinion. But it holds keys to reading some of the seemingly more opaque and metaphorical pieces he wrote, because just about everything he ever published touches on the theme explicated here.
Its past was a souvenir.... thanks for posting.....
An instrument, twanging a wiry string that gives Sounds passing through sudden rightnesses, wholly Containing the mind, below which it cannot descend, Beyond which it has no will to rise................................................................... well observed modern mind of poets.
FIRST THINGS FIRST: not all poetry written in the present time is MODERN POETRY. Much of it is nowhere near Ezra Pound's requirement: MAKE IT NEW. The word MODERN refers not just to a shared passage of time, but a conception of THIS TIME and its particular needs. At very least the Modern Poem has to address, it not solve our current issues: it must suffice in fulfilling that task, or it's just pretty language and a nice but arbitrary way to pass the time, not to understand it or transform it. Neruda write about the ancient Incans killed by the Spanish: I COME TO SPEAK IN YOUR DEAD VOICES. He will be their witness. Stevens is saying something similar: Moderrn poetry must be so revelatory, so intimate, so personal that people reading think they are writing it. That the poetry and its meanings are already inside them, it they listen to the orphic depths of poetry which are fundamentally true.Stevens is always assuring is we have access to the same poetic depths he does, and we too can write the poem of the mind.
It has no will to rise! ! Thanks for sharing this poem with us.
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