Private Ortheris’s Song

A poem by Rudyard Kipling

My girl she give me the go onest,
When I was a London lad;
An’ I went on the drink for a fortnight,
An’ then I went to the bad.
The Queen she give me a shillin’
To fight for ’er over the seas;
But Guv’ment built me a fever-trap,
An’ Injia give me disease.

(Chorus) Ho! don’t you ’eed what a girl says,
An’ don’t you go for the beer;
But I was an ass when I was at grass,
An’ that is why I’m ’ere.

I fired a shot at a Afghan,
The beggar ’e fired again,
An’ I lay on my bed with a ’ole in my ’ed,
An’ missed the next campaign!
I up with my gun at a Burman
Who carried a bloomin’ dah,
But the cartridge stuck and the bay’nit bruk,
An’ all I got was the scar.

(Chorus) Ho! don’t you aim at a Afghan,
When you stand on the skyline clear;
An’ don’t you go for a Burman
If none o’ your friends is near.

I served my time for a Corp’ral,
An’ wetted my stripes with pop,
For I went on the bend with a intimate friend,
An’ finished the night in the “shop.”
I served my time for a Sergeant;
The Colonel ’e sez “No!
The most you’ll see is a full C.B.”
An’ . . . very next night ’twas so!

(Chorus) Ho! don’t you go for a Corp’ral
Unless your ’ed is clear;
But I was an ass when I was at grass,
An’ that is why I’m ’ere.

I’ve tasted the luck o’ the Army
In barrack an’ camp an’ clink,
An’ I lost my tip through the bloomin’ trip
Along o’ the women an’ drink.
I’m down at the heel o’ my service,
An’ when I am laid on the shelf,
My very worst friend from beginning to end
By the blood of a mouse was myself!

(Chorus) Ho! don’t you ’eed what a girl says,
An’ don’t you go for the beer;
But I was an ass when I was at grass,
An’ that is why I’m ’ere!

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