A Soldier Of Weight

A poem by John Kendall

In the dim and distant ages, in the half-forgotten days,
Ere the East became the fashion and an Indian tour the craze,
Lived a certain Major-General, renowned throughout the State
As a soldier of distinction and considerable weight.

But though weightiness of mind is an invaluable trait,
When applied to adiposity it's all the other way;
And our hero was confronted with an ever-growing lack
Of the necessary charger and the hygienic hack.

He had bought them by the dozen, he had tried them by the score,
But not one of them was equal to the burden that he bore;
They were conscious of the honour, they were sound in wind and limb,
They could carry a cathedral, but they drew the line at him.

But he stuck to it, till finally his pressing needs were filled
By the mammoth of his species, a Leviathan in build,
A superb upstanding brown, of unexceptionable bone,
And phenomenally qualified to carry twenty stone.

And the General was happy; for the noble creature showed
An unruffled acquiescence with the nature of his load;
Till without the slightest warning, that superb upstanding brown
Thought it time to make a protest, which he did by lying down.

They appealed to him, reproached him, gave him sugar, cut his feed,
But in vain; for almost daily that inexorable steed,
When he heard his master coming, looked insultingly around,
And with cool deliberation laid him down upon the ground.

But they fought it out between them, till the undefeated brute
Made a humorous obeisance at the General Salute!
Then his owner kicked him wildly in the stomach for his pranks,
Said he'd stand the beast no longer, and returned him to the ranks.

(An interval of about three years.)

Time has dulled our hero's anguish; time has raised our man of weight
To an even higher office in the service of the State;
And we find him at his yearly tour, inspecting at his ease
A distinguished corps of cavalry, the Someone's Own D. G.'s.

And our fat but famous man of war, accoutred to the nines,
Was engaged in making rude remarks, and going round the lines,
When he suddenly beheld across an intervening space
A Leviathan of horseflesh, the Behemoth of his race.

'Colonel Robinson,' he shouted, with enthusiastic force,
'A remarkably fine horse, sir!' The remarkably fine horse
Gave a reminiscent shudder, looked insultingly around,
And with cold deliberation laid him down upon the ground!

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