To Mandalay - Greeting

A poem by John Kendall



A song of Mandalay!
Allons, Camerados, Desperadoes, Amontillados!
Hear my Recitative, my Romanza, my Spring Onion!


You three-striped sergeants, you corporals, non-commissioned officers,
and men with one or more good-conduct badges,
You indifferent and bad characters, am I not also one with you?
And will you not then hear my song?
This for prelude.


You, O Mandalay, I sing!
For I see the pagoda, the Moulmein and essentially wotto pagoda,
And the pagoda is above the trees,
But the trees are below the pagoda.


I see the flying-fish sitting on the branches, I hear them sing,
and they fly and mate and build their nests in the branches;
I see a dun-coloured aboriginal she-female, mongolianée, petite, squat-faced,
And she has a cast in her sinister optic and a snub nose but her heart is true;
And I gaze into her heart (which is true), and I find that she is musing (as indeed I often muse) on ME,
Me Prononcè, Me Imperturbe, Me Inconscionabilamente.


I see [a page or so unavoidably omitted for lack of space, - refer to guide-book] and ... the wind, and the palm-trees idly swaying to and fro in the wind (now to, now fro), and I hear the bells of a temple, and I know that they are singing, and what it is that they would say.


What is it that they would say do you ask Me?


How shall I tell you, how shall I make you understand?
For I know that you do not love Me, you do not comprehend Me, you say that this sort of thing does you harm;
But I will even now do my darndest (as indeed I always do more or less), and if you do not like it,
Waal, Soldados?


Behold, I will write it as a song and put it in italics, so that even you will know that it is a song;
So listen, listen, Camerados! for I am about to spout and my song shall be masculine and virile. A bas your metre, à la lanterne your rhyme, conspuez your punctuation,
I say pooh-pooh!

Reader Comments

Tell us what you think of 'To Mandalay - Greeting' by John Kendall

comments powered by Disqus