Verse > Rudyard Kipling > Verse: 1885–1918
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Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).  Verse: 1885–1918.  1922.
 
Mandalay
 
BY the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ eastward to the sea,
There’s a Burma girl a-settin’, and I know she thinks o’ me;
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say:
“Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!”
        Come you back to Mandalay,        5
        Where the old Flotilla lay:
        Can’t you ’ear their paddles chunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay?
        On the road to Mandalay,
        Where the flyin’-fishes play,
        An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ’crost the Bay!        10
 
’Er petticoat was yaller an’ ’er little cap was green,
An’ ’er name was Supi-yaw-lat—jes’ the same as Theebaw’s Queen,
An’ I seed her first a-smokin’ of a whackin’ white cheroot,
An’ a-wastin’ Christian kisses on an ’eathen idol’s foot:
        Bloomin’ idol made o’ mud—        15
        Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd—
        Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed ’er where she stud!
        On the road to Mandalay …
 
When the mist was on the rice-fields an’ the sun was droppin’ slow,
She’d git ’er little banjo an’ she’d sing “Kulla-lo-lo!”        20
With ’er arm upon my shoulder an’ ’er cheek agin my cheek
We useter watch the steamers an’ the hathis pilin’ teak.
        Elephints a-pilin’ teak
        In the sludgy, squdgy creek,
        Where the silence ’ung that ’eavy you was ’arf afraid to speak!        25
        On the road to Mandalay …
 
But that’s all shove be’ind me—long ago an’ fur away,
An’ there ain’t no ’busses runnin’ from the Bank to Mandalay;
An’ I’m learnin’ ’ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells:
“If you’ve ’eard the East a-callin’, you won’t never ’eed naught else.”        30
        No! you won’t ’eed nothin’ else
        But them spicy garlic smells,
        An’ the sunshine an’ the palm-trees an’ the tinkly temple-bells;
        On the road to Mandalay …
 
I am sick o’ wastin’ leather on these gritty pavin’-stones,        35
An’ the blasted Henglish drizzle wakes the fever in my bones;
Tho’ I walks with fifty ’ousemaids outer Chelsea to the Strand,
An’ they talks a lot o’ lovin’, but wot do they understand?
        Beefy face an’ grubby ’and—
        Law! wot do they understand?        40
        I’ve a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!
        On the road to Mandalay …
 
Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
Where there are n’t no Ten Commandments an’ a man can raise a thirst;
For the temple-bells are callin’, an’ it’s there that I would be—        45
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea;
        On the road to Mandalay,
        Where the old Flotilla lay,
        With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay!
        O the road to Mandalay,        50
        Where the flyin’-fishes play,
        An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ’crost the Bay!
 
 
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