Verse > Rudyard Kipling > Verse: 1885–1918
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Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936).  Verse: 1885–1918.  1922.
 
Army Headquarters
 
 Old is the song that I sing—
  Old as my unpaid bills—
Old as the chicken that kitmutgars 1 bring
  Men at dâk-bungalows—old as the Hills.

AHASUERUS JENKINS of the “Operatic Own,”
Was dowered with a tenor voice of super-Santley tone.
His views on equitation were, perhaps, a trifle queer.
He had no seat worth mentioning, but oh! he had an ear.
 
He clubbed his wretched company a dozen times a day;        5
He used to quit his charger in a parabolic way;
His method of saluting was the joy of all beholders,
But Ahasuerus Jenkins had a head upon his shoulders.
 
He took two months at Simla when the year was at the spring,
And underneath the deodars eternally did sing.        10
He warbled like a bul-bul 2 but particularly at
Cornelia Agrippina, who was musical and fat.
 
She controlled a humble husband, who, in turn, controlled a Dept.
Where Cornelia Agrippina’s human singing-birds were kept
From April to October on a plump retaining-fee,        15
Supplied, of course, per mensem, by the Indian Treasury.
 
Cornelia used to sing with him, and Jenkins used to play;
He praised unblushingly her notes, for he was false as they,
So when the winds of April turned the budding roses brown,
Cornelia told her husband:—“Tom, you mustn’t send him down.”        20
 
They haled him from his regiment, which didn’t much regret him;
They found for him an office-stool, and on that stool they set him
To play with maps and catalogues three idle hours a day,
And draw his plump retaining-fee—which means his double pay.
 
Now, ever after dinner, when the coffee-cups are brought,        25
Ahasuerus waileth o’er the grand pianoforte;
And, thanks to fair Cornelia, his fame hath waxen great,
And Ahasuerus Jenkins is a Power in the State!
 
Note 1. Waiters. [back]
Note 2. Nightingale. [back]
 
 
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