Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
January 22
The Akond of Swat
By Edward Lear (1812–1888)
          On this day, Jan. 22, 1876, the ruler of a remote eastern principality died after a reign that had lasted from very early in the century and had been so peaceful and devoid of incident that very few people, outside of the British Foreign Office, knew of the existence of either Swat or its venerable ruler. Curiously enough, the publication of the demise of the Ahkoond of Swatz appealed simultaneously to the humorous sense of Mr. Edward Lear in England and of Mr. George T. Lanigan in America, and each of these distinguished versifiers celebrated the occasion in his own way.

WHO, or why, or which, or what,
                Is the Akond of Swat?
Is he tall or short, or dark or fair?
Does he sit on a stool or a sofa or chair,
                OR SQUAT?        5
                The Akond of Swat?
Is he wise or foolish, young or old?
Does he drink his soup or his coffee cold,
                OR HOT,
                The Akond of Swat?        10
Does he sing or whistle, jabber or talk,
And when riding abroad does he gallop or walk,
                OR TROT,
                The Akond of Swat?
Does he wear a turban, a fez or a hat?        15
Does he sleep on a matress, a bed, or a mat,
                OR A COT,
                The Akond of Swat?
When he writes a copy in round-hand size,
Does he cross his T’s and finish his I’s        20
                WITH A DOT,
                The Akond of Swat?
Can he write a letter concisely clear
Without a speck or a smudge or a smear
                OR BLOT,        25
                The Akond of Swat?
Do his people like him extremely well?
Or do they, whenever they can, rebel,
                OR PLOT,
                At the Akond of Swat?        30
If he catches them then, either old or young,
Does he have them chopped in pieces or hung,
                OR SHOT,
                The Akond of Swat?
Do his people prig in the lanes or park?        35
Or even at times when days are dark,
                O the Akond of Swat!
Does he study the wants of his own dominion?
Or doesn’t he care for public opinion        40
                A JOT,
                The Akond of Swat?
To amuse his mind do the people show him
Pictures, or any one’s last new poem,
                OR WHAT,        45
                For the Akond of Swat?
At night if he suddenly screams and wakes,
Do they bring him only a few small cakes,
                OR A LOT,
                For the Akond of Swat?        50
Does he live on turnips, tea, or tripe?
Does he like his shawl to be marked with a stripe,
                OR A DOT,
                The Akond of Swat?
Does he like to lie on his back in a boat        55
Like the lady who lived in that isle remote,
                The Akond of Swat?
Is he quiet or always making a fuss?
Is his steward a Swiss or a Swede or a Russ,        60
                OR A SCOT,
                The Akond of Swat?
Does he drink small beer from a silver
Or to sleep and snore in a dark green cave,
                OR A GROTT,        65
                The Akond of Swat?
Does he drink small beer from a silver jug?
Or a bowl? or a glass? or a cup? or a mug?
                OR A POT,
                The Akond of Swat?        70
Does he beat his wife with a gold-topped pipe,
When she lets the gooseberries grow too ripe,
                OR ROT,
                The Akond of Swat?
Does he wear a white tie when he dines with friends,        75
And tie it neat in a bow with ends,
                OR A KNOT,
                The Akond of Swat?
Does he like new cream and hate mince-pies?
When he looks at the sun does he wink his eyes,        80
                OR NOT,
                The Akond of Swat?
Does he teach his subjects to roast and bake?
Does he sail about on an inland lake,
                IN A YACHT,        85
                The Akond of Swat.
Some one, or nobody, knows I wot
Who or which or why or what
                Is the Akond of Swat.

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