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Rudyard Kipling

(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936 / Bombay)

A Smuggler's Song


If you wake at midnight, and hear a horse's feet,
Don't go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street.
Them that ask no questions isn't told a lie.
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!
Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark --
Brandy for the Parson,
'Baccy for the Clerk;
Laces for a lady, letters for a spy,
And watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

Running round the woodlump if you chance to find
Little barrels, roped and tarred, all full of brandy-wine,
Don't you shout to come and look, nor use 'em for your play.
Put the brishwood back again -- and they'll be gone next day!

If you see the stable-door setting open wide;
If you see a tired horse lying down inside;
If your mother mends a coat cut about and tore;
If the lining's wet and warm -- don't you ask no more!

If you meet King George's men, dressed in blue and red,
You be carefull what you say, and mindful what is said.
If they call you "pretty maid," and chuck you 'neath the chin,
Don't you tell where no one is, nor yet where no one's been!

Knocks and footsteps round the house -- whistles after dark --
You've no call for running out till the house-dogs bark.
Trusty's here, and Pincher's here, and see how dumb they lie --
They don't fret to follow when the Gentlemen go by!

If you do as you've been told, 'likely there's a chance,
You'll be given a dainty doll, all the way from France,
With a cap of Valenciennes, and a velvet hood --
A present from the Gentlemen, along o' being good!
Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark --
Brandy for the Parson,
'Baccy for the Clerk;
Them that asks no questions isn't told a lie --
Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Dawn Vincent (3/23/2010 6:53:00 PM)

    First heard this poem from my sister, reciting it to me when I was 9/10yrs old, during a stormy night, (thunder and lighting) loved the visions it gave me as I drifted off to sleep listening to my sister's voice. (Report) Reply

  • Charley P (12/2/2007 12:57:00 PM)

    I must have been about 10 when I discovered this poem, and I read it so many times I ended up being able to recite it. I just love the way Rudyard Kipling's words flow with such unstoppable rhythm - he is my favourite poet and this is my favourite poem. (Report) Reply

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