Rudyard Kipling

(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936 / Bombay)

The Shut-Eye Sentry


Sez the Junior Orderly Sergeant
To the Senior Orderly Man:
"Our Orderly Orf'cer's ~hokee-mut~,
You 'elp 'im all you can.
For the wine was old and the night is cold,
An' the best we may go wrong,
So, 'fore 'e gits to the sentry-box,
You pass the word along."

So it was "Rounds! What Rounds?" at two of a frosty night,
'E's 'oldin' on by the sergeant's sash, but, sentry, shut your eye.
An' it was "Pass! All's well!" Oh, ain't 'e drippin' tight!
'E'll need an affidavit pretty badly by-an'-by.

The moon was white on the barricks,
The road was white an' wide,
An' the Orderly Orf'cer took it all,
An' the ten-foot ditch beside.
An' the corporal pulled an' the sergeant pushed,
An' the three they danced along,
But I'd shut my eyes in the sentry-box,
So I didn't see nothin' wrong.

Though it was "Rounds! What Rounds?" O corporal, 'old 'im up!
'E's usin' 'is cap as it shouldn't be used, but, sentry, shut your eye.
An' it was "Pass! All's well!" Ho, shun the foamin' cup!
'E'll need, etc.

'Twas after four in the mornin';
We 'ad to stop the fun,
An' we sent 'im 'ome on a bullock-cart,
With 'is belt an' stock undone;
But we sluiced 'im down an' we washed 'im out,
An' a first-class job we made,
When we saved 'im, smart as a bombardier,
For six-o'clock parade.

It 'ad been "Rounds! What Rounds?" Oh, shove 'im straight again!
'E's usin' 'is sword for a bicycle, but, sentry, shut your eye.
An' it was "Pass! All's well!" 'E's called me "Darlin' Jane"!
'E'll need, etc.

The drill was long an' 'eavy,
The sky was 'ot an' blue,
An' 'is eye was wild an' 'is 'air was wet,
But 'is sergeant pulled 'im through.
Our men was good old trusties --
They'd done it on their 'ead;
But you ought to 'ave 'eard 'em markin' time
To 'ide the things 'e said!

For it was "Right flank -- wheel!" for "'Alt, an' stand at ease!"
An' "Left extend!" for "Centre close!" O marker, shut your eye!
An' it was, "'Ere, sir, 'ere! before the Colonel sees!"
So he needed affidavits pretty badly by-an'-by.

There was two-an'-thirty sergeants,
There was corp'rals forty-one,
There was just nine 'undred rank an' file
To swear to a touch o' sun.
There was me 'e'd kissed in the sentry-box,
As I 'ave not told in my song,
But I took my oath, which were Bible truth,
I 'adn't seen nothin' wrong.

There's them that's 'ot an' 'aughty,
There's them that's cold an' 'ard,
But there comes a night when the best gets tight,
And then turns out the Guard.
I've seen them 'ide their liquor
In every kind o' way,
But most depends on makin' friends
With Privit Thomas A.!

When it is "Rounds! What Rounds?" 'E's breathin' through 'is nose.
'E's reelin', rollin', roarin' tight, but, sentry, shut your eye.
An' it is "Pass! All's well!" An' that's the way it goes:
We'll 'elp 'im for 'is mother, an' 'e'll 'elp us by-an'-by!

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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