Rudyard Kipling

(30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936 / Bombay)

Gunga Din - Poem by Rudyard Kipling

You may talk o' gin and beer
When you're quartered safe out 'ere,
An' you're sent to penny-fights an' Aldershot it;
But when it comes to slaughter
You will do your work on water,
An' you'll lick the bloomin' boots of 'im that's got it.
Now in Injia's sunny clime,
Where I used to spend my time
A-servin' of 'Er Majesty the Queen,
Of all them blackfaced crew
The finest man I knew
Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din.
He was "Din! Din! Din!
You limpin' lump o' brick-dust, Gunga Din!
Hi! slippery ~hitherao~!
Water, get it! ~Panee lao~! [Bring water swiftly.]
You squidgy-nosed old idol, Gunga Din."

The uniform 'e wore
Was nothin' much before,
An' rather less than 'arf o' that be'ind,
For a piece o' twisty rag
An' a goatskin water-bag
Was all the field-equipment 'e could find.
When the sweatin' troop-train lay
In a sidin' through the day,
Where the 'eat would make your bloomin' eyebrows crawl,
We shouted "Harry By!" [Mr. Atkins's equivalent for "O brother."]
Till our throats were bricky-dry,
Then we wopped 'im 'cause 'e couldn't serve us all.
It was "Din! Din! Din!
You 'eathen, where the mischief 'ave you been?
You put some ~juldee~ in it [Be quick.]
Or I'll ~marrow~ you this minute [Hit you.]
If you don't fill up my helmet, Gunga Din!"

'E would dot an' carry one
Till the longest day was done;
An' 'e didn't seem to know the use o' fear.
If we charged or broke or cut,
You could bet your bloomin' nut,
'E'd be waitin' fifty paces right flank rear.
With 'is ~mussick~ on 'is back, [Water-skin.]
'E would skip with our attack,
An' watch us till the bugles made "Retire",
An' for all 'is dirty 'ide
'E was white, clear white, inside
When 'e went to tend the wounded under fire!
It was "Din! Din! Din!"
With the bullets kickin' dust-spots on the green.
When the cartridges ran out,
You could hear the front-files shout,
"Hi! ammunition-mules an' Gunga Din!"

I shan't forgit the night
When I dropped be'ind the fight
With a bullet where my belt-plate should 'a' been.
I was chokin' mad with thirst,
An' the man that spied me first
Was our good old grinnin', gruntin' Gunga Din.
'E lifted up my 'ead,
An' he plugged me where I bled,
An' 'e guv me 'arf-a-pint o' water-green:
It was crawlin' and it stunk,
But of all the drinks I've drunk,
I'm gratefullest to one from Gunga Din.
It was "Din! Din! Din!
'Ere's a beggar with a bullet through 'is spleen;
'E's chawin' up the ground,
An' 'e's kickin' all around:
For Gawd's sake git the water, Gunga Din!"

'E carried me away
To where a dooli lay,
An' a bullet come an' drilled the beggar clean.
'E put me safe inside,
An' just before 'e died,
"I 'ope you liked your drink", sez Gunga Din.
So I'll meet 'im later on
At the place where 'e is gone --
Where it's always double drill and no canteen;
'E'll be squattin' on the coals
Givin' drink to poor damned souls,
An' I'll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!
Yes, Din! Din! Din!
You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!
Though I've belted you and flayed you,
By the livin' Gawd that made you,
You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

Comments about Gunga Din by Rudyard Kipling

  • Seema Jayaraman (9/21/2015 3:05:00 AM)

    Interesting how the Hindi wordsh have been laced together...The cultural nunaces picked up can only come with prolonged exposure, in the end the poet grudingly admits to his dependence and admiration for the poor Gunga Din. But sad it also reflects the attitude of those times to servititude and the poor of India. (Report) Reply

    2 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Francis Lynch (5/4/2015 11:43:00 AM)

    Never liked Kipling. He's a bigot and racist and it shows in all his work. (Report) Reply

    Al Bainbridge (7/1/2016 6:33:00 PM)

    You are a fool Lynch. However I pity you. This is simply a wonderful poem, one of many written by a genious!

    Floyd Farless (5/2/2016 3:15:00 PM)

    Perhaps you need to reread the last few lines. I will bet you were never in service and for sure never in country

  • (5/4/2015 7:18:00 AM)

    Kipling presents here a page from history - seen through his own very unique prism.... A time when it was not only commonplace to allow conscription or indentured servitude, or not only the blatant arrogance of the victor over them with no concern of humanity or God's love, but also to include severe beatings when the slightest little whim is not satisfied quickly enough.... From the depth of so many things that are so very wrong comes this very endearing admiration. Certainly Kipling's forte... (Report) Reply

  • (5/4/2015 6:35:00 AM)

    Will read it soon. (Report) Reply

  • Rajnish Manga (3/16/2015 4:32:00 AM)

    Gunga Din, you have absolutely no idea as to how you Kipling, the great poet, has immortalised you. Your tribesmen have gone into oblivion, but you will continue to live on. (Report) Reply

  • (11/28/2014 8:24:00 AM)

    This is an intensely marvelous poem.... I'm not yet decided if favorite of my all. But it goes into my pile - where I'm sure it'll last a while! Kipling is undoubtedly gifted by God. And I don't find it difficult to understand at all. He's talking about English soldiers fighting in provincial India - of all the black-faced crew refers to the interred Indian soldiers. Kipling himself was born an English subject in India. (Report) Reply

    John Richter (5/4/2015 7:21:00 AM)

    I thought that I had read this poem recently.... Why would any poem be chosen twice for poem of the day within a 6 month period?

  • Len Webster (6/3/2011 8:13:00 AM)

    A much-maligned poem - invariably by those who have either never read it or have failed to understand it! (Report) Reply

  • (4/21/2008 4:26:00 PM)

    still my favorite poem (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: water, green, brother, work, fear, fire, running

Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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