Rudyard Kipling

Here you will find the Long Poem The Ballad Of Boh Da Thone of poet Rudyard Kipling

The Ballad Of Boh Da Thone

This is the ballad of Boh Da Thone,
 Erst a Pretender to Theebaw's throne,
 Who harried the district of Alalone:
 How he met with his fate and the V.P.P.*
 At the hand of Harendra Mukerji,
 Senior Gomashta, G.B.T.
* Value Payable Parcels Post: in which the Government collects the money
for the sender.
Boh Da Thone was a warrior bold:
His sword and his Snider were bossed with gold,
And the Peacock Banner his henchmen bore
Was stiff with bullion, but stiffer with gore.
He shot at the strong and he slashed at the weak
From the Salween scrub to the Chindwin teak:
He crucified noble, he sacrificed mean,
He filled old ladies with kerosene:
While over the water the papers cried,
"The patriot fights for his countryside!"
But little they cared for the Native Press,
The worn white soldiers in Khaki dress,
Who tramped through the jungle and camped in the byre,
Who died in the swamp and were tombed in the mire,
Who gave up their lives, at the Queen's Command,
For the Pride of their Race and the Peace of the Land.
Now, first of the foemen of Boh Da Thone
Was Captain O'Neil of the "Black Tyrone",
And his was a Company, seventy strong,
Who hustled that dissolute Chief along.
There were lads from Galway and Louth and Meath
Who went to their death with a joke in their teeth,
And worshipped with fluency, fervour, and zeal
The mud on the boot-heels of "Crook" O'Neil.
But ever a blight on their labours lay,
And ever their quarry would vanish away,
Till the sun-dried boys of the Black Tyrone
Took a brotherly interest in Boh Da Thone:
And, sooth, if pursuit in possession ends,
The Boh and his trackers were best of friends.
The word of a scout -- a march by night --
A rush through the mist -- a scattering fight --
A volley from cover -- a corpse in the clearing --
The glimpse of a loin-cloth and heavy jade earring --
The flare of a village -- the tally of slain --
And. . .the Boh was abroad "on the raid" again!
They cursed their luck, as the Irish will,
They gave him credit for cunning and skill,
They buried their dead, they bolted their beef,
And started anew on the track of the thief
Till, in place of the "Kalends of Greece", men said,
"When Crook and his darlings come back with the head."
They had hunted the Boh from the hills to the plain --
He doubled and broke for the hills again:
They had crippled his power for rapine and raid,
They had routed him out of his pet stockade,
And at last, they came, when the Day Star tired,
To a camp deserted -- a village fired.
A black cross blistered the Morning-gold,
And the body upon it was stark and cold.
The wind of the dawn went merrily past,
The high grass bowed her plumes to the blast.
And out of the grass, on a sudden, broke
A spirtle of fire, a whorl of smoke --
And Captain O'Neil of the Black Tyrone
Was blessed with a slug in the ulnar-bone --
The gift of his enemy Boh Da Thone.
(Now a slug that is hammered from telegraph-wire
Is a thorn in the flesh and a rankling fire.)
 . . . . .
The shot-wound festered -- as shot-wounds may
In a steaming barrack at Mandalay.
The left arm throbbed, and the Captain swore,
"I'd like to be after the Boh once more!"
The fever held him -- the Captain said,
"I'd give a hundred to look at his head!"
The Hospital punkahs creaked and whirred,
But Babu Harendra (Gomashta) heard.
He thought of the cane-brake, green and dank,
That girdled his home by the Dacca tank.
He thought of his wife and his High School son,
He thought -- but abandoned the thought -- of a gun.
His sleep was broken by visions dread
Of a shining Boh with a silver head.
He kept his counsel and went his way,
And swindled the cartmen of half their pay.
 . . . . .
And the months went on, as the worst must do,
And the Boh returned to the raid anew.
But the Captain had quitted the long-drawn strife,
And in far Simoorie had taken a wife.
And she was a damsel of delicate mould,
With hair like the sunshine and heart of gold,
And little she knew the arms that embraced
Had cloven a man from the brow to the waist:
And little she knew that the loving lips
Had ordered a quivering life's eclipse,
And the eye that lit at her lightest breath
Had glared unawed in the Gates of Death.
(For these be matters a man would hide,
As a general rule, from an innocent Bride.)
And little the Captain thought of the past,
And, of all men, Babu Harendra last.
 . . . . .
But slow, in the sludge of the Kathun road,
The Government Bullock Train toted its load.