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Abdul Abulbul Amir
Posted by: Bob McMahan (
Date: November 01, 2000 11:20AM


I have been trying for months to identify a poem my 88 year old father loves to recite -- Abdul Abulbul Amir -- which recounts an encounter between the subject and a Russian solder named Ivan Skevinsky Skevar.

My father remembers much of the poem but has forgotten a great deal as well. The poem begins "The sons of the Profit are valiant and bold and quite unaccustomed to fear, but the bravest of all, or so I am told, is Abdul Abulbul Amir. I thought this poem was prehaps by Robert Service, but I can't find it in his collected works.

Would anyone be willing to point me in the right direction?


Bob McMahan

RE: Abdul Abulbul Amir
Posted by: Smokey (
Date: November 01, 2000 10:19PM

It was put to song in the 1920's by Frank Crumit and in a 1950's record (remember those) the notes say that the words are from some 1870's doggerel. This would predate Robert Service. Sorry I can'at be of more help. I remember as a child in the 30's playing this on an old wind up 78 rpm Victrola

RE: Abdul Abulbul Amir
Posted by: Chesil (
Date: November 01, 2000 10:59PM

Written by Percy French in 1877:

Abdul Abulbul Amir

The sons of the Prophet are brave men and bold
And quite unaccustomed to fear,
But the bravest by far in the ranks of the shah,
Was Abdul Abulbul Amir.

If you wanted a man to encourage the van,
Or harass the foe from the rear,
Storm forth or redoubt, you had only to shout
For Abdul Abulbul Amir.

Now the heroes were plenty and well known to fame
in the troops that were led by the Czar,
And the bravest of these was a man by the name
Of Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

One day this bold Russian, he shouldered his gun
And donned his most truculent sneer,
Downtown he did go where he tread on the toe
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir.

‘Young man,’ quote Abdul, ‘has life grown so dull
That you wish to end your career?
Vile infidel know, you have trod on the toe
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir.

So take your last look at the sunshine and brook
And send your regrets to the Czar,
For by this I imply, you are going to die,
Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.’

Then this bold Mamaluke drew his trusty skibouk,
Singing. ‘ Allah! Il Allah! Al-lah!’
And with murderous intent he ferociously went
For Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

They parried and thrust, they side-stepped and cussed,
Of blood they spilled a great part;
The philologist blokes, who seldom crack jokes,
Say that hash was first made on the spot.

They fought all that night neath the pale yellow moon;
The din, it was heard from afar.
And huge multitudes came, so great was the fame,
Of Abdul, and Ivan Skavar.

As Abdul’s long knife was extracting the life,
In fact he was shouting, ‘Huzzah’
He felt himself struck by that wily Calmuck,
Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

The Sultan drove by in his red-breasted fly,
Expecting the victor to cheer,
But he only drew nigh, to hear the last sigh,
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir.

There’s a tomb rises up where the Blue Danube rolls,
And graved there in characters clear,
Is, ‘ Stranger, when passing, oh pray for the soul
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir.’

A splash in the Black Sea one dark moonless night
Caused ripples to spread wide and far,
It was made by a sack fitting close to the back,
Of Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

A Muscovite maiden her lone vigil keeps,
Beneath the light of the cold northern star,
And the name that she murmurs in vain as she weeps,
is Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

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