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has anyone?
Posted by: Russ (
Date: January 19, 2004 12:42PM

Has anyone ever anywhere ever heard of the poem "The First Banjo?" I think it starts. "For forty days and forty nights...-"

Re: has anyone?
Posted by: -Les- (
Date: January 19, 2004 02:13PM

This one perhaps:

Cholera Camp
By Rudyard Kipling

We've got the cholerer in camp -- it's worse than forty fights;
We're dyin' in the wilderness the same as Isrulites;
It's before us, an' be'ind us, an' we cannot get away,
An' the doctor's just reported we've ten more to-day!

Oh, strike your camp an' go, the Bugle's callin',
The Rains are fallin' --
The dead are bushed an' stoned to keep 'em safe below;
The Band's a-doin' all she knows to cheer us;
The Chaplain's gone and prayed to Gawd to 'ear us --
To 'ear us --
O Lord, for it's a-killin' of us so!

Since August, when it started, it's been stickin' to our tail,
Though they've 'ad us out by marches an' they've 'ad us back by rail;
But it runs as fast as troop-trains, and we cannot get away;
An' the sick-list to the Colonel makes ten more to-day.

There ain't no fun in women nor there ain't no bite to drink;
It's much too wet for shootin', we can only march and think;
An' at evenin', down the nullahs, we can 'ear the jackals say,
"Get up, you rotten beggars, you've ten more to-day!"

'Twould make a monkey cough to see our way o' doin' things --
Lieutenants takin' companies an' captains takin' wings,
An' Lances actin' Sergeants -- eight file to obey --
For we've lots o' quick promotion on ten deaths a day!

Our Colonel's white an' twitterly -- 'e gets no sleep nor food,
But mucks about in 'orspital where nothing does no good.
'E sends us 'eaps o' comforts, all bought from 'is pay --
But there aren't much comfort 'andy on ten deaths a day.

Our Chaplain's got a banjo, an' a skinny mule 'e rides,
An' the stuff 'e says an' sings us, Lord, it makes us split our sides!
With 'is black coat-tails a-bobbin' to Ta-ra-ra Boom-der-ay!
'E's the proper kind o' padre for ten deaths a day.

An' Father Victor 'elps 'im with our Roman Catholicks --
He knows an 'eap of Irish songs an' rummy conjurin' tricks;
An' the two they works together when it comes to play or pray;
So we keep the ball a-rollin' on ten deaths a day.

We've got the cholerer in camp -- we've got it 'ot an' sweet;
It ain't no Christmas dinner, but it's 'elped an' we must eat.
We've gone beyond the funkin', 'cause we've found it doesn't pay,
An' we're rockin' round the Districk on ten deaths a day!

Then strike your camp an' go, the Rains are fallin',
The Bugle's callin'!
The dead are bushed an' stoned to keep 'em safe below!
An' them that do not like it they can lump it,
An' them that cannot stand it they can jump it;
We've got to die somewhere -- some way -- some'ow --
We might as well begin to do it now!
Then, Number One, let down the tent-pole slow,
Knock out the pegs an' 'old the corners -- so!
Fold in the flies, furl up the ropes, an' stow!
Oh, strike -- oh, strike your camp an' go!
(Gawd 'elp us!)

Re: has anyone?
Posted by: Linda (
Date: January 19, 2004 04:05PM

Or maybe Kipling's Song of the Banjo.

You couldn't pack a Broadwood half a mile--
You musn't leave a fiddle in the damp--
You couldn't raft an organ up the Nile,
And play it in an Equatorial swamp.
I travel with the cooking-pots and pails--
I'm sandwiched 'tween the coffee and the pork--
And when the dusty column checks and tails,
You should hear me spur the rearguard to a walk!

With my "Pilly-willy-winky-winky-popp!"
[Oh, it's any tune that comes into my head!]
So I keep 'em moving forward till they drop;
So I play 'em up to water and to bed.

In the silence of the camp before the fight,
When it's good to make your will and say your prayer,
You can hear my strumpty-tumpty overnight,
Explaining ten to one was always fair.
I'm the Prophet of the Utterly Absurd,
Of the Patently Impossible and Vain--
And when the Thing that Couldn't has occurred,
Give me time to change my leg and go again.

With my "Tumpa-tumpa-tumpa-tumpa-tump!"
In the desert where the dung-fed camp-smoke curled.
There was never voice before us till I led our lonely chorus,
I--the war-drum of the White Man round the world!

By the bitter road the Younger Son must tread,
Ere he win to hearth and saddle of his own,--
'Mid the riot of the shearers at the shed,
In the silence of the herder's hut alone--
In the twilight, on a bucket upside down,
Hear me babble what the weakest won't confess--
I am Memory and Torment--I am Town!
I am all that ever went with evening dress!

With my "Tunka-tunka-tunka-tunka-tunk!"
[So the lights--the London Lights--grown near and plain!]
So I rowel 'em afresh towards the Devil and the Flesh,
Till I bring my broken rankers home again.

In desire of many marvels over sea,
Where the new-raised tropic city sweats and roars,
I have sailed with Young Ulysses from the quay
Till the anchor rumbled down on stranger shores.
He is blooded to the open and the sky,
He is taken in a snare that shall not fail,
He shall hear me singing strongly, till he die,
Like the shouting of a backstay in a gale.

With my "Hya! Heeya! Heeya! Hullah! Haul!"
[Oh, the green that thunders aft along the deck!]
Are you sick o' towns and men? You must sign and sail again,
For it's "Johnny Bowlegs, pack your kit and trek!"

Through the gorge that gives the stars at noon-day-clear--
Up the pass that packs the scud beneath our wheel--
Round the bluff that sinks her thousand fathom sheer--
Down the valley with our guttering brakes asqueal:
Where the trestle groans and quivers in the snow,
Where the many-shedded levels loop and twine,
Hear me lead my reckless children from below
Till we sing the Song of Roland to the pine!

With my "Tinka-tinka-tinka-tinka-tink!"
[Oh, the axe has cleared the mountain, croup and crest!]
And we ride the iron stallions down to drink,
Through the canyons to the waters of the West!

And the tunes that mean so much to you alone--
Common tunes that make you choke and blow your nose--
Vulgar tunes that bring the laugh that brings the groan--
I can rip your very heartstrings out with those;
With the feasting, and the folly, and the fun--
And the lying, and the lusting, and the drink,
And the merry play that drops you, when you're done,
To the thoughts that burn like irons if you think.

With my "Plunka-lunka-lunka-lunka-lunk!"
Here's a trifle on account of pleasure past,
Ere the wit that made you win gives you eyes to see your sin
And--the heavier repentance at the last!

Let the organ moan her sorrow to the roof--
I have told the naked stars the Grief of Man!
Let the trumpet snare the foeman to the proof--
I have known Defeat, and mocked it as we ran!
My bray ye may not alter nor mistake
When I stand to jeer the fatted Soul of Things,
But the Song of Lost Endeavour that I make,
Is it hidden in the twanging of the strings?

With my "Ta-ra-rara-rara-ra-ra-rrrp!"
[Is it naught to you that hear and pass me by?]
But the word--the word is mine, when the order moves the line
And the lean, locked ranks go roaring down to die!

The grandam of my grandam was the Lyre--
[Oh, the blue below the little fisher-huts!]
That the Stealer stooping beachward filled with fire,
Till she bore my iron head and ringing guts!
By the wisdom of the centuries I speak--
To the tune of yestermorn I set the truth--
I, the joy of life unquestioned--I, the Greek--
I, the everlasting Wonder-song of Youth!

With my "Tinka-tinka-tinka-tinka-tink!"
[What d'ye lack, my noble masters! What d'ye lack?]
So I draw the world together link by link;
Yea, from Delos up to Limerick and back!

Re: has anyone?
Posted by: Russ (
Date: January 19, 2004 10:09PM

THx Linda and Les but that is not the one.
"for fourty days and fourty night the rain she kept a drapin"
it was in a book! ???

Re: has anyone?
Posted by: Pam Adams (
Date: January 20, 2004 01:47PM



Irwin Russell. 1853–1879

12. De Fust Banjo

GO 'way, fiddle! folks is tired o' hearin' you a-squawkin'.
Keep silence fur you' betters! don't you heah de banjo talkin'?
About de 'possum's tail she's gwine to lecter—ladies, listen!
About de ha'r whut isn't dar, an' why de ha'r is missin':

"Dar's gwine to be a' oberflow," said Noah, lookin' solemn— 5
Fur Noah tuk de "Herald," an' he read de ribber column—
An' so he sot his hands to wuk a-clarin' timber-patches,
An' 'lowed he's gwine to build a boat to beat de steamah Natchez.

Ol' Noah kep' a-nailin' an' a-chippin' an' a-sawin';
An' all de wicked neighbors kep' a-laughin' an' a-pshawin'; 10
But Noah didn't min' 'em, knowin' whut was gwine to happen:
An' forty days an' forty nights de rain it kep' a-drappin'.

Now, Noah had done cotched a lot ob ebry sort o' beas'es—
Ob all de shows a-trabbelin', it beat 'em all to pieces!
He had a Morgan colt an' sebral head o' Jarsey cattle— 15
An' druv 'em 'board de Ark as soon's he heered de thunder rattle.

Den sech anoder fall ob rain! It come so awful hebby,
De ribber riz immejitly, an' busted troo de lebbee;
De people all wuz drownded out—'cep Noah an' de critters,
An' men he'd hired to wuk de boat—an' one to mix de bitters. 20

De Ark she kep' a-sailin' an' a-sailin' an' a-sailin';
De lion got his dander up, an' like to bruk de palin';
De sarpints hissed; de painters yelled; tel', whut wid all de fussin',
You c'u'dn't hardly heah de mate a-bossin' 'roun' an' cussin'.

Now Ham, de only nigger whut was runnin' on de packet, 25
Got lonesome in de barber-shop, an' c'u'dn't stan' de racket;
An' so, fur to amuse he-se'f, he steamed some wood an' bent it,
An' soon he had a banjo made—de fust dat wuz invented.

He wet de ledder, stretched it on; made bridge an' screws an' aprin;
An' fitted in a proper neck—'twuz berry long an' taprin'; 30
He tuk some tin, an' twisted him a thimble fur to ring it:
An' den de mighty question riz: how wuz he gwine to string it?

De 'possum had as fine a tail as dis dat I's a-singin';
De har's so long an' thick an' strong,—des fit fur banjo-stringin';
Dat nigger shaved 'em off as short as washday-dinner graces: 35
An' sorted ob 'em by de size—f'om little E's to basses.

He strung her, tuned her, struck a jig,—'twuz "Nebber min' de wedder,"—
She soun' like forty-lebben bands a-playin' all togedder:
Some went to pattin'; some to dancin': Noah called de figgers;
An' Ham he sot an' knocked de tune, de happiest ob niggers! 40

Now, sence dat time—it's mighty strange—dere's not de slightes' showin'
Ob any ha'r at all upon de 'possum's tail a-growin';
An' curi's, too, dat nigger's ways: his people nebber los' 'em—
Fur whar you finds de nigger—dar's de banjo an' de 'possum!

Re: has anyone?
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: January 20, 2004 06:30PM

Oh, my, Irwin - that's very politically incorrect! Not to mention virtually unintelligible.

Re: has anyone?
Posted by: Linda (
Date: January 20, 2004 06:36PM

It just proves the necessity of reading a poem out loud.

Re: has anyone?
Posted by: Pam Adams (
Date: January 20, 2004 09:42PM

Yes, he definitely needed 'Use of Dialect 101.'


Re: has anyone?
Posted by: Russ (
Date: January 21, 2004 09:40PM

Thank You Pam. How in the world? I even went to the library of congress. No luck.

Re: has anyone?
Posted by: Russ (
Date: January 21, 2004 09:44PM

Thank You Pam. How in the world? I even went to the library of congress. No luck.
When I was young my Dad also quoted
The walrus and the Carpenter from alice in wonderland
We lived in Alaska with the Indians, our friends and neighbors, so we didn't have to be politically correct!

Re: has anyone?
Posted by: Pam Adams (134.71.192.---)
Date: January 21, 2004 09:52PM

Once you gave me the 'rain she kept a drapin' line, I did a search on Google- exact phrase. [] />

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