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Humanities Libertexts

9.2: Fuzzy-Wuzzy

Rudyard Kipling

Soudan Expeditionary force. Early campaign

We’ve fought with many men acrost the seas,
An’ some of ’em was brave an’ some was not.
The Paythan[1] an’ the Zulu an’ Burmese;
But the Fuzzy[2] was the finest o’ the lot.
We never got a ha’porth’s[3] change of ‘im:
‘E squatted in the scrub an’ ‘ocked our ‘orses,
‘E cut our sentries up at Suakim[4],
An’ ‘e played the cat an’ banjo with our forces.
So ‘ere’s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your ‘ome in the Soudan;
You’re a pore benighted ‘eathen but a first-class fightin’ man;
We gives you your certificate, an’ if you want it signed
We’ll come an’ ‘ave a romp with you whenever you’re inclined.

We took our chanst among the Kyber’ills[5],
The Boers[6] knocked us silly at a mile,
The Burman give us Irriwady chills[7],
An’ a Zulu impi[8] dished us up in style:
But all we ever got from such as they
Was pop[9] to what the Fuzzy made us swaller[10];
We ‘eld our bloomin’ own, the papers say,
But man for man the Fuzzy knocked us ‘oller.
Then ‘ere’s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, an’ the missis and the kid;
Our orders was to break you, an’ of course we went an’ did.
We sloshed you with Martinis[11], an’ it wasn’t ‘ardly fair;
But for all the odds agin’ you, Fuzzy-Wuz, you broke the square[12].

‘E ‘asn’t got no papers of ‘is own,
‘E ‘asn’t got no medals nor rewards,
So we must certify the skill ‘e’s shown
In usin’ of ‘is long two-‘anded swords:
When ‘e’s ‘oppin’ in an’ out among the bush
With ‘is coffin-‘eaded shield an’ shovel-spear,
An ‘appy day with Fuzzy on the rush
Will last an ‘ealthy Tommy[13] for a year.
So ‘ere’s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, an’ your friends which are no more,
If we ‘adn’t lost some messmates we would ‘elp you to deplore;
But give an’ take’s the gospel, an’ we’ll call the bargain fair,
For if you ‘ave lost more than us, you crumpled up the square!

‘E rushes at the smoke when we let drive,
An’, before we know, ‘e’s ‘ackin’ at our ‘ead;
‘E’s all ‘ot sand an’ ginger when alive,
An’ ‘e’s generally shammin’[14] when ‘e’s dead.
‘E’s a daisy[15], ‘e’s a ducky[16], ‘e’s a lamb[17]!
‘E’s a injia-rubber idiot on the spree[18],
‘E’s the on’y thing that doesn’t give a damn
For a Regiment o’ British Infantree!
So ‘ere’s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your ‘ome in the Soudan;
You’re a pore benighted ‘eathen, but a first-class fightin’ man;
An’ ‘ere’s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, with your ‘ayrick ‘ead of ‘air—
You big black boundin’ beggar—for you broke a British square!

—1892.

[The editor is indebted to Representative Poetry, ed. Ian Lancashire for many of the notes to this poem].

Contributors  


  1. Pathans, people on the northwest frontier of India. 
  2. Sudanese followers of the Mahdi, so called because of their frizzled hair (Durand, Ralph. A Handbook to the Poetry of Rudyard Kipling [London: 1914]). 
  3. A halfpenny’s worth. 
  4. A port in northeast Sudan on the Red Sea, it was the headquarters of British and Egyptian troops operating in the eastern Sudan against the dervishes in 1884 (Durand, 22). 
  5. Khyber Mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan. 
  6. Dutch-speaking settlers in South Africa who fought against the British in the Boer Wars. 
  7. In the Burmese campaign, the British forces came down with malaria near the Irrawady River. 
  8. A regiment of the Zulus, a Bantu ethnic group in South Africa. 
  9. Ginger beer. 
  10. Swallow. 
  11. A rifle in general use in the British Army from 1871-1888. 
  12. In 1884, near Tamai, the Sudanese army broke into the first British brigade square (a formation of soldiers) and “temporarily captured the naval guns” (Durand, 23). 
  13. Colloquial term for a British soldier. 
  14. Pretending. 
  15. Good fellow. 
  16. Nice chap. 
  17. Darling. 
  18. A drunken binge. 
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