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Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

Half-Ballade of Waterval

(Non-commissioned Officers in Charge of Prisoners)


When by the labour of my 'ands I've 'elped to pack a transport tight With prisoners for foreign lands, I ain't transported with delight. I know it's only just an' right, But yet it somehow sickens me, For I 'ave learned at Waterval The meanin' of captivity. Be'ind the pegged barb-wire strands, Beneath the tall electric light, We used to walk in bare-'ead bands, Explainin' 'ow we lost our fight; An' that is what they'll do to-night Upon the steamer out at sea, If I 'ave learned at Waterval The meanin' of captivity. They'll never know the shame that brands-- Black shame no livin' down makes white-- The mockin' from the sentry-stands, The women's laugh, the gaoler's spite. We are too bloomin'-much polite, But that is 'ow I'd 'ave us be... Since I 'ave learned at Waterval The meanin' of captivity. They'll get those draggin' days all right, Spent as a foreigner commands, An' 'orrors of the locked-up night, With 'Ell's own thinkin' on their 'ands. I'd give the gold o' twenty Rands (If it was mine) to set 'em free, For I 'ave learned at Waterval The meanin' of captivity!
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