> Peter Bellamy > Songs > Private Ortheris’ Song

Private Ortheris’ Song

[words Rudyard Kipling, music Peter Bellamy]

Private Ortheris’ Song is a poem from Rudyard Kipling's book The Courting of Dinah Shadd. Peter Bellamy recorded it in 1990 for his privately issued cassette Soldiers Three. This recording was also included in 2012 on the CD reissue of Peter Bellamy Sings the Barrack-Room Ballads of Rudyard Kipling.

Lyrics

My Girl she give me the go onest,
When I was a London lad;
An’ I went on the drink for a fortnight,
An’ then I went to the bad.
The Queen she give me a shillin’
To fight for ’er over the seas;
But Guv’ment built me a fever-trap,
An’ Injia give me disease.

Ho! don’t you ’eed what a girl says,
An’ don’t you go for the beer;
But I was an ass when I was at grass,
An’ that is why I’m ’ere.

I fired a shot at a Afghan,
The beggar ’e fired again,
An’ I lay on my bed with a ’ole in my ’ed,
An’ missed the next campaign!
I up with my gun at a Burman
Who carried a bloomin’ dah,
But the cartridge stuck and the bay’nit bruk,
An’ all I got was the scar.

Ho! don’t you aim at a Afghan,
When you stand on the skyline clear;
An’ don’t you go for a Burman
If none o’ your friends is near.

I served my time for a Corp’ral,
An’ wetted my stripes with pop,
For I went on the bend with a intimate friend,
An’ finished the night in the “shop.”
I served my time for a Sergeant;
The Colonel ’e sez “No!
The most you’ll see is a full C.B.”
An’ … very next night ’twas so!

Ho! don’t you go for a Corp’ral
Unless your ’ed is clear;
But I was an ass when I was at grass,
An’ that is why I’m ’ere.

I’ve tasted the luck o’ the Army
In barrack an’ camp an’ clink,
An’ I lost my tip through the bloomin’ trip
Along o’ the women an’ drink.
I’m down at the heel o’ my service,
An’ when I am laid on the shelf,
My very worst friend from beginning to end
By the blood of a mouse was myself!

Ho! don’t you ’eed what a girl says,
An’ don’t you go for the beer;
But I was an ass when I was at grass,
An’ that is why I’m ’ere!