"Boots" is a poem by English author and poet Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936). It was first published in 1903, in his collection The Five Nations.[1]

"Boots" imagines the repetitive thoughts of a British Army infantryman marching by forced marches in South Africa during the Second Boer War (which had ended in 1902). It has been said that if the first four words in each line are read at the rate of two words to the second, that gives the time to which the British foot soldier was accustomed to march.[2]

The poem was set to music for low male voice and orchestra by "P. J. McCall", and recorded in 1929 by Australian bass-baritone Peter Dawson. McCall was Dawson, publishing under a pseudonym. That setting was soon recorded by other singers, but seems largely to have fallen out of fashion; perhaps because of World War 2.

American-born British poet T. S. Eliot included the poem in his 1941 anthology A Choice of Kipling's Verse.[3]

The 1915 spoken-word recording of Taylor Holmes reciting the poem has been used for its psychological effect in U.S. military SERE schools.[4]

Poem Edit

We're foot—slog—slog—slog—sloggin' over Africa—Foot—foot—foot—foot—sloggin' over Africa --

(Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin' up and down again!)

There's no discharge in the war!

Seven—six—eleven—five—nine-an'-twenty mile to-day—Four—eleven—seventeen—thirty-two the day before --

(Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin' up and down again!)

There's no discharge in the war!

Don't--don't--don't--don't--look at what's in front of you.

(Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin' up an' down again);

Men—men—men—men—men go mad with watchin' em,

An' there's no discharge in the war!

Count—count—count—count—the bullets in the bandoliers.

If—your—eyes—drop—they will get atop o' you!

(Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin' up and down again) --

There's no discharge in the war!

We—can—stick—out--'unger, thirst, an' weariness,

But—not—not—not—not the chronic sight of 'em—Boot—boots—boots—boots—movin' up an' down again,

An' there's no discharge in the war!

'Taint—so—bad—by—day because o' company,

But night—brings—long—strings—o' forty thousand million

Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin' up an' down again.

There's no discharge in the war!

I--'ave—marched—six—weeks in 'Ell an' certify

It—is—not—fire—devils, dark, or anything,

But boots—boots—boots—boots—movin' up an' down again,

An' there's no discharge in the war!

Try—try—try—try—to think o' something different—Oh—my—God—keep—me from goin' lunatic!

(Boots—boots—boots—boots—movin' up an' down again!)

There's no discharge in the war!

Recordings Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ Hamer, Mary. ""Boots" (Infantry Column of the Earlier War)". The Kipling Society. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  2. ^ Durand, Ralph (1914). A Handbook to the Poetry of Rudyard Kipling. Doubleday, Page & Co. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  3. ^ Eliot, T. S. (1963) [December 1941]. A Choice of Kipling's Verse Made by T. S. Eliot. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-07007-8.
  4. ^ Macias, Amanda. "This Freaky Recording Of A Rudyard Kipling Poem Is Used To Train Elite Soldiers For Captivity". Business Insider. Retrieved 20 June 2022.
  5. ^ Holmes, Taylor. "Boots". Library of Congress.
  6. ^ "78 RPM Record". 45worlds.com. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  7. ^ "Leonard Warren". The Gramophone. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  8. ^ "COLUMBIA (Microphone label, USA) 36000 to 36500 Numerical Listing". 78discography.com. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  9. ^ Owen Brannigan, Ernest Lush With Gilbert Vinter And His Orchestra – The Road To Mandalay (Kipling In Song 1866-1966) at Discogs
  10. ^ Benjamin Luxon And David Willison - Break The News To Mother: Victorian & Edwardian Ballads at Discogs
  11. ^ Leslie Fish - Ruduyard Kipling - The Undertaker's Horse at Discogs
  12. ^ "Jocko Podcast 38".

External links Edit