≡ Menu

The Grave of the Hundred Head by Rudyard Kipling

There’s a widow in sleepy Chester
Who weeps for her only son;
There’s a grave on the Pabeng River,
A grave that the Burmans shun;
And there’s Subadar Prag Tewarri
Who tells how the work was done.

A Snider squibbed in the jungle,
Somebody laughed and fled,
And the men of the First Shikaris
Picked up their Subaltern dead,
With a big blue mark in his forehead
And the back blown out of his head.

Subadar Prag Tewarri,
Jemadar Hira Lal,
Took command of the party,
Twenty rifles in all,
Marched them down to the river
As the day was beginning to fall.

They buried the boy by the river,
A blanket over his face —
They wept for their dead Lieutenant,
The men of an alien race —
They made a samadh in his honor,
A mark for his resting-place.

For they swore by the Holy Water,
They swore by the salt they ate,
That the soul of Lieutenant Eshmitt Sahib
Should go to his God in state,
With fifty file of Burmans
To open him Heaven’s gate.

The men of the First Shikaris
Marched till the break of day,
Till they came to the rebel village,
The village of Pabengmay —
A jingal covered the clearing,
Calthrops hampered the way.

Subadar Prag Tewarri,
Bidding them load with ball,
Halted a dozen rifles
Under the village wall;
Sent out a flanking-party
With Jemadar Hira Lal.

The men of the First Shikaris
Shouted and smote and slew,
Turning the grinning jingal
On to the howling crew.
The Jemadar’s flanking-party
Butchered the folk who flew.

Long was the morn of slaughter,
Long was the list of slain,
Five score heads were taken,
Five score heads and twain;
And the men of the First Shickaris
Went back to their grave again,

Each man bearing a basket
Red as his palms that day,
Red as the blazing village —
The village of Pabengmay,
And the “drip-drip-drip” from the baskets
Reddened the grass by the way.

They made a pile of their trophies
High as a tall man’s chin,
Head upon head distorted,
Set in a sightless grin,
Anger and pain and terror
Stamped on the smoke-scorched skin.

Subadar Prag Tewarri
Put the head of the Boh
On the top of the mound of triumph,
The head of his son below —
With the sword and the peacock-banner
That the world might behold and know.

Thus the samadh was perfect,
Thus was the lesson plain
Of the wrath of the First Shikaris —
The price of a white man slain;
And the men of the First Shikaris
Went back into camp again.

Then a silence came to the river,
A hush fell over the shore,
And Bohs that were brave departed,
And Sniders squibbed no more;
For the Burmans said
That a white man’s head
Must be paid for with heads five-score.

There’s a widow in sleepy Chester
Who weeps for her only son;
There’s a grave on the Pabeng River,
A grave that the Burmans shun;
And there’s Subadar Prag Tewarri
Who tells how the work was done.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Terry June 3, 2020, 5:54 PM

    A very excellent piece for our current times indeed.

  • TwoDogs June 3, 2020, 6:29 PM

    I do love me some Kipling. Way too un-PC for the sorry times we find ourselves in, sadly.

  • Lance de Boyle June 3, 2020, 11:16 PM

    ranger knife verses
    last breath and last words
    don’t think you can escape
    don’t think that i will wait

    don’t think that you’ll be leaving
    don’t think that i’ll be stopping
    slitty bloodred signature
    holy poison give it to ya
    [Mickey Kania]

    Embedded With Worms
    Beg for your mercy as you dig through the waste.
    You are not forgiven, so don’t try to escape.
    This nightmare you created in your burning mind.
    Will keep you a wretch as your world collides.

    You tainted the children while you wore black.
    Raping them of their beliefs and any hope they had.
    Under a scarlet moonlight while making their lives gone.
    Inside of me a beast was risen and knew what shall be done.

    What shall be done?
    First the carving the skin off your followers.
    Then ripping out the lungs so the agony goes deeper.
    Next, clawing out their necks.
    They’re left as a feast for maggots.

    Weep upon your grave.
    Your time is done.
    Look into the barrel that will spray your blood.
    No one will hear you screams.
    No one will hear you cry.
    All there will be is your brain matter under the night sky.

    You now rest with the night sky.
    Others like you will be purged.
    Rot under the night sky.
    You’re embedded with worms.
    [Justin T.]

  • Jack June 4, 2020, 7:19 AM

    I typically don’t get into poetry but I feel like I could win the Lotto today….. GVL’s poetic contribution of “fire” for the Fascist and these two poems today. Lance, your’s was excellent. I fkcuing hate communists and nazis.

  • I.C.Nielsen June 4, 2020, 9:35 AM
  • Sam L. June 4, 2020, 11:39 AM

    We all need a GOOD kipling in these parlous times.

  • Callmelennie June 6, 2020, 6:06 AM

    What a great story. I could see this being turned into a blockbuster summer movie. And no doubt, all of our finest AOC (actors of color) would be backstabbing. each other for the right to play the Sudabar (thats a NCO rank, not a first name BTW)