This Be the Pukka Verse
Ah the Raj! Our mother-incarnate
Victoria Imperatrix rules the sceptred
sphere overseeing legions of maidens’
“fishing fleets” that break the waves
to net the love of a heaven Etonian!
Fetes on lawns with mansion whacking
banks or dances by moonlight
at the Viceroy – the Viceroy’s ball!
The burra pegs of brandy pawnee
and pink gin in barrack rooms
that require the doolally scram on Jaldi
punkawallaahh! for six meal days
with tiffin with peacocks and humps
and tongue for the breeches for the topi-
of-khaki and swagger stick bobbery
shikar. Tally ho! for the boars in a hush
and by Amritsar what a 12-bore howdah
double on howdahs for bang!bang!
bagging the flamiest tiger! Panthers,
leopards, blackbucks and swanny
bustards, and Kipling or Tatler at Tollygunge.
Lock, stock and bobbing palanquins
for Hill Station gothic verandahs
where dawn Himalayas through Poobong
or Ooty mist, and the basso profundo
of evensong, housey-housey and hammocks
under the Milky Way . . . Then waking
to twirl those vintage sabre-curved
mustachios for zenanas behind bazaars
where the girls give a breathless nautch
whilst ayahs are snookered by sahib’s
sport where the off-shoot half-breeds
are vagabonds and mad dogs in a jolly
good lingam-land, where the sun
never sets, overflowing with silk and spice
and all the gems of the earth! Er
darling, it’s not quiiite the koh-i-noor . . .
Would you? On a train that’s tickety-boo
hooting on time through a tunnel. A
diamond! Darling, I feel so whole.