HomeRudyard KiplingHalf-Ballad of Waterval

Half-Ballad of Waterval. Rudyard Kipling

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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