Danny Deever

Original Text: 
Rudyard Kipling's Verse: Definitive Edition (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1940): 397-98.
3"What makes you look so white, so white?" said Files-on-Parade.
4"I'm dreadin' what I've got to watch," the Colour-Sergeant said.
8    An' they're hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'.
9"What makes the rear-rank breathe so 'ard?" said Files-on-Parade.
10"It's bitter cold, it's bitter cold," the Colour-Sergeant said.
11"What makes that front-rank man fall down?" said Files-on-Parade.
12"A touch o' sun, a touch o' sun," the Colour-Sergeant said.
13    They are hangin' Danny Deever, they are marchin' of 'im round,
14    They 'ave 'alted Danny Deever by 'is coffin on the ground;
16    O they're hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'!
17"'Is cot was right-'and cot to mine,"' said Files-on-Parade.
18"'E's sleepin' out an' far to-night," the Colour-Sergeant said.
19"I've drunk 'is beer a score o' times," said Files-on-Parade.
20"'E's drinkin' bitter beer alone," the Colour-Sergeant said.
21    They are hangin' Danny Deever, you must mark 'im to 'is place,
22    For 'e shot a comrade sleepin'--you must look 'im in the face;
23    Nine 'undred of 'is county an' the Regiment's disgrace,
24    While they're hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'.
25"What's that so black agin the sun?" said Files-on-Parade.
26"It's Danny fightin' 'ard for life," the Colour-Sergeant said.
27"What's that that whimpers over'ead?" said Files-on-Parade.
28"It's Danny's soul that's passin' now," the Colour-Sergeant said.
30    The Regiment's in column, an' they're marchin' us away;
31    Ho! the young recruits are shakin', an' they'll want their beer to-day,
32    After hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'!


1] Files-on-Parade: common soldiers, one marching before another (Ralph Durand, A Handbook to the Poetry of Rudyard Kipling [London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1914]: 21). Back to Line
2] Colour-Sergeant: senior infantry serjeant (Durand 21). Back to Line
5] Dead March: slow, solemn music played at military funerals. Back to Line
6] 'ollow square: ."The soldiers lining the three sides of a square and facing inwards." (Durand 21). The cockney speaker regularly elides initial h and final consonants such as f and g. Back to Line
7] buttons ... stripes: insignia of rank, stripped away as a sign of dishonour (Durand 21). Back to Line
15] a sneakin' shootin' hound: a mean dog of a man that did nothing but shoot for sport. Back to Line
29] quickstep: rapid march when soldiers leave a ceremony (Durand 21). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
Scots Observer
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: