When the Gentlemen Go By

SS324aSome people might concentrate on the pub in this  week’s theme, a Cornish village photo, but all I could see was a pack animal in a narrow street sending  Kipling and Daphne du Maurier swirling around in my mind.  Just look at that lane.

So let the sun set  in the photo, run inside and close the curtains and preferably  read out loud Rudyard Kipling’s The Smuggler’s Song. Let your imagination  paint  a picture in words as fine as any photograph.

 

IF you wake at midnight, and hear a horse’s feet,
Don’t go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street,
Them that ask no questions isn’t told a lie.
Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by.

Five and twenty ponies,  Trotting through the dark –
Brandy for the Parson, ‘Baccy for the Clerk.
Laces for a lady; letters for a spy,
Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by!

Running round the woodlump if you chance to find
Little barrels, roped and tarred, all full of brandy-wine,
Don’t you shout to come and look, nor use ’em for your play.
Put the brishwood back again – and they’ll be gone next day !

If you see the stable-door setting open wide;
If you see a tired horse lying down inside;
If your mother mends a coat cut about and tore;
If the lining’s wet and warm – don’t you ask no more !

If you meet King George’s men, dressed in blue and red,
You be careful what you say, and mindful what is said.
If they call you ” pretty maid,” and chuck you ‘neath the chin,
Don’t you tell where no one is, nor yet where no one’s been !

Knocks and footsteps round the house – whistles after dark –
You’ve no call for running out till the house-dogs bark.
Trusty’s here, and Pincher’s here, and see how dumb they lie
They don’t fret to follow when the Gentlemen go by !

If You do as you’ve been told, ‘likely there’s a chance,
You’ll be give a dainty doll, all the way from France,
With a cap of Valenciennes, and a velvet hood –
A present from the Gentlemen, along ‘o being good !

Five and twenty ponies,  Trotting through the dark –
Brandy for the Parson, ‘Baccy for the Clerk.
Them that asks no questions isn’t told a lie –
Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by !

 

12 thoughts on “When the Gentlemen Go By

  1. jamestaylor

    Gosh and golly! that poem takes me back when as a little boy at my father’s knee he would recite that without aid of the written letter. And he would pause so that I could chant “when the Gentlemen go by”. Thank you so much!

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  2. jofeath

    I’m sure smuggling was rife back in those times, and best not to know what was going on at night. A wonderful poem.

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  3. Barb Rogers

    Great to stretch my enjoyment of SS to poetry (here it’s national poetry month). I liked thinking of the little girl with the dolly. The gentlemen going by, not so much!

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