An introduction to the poem

This poem was written in 1899 by Kipling for an appeal by the Daily Mail to raise funds for the troops. The appeal raised about £300,000, approximately £25million in today's money.

An Absent Minded Beggar, a poem by Kipling

WHEN you've shouted "Rule Britannia," when you've sung "God save the Queen,"

 When you've finished killing Kruger with your mouth,

 Will you kindly drop a shilling in my little tambourine

 For a gentleman in khaki ordered South?

 He's an absent-minded beggar, and his weaknesses are great-

 But we and Paul must take him as we find him—

 He is out on active service, wiping something off a slate

 And he's left a lot of little things behind him!

 Duke's son-cook's son - son of a hundred kings

 (Fifty thousand horse and foot going to Table Bay!)

 Each of 'em doing his country's work

 (and who's to look after their things?)

 Pass the hat for your credit's sake,

 and pay-pay-pay !

There are girls he married secret, asking no permission to,

 For he knew he wouldn't get it if he did.

 There is gas and coals and vittles, and the house-rent falling due,

 And its more than rather likely there's a kid.

 There are girls he's walked with casual. They'll be sorry now he's gone,

 For an absent-minded beggar they will find him,

 But it ain't the time for sermons with the winter coming on

 We must help the girl that Tommy's left behind him!

 Cook's son—Duke's son-son of a belted Earl

 Son of a Lambeth publican—it's all the same to-day!

 Each of 'em doing his country's work

 (and who's to look after the girl?)

 Pass the hat for your credit's sake,

 and pay—pay—pay !

There are families by thousands, far too proud to beg or speak,

 And they'll put their sticks and bedding up the spout,

 And they'll live on half o' nothing, paid 'em punctual once a week,

 'Cause the man that earns the wage is ordered out.

 He's an absent-minded beggar, but he heard his country call,

 And his reg'ment didn't need to send to find him!

 He chucked his job and joined it-so the job before us all

 Is to help the home that Tommy's left behind him!
Duke's job-cook's job—gardener, baronet, groom.

 Mews or palace or paper-shop, there's someone gone away!

 Each of 'em doing his country's work

 (and who's to look after the room?)

 Pass the hat for your credit's sake,

 and pay—pay—pay!

Let us manage so as, later, we can look him in the face,

 And tell him-what he'd very much prefer

 That, while he saved the Empire, his employer saved his place,

 And his mates (that's you and me) looked out for her.

 He's an absent-minded beggar and he may forget it all,

 But we do not want his kiddies to remind him

 That we sent 'em to the workhouse while their daddy hammered Paul,

 So we'll help the homes that Tommy left behind him !

 Cook's home—Duke's home—home of a millionaire,

 (Fifty thousand horse and foot going to Table Bay!)

 Each of 'em doing his country's work

 (and what have you got to spare?)

 Pass the hat for your credit's sake,

 and pay—pay—pay !

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Postal Address

Please send your cheque to the following address.

The Secretary (Lt Col KR Bryan)
Hants and Isle of Wight Military Aid Fund
Serle's House,
Southgate St
Hants, SO23 9EG

Letters of Thanks

Dear Lt Col Bryan,

On behalf of my clients, Mr. & Mrs. X, I would like to offer my sincere gratitude for the benevolence you have shown them. The £410 will make a world of difference to the quality of life for Mr. X, in what are, in effect, his last weeks and months.

When Mr. X does pass on, I will, as per your letter, contact you again.

Kindest Regards,

SSAFA caseworker

Hello Keith,

Just to let you know that your cheque (£500) arrived safely and lodged with the SSAFA account. A SSAFA cheque for the full amount of £968 has been made payable to the funeral directors and will be delivered to them on Friday. The widow has been informed and is extremely grateful for the collective kindness shown. My heartfelt gratitude for your benevolence to this family.

SSAFA Caseworker Derby City Division

Dear Keith,

Many thanks for the very generous donation which will enable our client to considerably reduce his rent arrears. I am in the process of talking to the Royal British Legion to see if they will be able to contribute.

SSAFA Caseworker Wiltshire

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