The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #152012   Message #3554522
Posted By: Joe_F
30-Aug-13 - 04:19 PM
Thread Name: The Widow's Uniform (uploaded)
Subject: RE: The Widow's Uniform (uploaded)
Yes, indeed -- but Kipling does not conceal (and, I guess, does not altogether disapprove of) the poisonous effects of the soldier's imperial status. In contrast with the beefy-faced London housemaids, the Burma girl is not just neater & sweeter, but sexually available at lower cost and without commitments:

Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
Where there aren't no Ten Commandments an' a man can raise a thirst;...

(Maurice Samuel made bold to point out that the Ten Commandments were issued just east of Suez.) Kipling goes on & on about that in another wonderful song, "The Ladies", in which the soldier recounts his amours in the Raj & then ends with a rather squishy regret ("now I must pay for my fun" -- nothing about what *they* must pay), but returns to the real world with the line

So be warned by my lot (which I know you will not).

"Mandalay" was very well known in the U.S. well into the 20th century, to a tune (with an almost unsingable range) written by someone in Cincinnati!