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Follow Me ’Ome

[ Roud - ; Mudcat 48434 ; words Rudyard Kipling, music Peter Bellamy; notes on Follow Me ’Ome at the Kipling Society]

Follow Me ’Ome is a poem from Rudyard Kipling collected in his second volume of Poetry, The Seven Seas (1896). Peter Bellamy sang it on his fourth album of songs set to Kipling’s poems, Keep on Kipling, accompanying himself on concertina. Chris Birch played violin and sang chorus, and Howard Parker beat the drum. This recording was also included on his anthology Wake the Vaulted Echoes.

Peter Bellamy also recorded Follow Me ’Ome in 1990 for his privately issued cassette Soldiers Three, released to coincide with the New Victoria Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme’s production of Soldiers Three, scripted by Tony Perrin.

Cockersdale sang Follow Me ’Ome, “one of our favourite Peter Bellamy settings of one of Rudyard Kipling’s poems”, in 1994 on their Fellside CD Been Around for Years.

Dave Webber sang Follow Me ’Ome, on the 1995 album of Barrack Room Ballads and other soldier’s poems of Rudyard Kipling as set to traditional tunes by Peter Bellamy, The Widow’s Uniform. He noted:

Surely the finest of Kipling’s many celebrations of comradeship, the song features one of his loveliest and most lingering refrains. The Biblical phrase in the coda is from the story of David and Jonathan (“Thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women”: 2 Samuel, 1:26).

John Roberts and Tony Barrand sang Follow Me ’Ome in 1998 on their CD of Kipling songs, Naulakha Redux. They noted:

The bond of men away from their women, friends made in the face of imminent death, has probably never been summed up as well as in this song: “…passing the love o’ women”.

Dave Webber and Anni Fentiman sang Follow Me ’Ome and Roll Down to Rio in 1998 on their CD Bonnet & Shawl.


Follow Me ’Ome

There was no one like ’im, ’Orse or Foot,
Nor any o’ the Guns I knew;
An’ because it was so, why, o’ course ’e went an’ died,
Which is just what the best men do.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
So it’s knock out your pipes an’ follow me!
An’ it’s finish up your swipes an’ follow me!
Oh, ’ark to the big drum callin’,
Follow me—follow me ’ome!

’Is mare she neighs the ’ole day long,
She paws the ’ole night through,
An’ she won’t take ’er feed ’cause o’ waitin’ for ’is step,
Which is just what a beast would do.

’Is girl she goes with a bombardier
Before ’er month is through;
An’ the banns are up in church, for she’s got the beggar hooked,
Which is just what a girl would do.

We fought ’bout a dog—last week it were—
No more than a round or two;
But I strook ’im cruel ’ard, an’ I wish I ’adn’t now,
Which is just what a man can’t do.

’E was all that I ’ad in the way of a friend,
An’ I’ve ’ad to find one new;
But I’d give my pay an’ stripe for to get the beggar back,
Which it’s just too late to do.

So it’s knock out your pipes an’ follow me!
An’ it’s finish off your swipes an’ follow me!
Oh, ’ark to the fifes a-crawlin’!
Follow me—follow me ’ome!

Take ’im away! ’E’s gone where the best men go.
Take ’im away! An’ the gun-wheels turnin’ slow.
Take ’im away! There’s more from the place ’e come.
Take ’im away, with the limber an’ the drum.

For it’s “Three rounds blank” an’ follow me,
An’ it’s “Thirteen rank” an’ follow me;
Oh, passin’ the love o’ women,
Follow me—follow me ’ome!