The Ballad of Tommy Atkins was first published as “Tommy” in Kipling’s timeless Barrack-Room Ballads and Other Verses in the 1890s. "Tommy Atkins", or simply Tommy, was a generic name applied to British soldiers from as early as the 18th century, but came into popular parlance during the First World War when troops were simply referred to as “Tommies”. The ballad exposes the bitterness felt by the British soldier to the public’s treatment of their forces in times of peace, and how that alters in wartime.
Public Domain (P)2014 Phillip J Mather
Yes I definitely would, it sums up the treatment of the common British soldier in WW1.
I loved the way Phillip adapted his quintessentially English upper class voice to one of the common British soldier, bring this classic poem to life.
I think this part of the poem sums the tragedy of all wars, the senseless loss of thousands of lives - cannon fodder... "While it's "Tommy this", an' "Tommy that", an' "Tommy, fall be'ind", But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind, There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind, O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind."
This classic poem, written by Rudyard Kipling before WW1 typifies the attitude towards the common British soldier and it is lovely to hear it narrated so well.
In this remarkable poem by Kipling, the viewpoint is that of a regular soldier as he decries the duplicitous manner in which he is treated by his countrymen. In times of peace they dislike him, wish him to go away, don't offer him good seats in the theater or places at their eateries.
You see, soldiers such as he are known as uncouth brutes. They don't have high manners or delicate demeanor. They live the rough life in the army and this translates to their behavior in the civilian world.
So, the soldier (Tommy Atkins) is treated poorly by his fellow men. This changes in a jiffy when war comes along. Then, when they depend on his courage and willingness to sacrifice his life, they hold parades for him, and show respect.
Thus, the entire poem juxtaposes instances of bad treatment (in time of peace) and good treatment (when the drums of war roll).
I imagine that soldiers of all epochs share the views expressed by Tommy Atkins. This poem made me smile because it is true and eternal.
Good reading by Phillip J. Mather. He sounded like a grizzled career soldier ought to sound. I loved how he read it in the original form with the imperfect English. Well done as usual.
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