Gunga Din

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"Gunga Din" (1892) is one of Rudyard Kipling's most famous poems, perhaps best known for its often-quoted last stanza, "Tho' I've belted you and flayed you, By the livin' Gawd that made you, You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" The poem is a rhyming narrative from the point of view of a British soldier, about a native water-bearer (a "bhisti") who saves the soldier's life but dies himself. Like several others among Kipling's poems, it celebrates the virtues of a non-European while revealing the racism of a colonial infantryman who views such people as being of a "lower order". But the last line in particular suggests a deep-down unease of conscience about these racial feelings, both in the depicted soldier and in Kipling himself. The poem was published as one of the set of martial poems called the Barrack-Room Ballads. "Din" is frequently pronounced to rhyme with "bin" although the rhymes within the poem make it clear that it should be pronounced to rhyme with "green".



The poem inspired a 1939 adventure film of the same name from RKO Radio Pictures starring Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Joan Fontaine, and Sam Jaffe in the title role.

The movie was remade in 1961 as Sergeants 3, starring the Rat Pack. The locale was moved from British-colonial India to the old West. The Gunga Din character was played in this film by Sammy Davis, Jr.. Many elements of the 1939 film were also incorporated into Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.[1]

A much shorter animated version of the poem and film was made as an episode of The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo, with the ultra-myopic character in the title role. He was voiced, as always, by Jim Backus.

See also



  • George Robinson: Gunga Din (article on the 1939 Hollywood film). Soldiers of the Queen (journal of the Victorian Military Society). September 1994.

External links

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