Abdul The Bulbul Emir

The sons of the Prophet are hardy and bold,
And quite unaccustomed to fear,
But of all, the most reckless of life or of limb
Was Abdul the Bulbul Emir.

When they wanted a man to encourage the van
Or to harass a foe from the rear,
Storm fort or redoubt, they had only to shout
For Abdul the Bulbul Emir.

This son of the desert in battle aroused
Could spit twenty men on his spear.
A terrible creature when sober or soused
Was Abdul the Bulbul Emir.

The heroes were plenty and well known to fame
That fought in the ranks of the Czar.
But the greatest of these was a man by the name
Of Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

He could imitate Irving, play euchre or pool
And strum on the Spanish guitar.
In fact quite the cream of the Muscovite team
Was Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

The ladies all loved him, his rivals were few
He could drink them all under the bar.
Come gallant or tank, there was no one to rank
With Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

One day this bold Russian had shouldered his gun
And donned his most truculent sneer.
He went into town, and straightway ran down
Abdul the Bulbul Emir.

“Young man”, quoth the Bulbul, “Is existence so dull
That you’re eager to end your career?
Foul infidel, know, you have trod on the toe
Of Abdul the Bulbul Emir !”

“So take your last look at the sunshine and brook
And send your regrets to the Czar.
By this I imply you are going to die,
Mr. Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.”

Said Ivan, “My friend, your remarks in the end
Will avail you but little, I fear.
For you ne’er will survive to repeat them alive,
Mr. Abdul the Bulbul Emir.”

Then this bold Mamalouk drew his trusty skibouk
With a cry of “Allahu Akbar.”
With murderous intent he ferociously went
For Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

They parried and thrust, they sidestepped and cussed
Of blood they both spilled a great lot.
The philologist blokes, who seldom crack jokes,
Say that hash was first made on that spot.

They fought all that night ‘neath the pale yellow moon,
The din it was heard from afar.
And multitudes came, so great was the fame,
Of Abdul and Ivan Skavar.

As Abdul’s long knife was extracting the life,
In fact he had shouted, “Huzzah!”
He felt himself struck by that wily Calmuck,
Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

The Sultan drove by in his red-crested fly,
Expecting the victor to cheer.
But he only drew nigh just to hear the last sigh
Of Abdul the Bulbul Emir.

Czar Petrovich too, in his spectacles blue
Drove up in his new crested car.
He arrived just in time to exchange a last line
With Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

There’s a grave by the wave where the Blue Danube rolls,
And ‘graved there in characters clear,
Is “Stranger, when passing, oh pray for the soul
Of Abdul the Bulbul Emir.”

A splash in the Black Sea one dark moonless night,
Caused ripples to spread near and far.
It was made by a sack fitting close to the back
Of Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

A Muscovite maiden her lone vigil keeps,
‘Neath the light of the pale polar star.
And the name that she murmurs so oft as she weeps
Is Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

Abdul Abulbul Amir” is a poem written in 1877 (during the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878)) by Percy French and later set to music. It tells the story of two valiant heroes — a Russian, Ivan Skavinsky Skavar, and one of the Shah’s mamelukes, Abdul Abulbul Amir — who because of their pride end up in a fight and kill each other. The poem inspired an MGM cartoon in the 1940s and a series of beer ads by Whitbread in the 1980s.

Frank Crumit, who was famous for his renditions of it, wrote three sequels: “The Return of Abdul Abulbul Amir”, “The Grandson Of Abdul Abulbul Amir”, and “Minnie Skavinsky Skavar”.


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