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The Akond of Swat



Who, or why, or which, or what, Is the Akond of SWAT?
Is he tall or short, or dark or fair?

The Akond of Swat?
Does he sit on a stool or a sofa or a chair,

Is he wise or foolish, young or old?
or HOT,
The Akond of Swat?
Does he drink his soup and his coffe cold,

Does he sing or whistle, jabber or talk,
or TROT,
The Akond of Swat?
And when riding abroad does he gallop or walk

Does he wear a turban, a fez, or a hat?
or COT,
The Akond of Swat?
Does he sleep on a mattress, a bed, or a mat,

When he writes a copy in round-hand size,
with a DOT,
The Akond of Swat?
Does he cross his T's and finish his I's

Can he write a letter concisely clear
or BLOT,
The Akond of Swat?
Without a speckk or a smudge or smear

Do his people like him extremely well?
or PLOT,
At the Akond of Swat?
Or do they, whenever they can, rebel,

If he catches them then, either old or young,
or shot,
The Akond of Swat?
Does he have them chopped in pieces or hung,

Do his people prig in the lanes or park?
O the Akond of Swat!
Or even at times, when days are dark,

Does he study the wants of his own dominion?
a JOT,
The Akond of Swat?
Or doesn't he care for public opinion

To amuse his mind do his people show him
or WHAT,
For the Akond of Swat?
Pictures, or any one's last new poem,

At night if he suddenly screams and wakes,
or a LOT,
For the Akond of Swat?
Do they bring him only a few small cakes,

Does he live on turnips, tea, or tripe?
or a DOT,
The Akond of Swat?
Does he like his shawl to be marked with a stripe,

Does he like to lie on his back in a boat
The Akond of Swat?
Like the lady who lived in that isle remote,

Is he quiet, or always making a fuss?
or a SCOT,
The Akond of Swat?
Is his stewart a Swiss or a Swede or Russ,

Does like to sit by the calm blue wave?
or a GROTT,
The Akond of Swat?
Or to sleep and snore in a dark green cave,

Does he drink small beer from a silver jug?
or a POT.
The Akond of Swat?
Or a bowl? or a glass? or a cup? or a mug?

Does he beat his wife with a gold-topped pipe,
or ROT,
The Akond of Swat?
When she let the gooseberries grow too ripe,

Does he wear a white tie when he dines with friends,
or a KNOT,
The Akond of Swat?
And tie it neat in a bow with ends,

Does he like new cream, and hate mince-pies?
or NOT,
The Akond of Swat?
When he looks at the sun does he wink his eyes,

Does he teach his subjects to roast and bake?
in a YACHT,
The Akond of Swat?
Does he sail about on an inland lake

Some one, or nobody, knows I wot
Is the Akond of Swat!
Who or which or why or what

For the existence of this potentate see Indian newspapers, passim. The proper way to read the verses is to make an immense emphasis on the monosyllabic rhymes, which indeed ought to be shouted out by a chorus.

[The picture, which really seems to have little in common with the poem, is taken from the Royal Academy of Arts exhibition catalogue, Edward Lear 1812-1888, edited by Vivien Noakes, 1988, p. 185; Lear enclosed it in a letter to lady Waldegrave of 25 october 1873.]

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