For much of the eighteent and nineteenth centuries, the Russian Empire was in conflict with the Ottoman Empire, the two most famous outbreaks being the Crimean War and the Russo Turkish Wars of 1877. The areas of dispute were generally the regions surrounding the Black Sea and the Balkan Peninsula. These regions were inhabited by both Muslims and Christian Slavs and and the perpetual rivalry between them was the inspiration for this satiric poem by Percy French.

Abdul Abulbul Amir

The sons of the Prophet are brave men and bold

and quite unaccustomed to fear,

But the bravest by far in the ranks of the shah,

Was Abdul Abulbul Amir.

If you wanted a man to encourage the van,

Or harass the foe from the rear,

Storm fort or redoubt, you had only to shout

for Abdul Abulbul Amir.

Now the heroes were plenty and well known to fame

in the troops that were led by the Czar,

And the bravest of these was a man by the name

of Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

One day this bold Russian, he shouldered his gun

and donned his most truculent sneer,

Downtown he did go where he tred on the toe

of Abdul Abulbul Amir.

"Young man," quote Abdul,"has life grown so dull

That you wish to end your career?

Vile infidel know, you have trod on the toe

Of Abdul Abulbul Amir.

So take your last look at the sunshine and brook

And send your regrets to the Czar

For by this I imply, you are going to die,

Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar."

Then this bold Mameluke drew his trusty skibouk,

Singing, "Allah! Il Allah! Al-lah!"

And with murderous intent he ferociously went

for Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

They parried and thrust, they side-stepped and cussed,

Of blood they spilled a great part;

The philologist blokes, who seldom crack jokes,

Say that hash was first made on the spot.

They fought all that night neath the pale yellow moon;

The din, it was heard from afar,

And huge multitudes came, so great was the fame,

of Abdul and Ivan Skavar.

As Abdul's long knife was extracting the life,

In fact he was shouting, "Huzzah!"

He felt himself struck by that wily Calmuck,

Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

The Sultan drove by in his red-breasted fly,

Expecting the victor to cheer,

But he only drew nigh to hear the last sigh,

Of Abdul Abulbul Amir.

There's a tomb rises up where the Blue Danube rolls,

And graved there in characters clear,

Is, "Stranger, when passing, oh pray for the soul

Of Abdul Abulbul Amir."

A splash in the Black Sea one dark moonless night

Caused ripples to spread wide 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 cold northern star,

And the name that she murmurs in vain as she weeps,

is Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

by Percy French