It is difcult to overestimate the impact on popular perceptions of Burma – indeed, of the ‘Far East’ more generally – of Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘Mandalay’. It rst appeared in the literary weekly The Scots Observer on 21 June 1890.1 It was subsequently included in the collection Barrack-Room Ballads and Other Verses, which was published in London in 1892.2 Given its importance, the poem deserves citing in full:

By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ eastward to the sea, There’s a Burma girl a-settin’, and I know she thinks o’ me; For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say: ‘Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!’ Come you back to Mandalay, Where the old Flotilla lay: Can’t you ’ear their paddles chunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay? On the road to Mandalay, Where the yin’-shes play, An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ’crost the Bay!