Friday, August 14, 2009

"Now a monument stands frozen solid and clear..."

"Now a monument stands frozen solid and clear beneath the light of the pale polar star, so remember the name and undying fame of Abdul and Ivan Skavar"
"Abdul Abulbul Amir" is a folk song written in 1877 by Percy French and later set to music. It tells the story of two valiant heroes — a Russian and one of the Persian Shah's mamelukes — who because of their pride end up in a fight and kill each other.

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".

The song was adapted in 1941 into an MGM cartoon, Abdul the Bulbul-Ameer, produced by Fred Quimby, directed by Hugh Harman and featuring Groucho Marx, Lou Costello and Harry Ritz as news reporters. In this version Abdul is depicted as a bully who picks on Ivan's dwarf friend, provoking Ivan into treading on the Turk's toe. He has many traits of 1930s and 1940s cartoon villains like Bluto including thick lips, a beard and a big belly. There is a brief swordfight which soon changes into a brawl that ends with Ivan and Abdul literally "out cold". The more positive portrayal of the Russians could be due to the alliance between Britain and the USSR following Hitler's invasion of Russia.
The original lyrics by William Percy French, 1877:
1. The sons of the prophet
Were hardy and bold,
And quite unaccustomed to fear,
But the bravest by far,
In the ranks of the Shah,
Was Abdulla Bulbul Ameer.

This son of the desert,
In battle aroused,
Could spit twenty men on his spear.
A terrible creature,
Both sober and soused
|: Was Abdulla Bulbul Ameer. :|

2. If you wanted a man
To encourage the van,
Or to harass the foe from the rear,
Or to storm a redoubt,
You had only to shout
For Abdulla Bulbul Ameer.

There are heroes aplenty
And men known to fame
In the troops that were led by the Czar;
But the bravest of these
Was a man by the name
|: Of Ivan Skavinsky Skivar. :|

3. He could imitate Irving,
Play euchre and pool
And perform on the Spanish Guitar.
In fact, quite the cream
Of the Muscovite team
Was Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

The ladies all loved him,
His rivals were few;
He could drink them all under the bar.
As gallant or tank,
There was no one to rank
|: With Ivan Skavinsky Skivar. :|

4. One day this bold Russian
Had shouldered his gun
And donned his most truculent sneer
Downtown he did go,
Where he trod on the toe
Of Abdulla Bulbul Ameer

"Young man" quoth Bulbul,
"Has life grown so dull,
That you're anxious to end your career?
Vile infidel! Know,
You have trod on the toe
|: Of Abdulla Bulbul Ameer." :|

5. "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 Skivar."

Quoth 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. Abdulla Bulbul Ameer!" :|

6. Then this bold mameluke
Drew his trusty chibouque
With a cry of "Allah Akbar!"
And with murderous intent,
He ferociously went
For Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

Then they parried and thrust
And they side-stepped and cussed
Till their blood would have filled a great pot.
The philologist blokes,
Who seldom crack jokes,
|: Say hash was first made on that spot. :|

7. They fought all that night,
'neath the pale yellow moon;
The din, it was heard from afar;
And great multitudes came,
So great was the fame
Of Abdul and Ivan Skivar.

As Abdul's long knife
Was extracting the life -
In fact, he was shouting "Huzzah!"
He felt himself struck
By that wily Kalmuck,
|: Count Ivan Skavinsky Skivar. :|

8. 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 Abdulla Bulbul Ameer.

Czar Petrovich, too,
In his spectacles blue
Rode up in his new crested car.
He arrived just in time
To exchange a last line
|: With Ivan Skavinsky Skivar. :|

9. A loud-sounding splash
From the Danube was heard
Resounding o'er meadows afar;
It came from the sack
Fitting close to the back
Of Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

There's a tomb rises up
Where the blue Danube flows;
Engraved there in characters clear;
"Ah stranger, when passing,
Please pray for the soul
|: Of Abdulla Bulbul Ameer." :|

10. A Muscovite maiden
Her lone vigil keeps,
Neath the light of the pale polar star;
And the name that she murmurs
As oft as she weeps
Is Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

The sons of the prophet
Were hardy and bold,
And quite unaccustomed to fear,
But the bravest by far,
In the ranks of the Shah,
|: Was Abdulla Bulbul Ameer. :|

Via: MKF

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