The Battle of Shipka Pass

The Battle of Shipka Pass

Another blogger and myself wandered the halls of my memory


her capturing the beauty of Polynesia

This led me to wander through the halls of Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland and the writings of Percy French; particularly “Ivan Skavinsky Skavar and Abdul the Bulbul Emir.”

Through these meanderings I somehow ended up in the title of this post:

“Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78”

However, when you finish reading and viewing, you should visit the two links above in order to see how I ended up writing this post. And now for more about the war of 1877 – 1888; with a lot of help from Wikipedia.

Russia declared war on the Ottomans on 24 April 1877 and its troops entered Romania through the newly built Eiffel Bridge near Ungheni, on the Prut river.

Eiffel Bridge on the Prut, Ungheni

Eiffel Bridge on the Prut, Ungheni

Dragoons of Nizhny Novgorod pursuing the Turks

Dragoons of Nizhny Novgorod pursuing the Turks

After the attack. Dressing station near Plevna - Vasily Vereshchagin

After the attack. Dressing station near Plevna by Vasily Vereshchagin

Road of the War Prisoners - Vasily Vereshchagin

Road of the War Prisoners by  Vasily Vereshchagin


However; now, we must return to Percy French at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.

(William) Percy French (1 May 1854 – 24 January 1920) was one of Ireland’s foremost songwriters and entertainers in his day. In more recent times, he has become recognized for his watercolor paintings as well.

French was born at Cloonyquin House, near Tulsk, County Roscommon, the son of an Anglo-Irish landlord. He was educated at Foyle College, Derry, and wrote his first successful song while studying at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) in 1877 for a “smoking concert”. The song Abdul Abulbul Amir was sold for £5 to an unscrupulous publisher. The song later became hugely popular and was falsely claimed by other authors.

French’s original poem

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 trod on the toe
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir.
Young man, quoth 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.