Ballad of Ivan Petrofsky Skevarr
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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This tune is more familiarly known as Abdul Abulbul Amir. Abdul Abulbul Amir is written "Abdullah Boul Boul Ameer" in this version. Since Abdul there have been many different versions of the famous fight - some of which get pretty gory.

The song was written in 1877 by Percy French at Trinity College for a college concert. His original title was Abdulla Bulbul Ameer. He sold it to a publisher for five pounds. It was published without credit to him and he never received royalties for its later success. Many sources still list the author as anonymous. According to the Book of Navy Songs "This song is representative of the non-nautical and non-naval songs that frequently becomes a favorite of the wardrooms in the fleet. An English correspondent writes that originally it was a ballad of the Russo-Turkish Wars."

Given the date and author the Crimean War (1853-1856) is more likely the setting than the earlier Russo-Turkish Wars.

For other Percy French tunes at this site enter Percy French in the search engine or go to The Contemplator's Very Short Biography of Percy French.

The sons of the Prophet are valiant and bold
and wholly impervious to fear,
But the bravest of all was a man by the name,
Of Abdulah Boul Boul Ameer.

If you wanted a man to encourage the van,
Or harass the foe from the rear,
Or to storm a redoubt, you had only to shout
for Abdulah Boul Boul Ameer.

This son of the desert in batle aroused
Could spit twenty men on his spear,
A terrible creature, sober or soused,
Was Abdulah Boul Boul Ameer

There are brave men in plenty, and well known to fame,
in the army that's run by the Czar,
But the bravest of all was a man by the name
of Ivan Petrofsky Skevar.

He cold imitate Irving, tell fortunes by cards,
And play on the Spanish guitar,
In fact quite the cream of the Muscovite team
was Ivan Petrofsky Skevar.

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 Petrofsky Skevar.

One day that bold Russian, he shouldered his gun
and with his most cynical sneer,
Was going down town, when he came right upon
Brave Abdulah Boul Boul Ameer.

"Young man," said Boul Boul, "is existence so dull
That you hanker to end your career?
For infidel know, you have trod on the toe
Of Abdulah Boul Boul Ameer.

So take your last look upon sky, sea, brook
And send your regrets to the Czar
For by this I imply, you are going to die,
O you Ivan Petrofsky Skevar."

"But your murderous threats are to me but a joke,
For my pleasure and pastime is war
And I'll tread on your toes whene'er I may choose,"
Quoth Ivan Petrofsky Skevar.

Then that brave Mameluke drew his trusty chabook,
Singing, "Allah! Il Allah! Akbar!"
And with murder intent he ferociously went
at Ivan Petrofsky Skevar.

But the Russian gave back not a step at th' attack,
For Ivan had never known fear,
And with quickly aimed gun, put a stop to the fun,
Of Abdulah Boul Boul Ameer

Yet the whistling chabook did like lighning descend,
And caught Ivan right over the ear.
But the bayonet of Ivan pressed right through the heart
Of Abdulah Boul Boul Ameer.

The Russian commander spurred thither in haste,
To seek fo his favorite Hussar.
Lo, pierced through the snoot from the fatal chabook,
Lay Ivan Petrofsky Skevar.

The sultan rode up the distrubance to quell,
Or to give to the victor a cheer,
But he arrived just in time to take hasty farewell
Of Abdulah Boul Boul Ameer

Then Gotchikoff, Skabeloff, Menchikoff too,
Drove up in the Emperor's car,
But only in time to bid rapid adieu
To Ivan Petrofsky Skevar.

There lieth a stone where the Danube doth roll,
And on it in characters clear,
Is, "Stranger, remember to pray for the soul
Of Abdulah Boul Boul Ameer."

A Muscovite maiden her sad vigil keeps,
In her home by the cold northern star,
And the name that she murmurs so oft in her sleep,
is Ivan Petrofsky Skevar.
Related Links
From Book of Navy Songs
Lyrics From American Ballads and Folk Songs
See Bibliography for full information.