This is one of the poems Kipling wrote for his father Lockwood’s Beast and Man in India (1891).
Where the oxen pant elephants will not go near gunfire, so a team of oxen wait to take over to drag the guns nearer to the front.
Cf. “Her Majesty’s Servants” The Jungle Book p. 260. A pair of gun-bullocks speak:
“ Only one way,” said the two together. ”This is that way. To put all twenty yoke of us to the big gun as soon as Two Tails trumpets.” (‘Two Tails’ is camp slang for the elephant.)
“What does Two Tails trumpet for?” said the young mule.
“To show that he is not going any nearer to the smoke on the other side. Two Tails is a great coward. Then we tug the big gun all together.”
Careen lean over, tilt
©Philip Holberton 2020 All rights reserved