Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag

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"Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag, and Smile, Smile, Smile" is the full name of a World War I marching song, published in 1915 in London. It was written by George Henry Powell under the pseudonym of "George Asaf", and set to music by his brother Felix Powell.[1] A play presented by the National Theatre recounts how these music hall stars rescued the song from their rejects pile and re-scored it to win a wartime competition for a marching song.[2] It became very popular, boosting British morale despite the horrors of that war. It was one of a large number of music hall songs aimed at maintaining morale, recruiting for the forces, or defending Britain's war aims.

Contents

Lyrics

The song is best remembered for its chorus:[3]


Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile,
While you've a Lucifer to light your fag,
Smile, boys, that's the style.
What's the use of worrying?
It never was worth while, so
Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile.


Full lyrics are here.

Interpretation

A lucifer was a popular make of match, and "fag" remains British slang for a cigarette. A kit-bag (also known as a duffle bag) is a large cylindrical canvas or heavy-duty cotton bag, with a flat base and punched holes round the other end for tying with a draw string. It is generally carried balanced on one shoulder, with a hand held up to steady it. It was the traditional means of carrying personal equipment (bedding, clothing etc.) in both the army and navy in both world wars and for some time afterwards.

In other languages

The Dutch version goes:

Pak al je zorgen in je plunjezak en fluit, fluit, fluit!
Aan alle moeilijkheden heb je lak, fluit man en 't is uit!
Waarom zou je treuren, het helpt je niet vooruit,
Dus: pak al je zorgen in je plunjezak en fluit, fluit, fluit.

The Spanish version

Guarda tus penas en el fondo del morral y rie ya!
Ponte contento y así venceras la dificultad!
Siempre estarás alegre, nunca triste estaras, jamás!
Guarda tus penas en el fondo del morral y rie ya.!

Cultural references

References