Who, or why, or which, or what, Is the Akond of SWAT?

Is he tall or short, or dark or fair?
Does he sit on a stool or a sofa or a chair,
        or SQUAT,
    The Akond of Swat?
A delightful nonsense poem by Edward Lear, sounding particularly like Dr Seuss in this example. Scroll down for the full text. Make sure you read it out loud. Lear appended a note to the rhyme: "For the existence of this potentate see Indian newspapers, passim. The proper way to read the verses is to make an immense emphasis on the monosyllabic rhymes, which indeed ought to be shouted out by a chorus."

Having no nineteenth-century Indian newspapers to hand, we have to find something on the Web about the Akond of Swat, but which isn't the Lear. He was a real person, the ruler of a native state in what is now the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. The Akhond, Akond, or Akund "was a Sufi ascetic with a highly charismatic and warlike personality who united the Swatis and made his capital at Saidu Sharif."(1)

Swat is a beautiful valley in what was once the partly Hellenised kingdom of Gandhara. "Here, the snow peaks of the Karakorums widen and thaw into a landslide of cultivation terraces. Below, the Swat River -- in autumn the colour of lapis-lazuli -- meanders lazily around a green plain of orchards and wheat fields."(2)

The state was ruled sporadically by Muslim religious leaders with the title of akhond; secular rulers between 1849 and 1863, and again 1914 to 1918, were known as amir-e shariyat, changed to badshah until 1926, then wali.(3) The last Wali of Swat was removed by the Pakistani government in 1969 and the tribal state was abolished.

His legacy today is probably this very curious one: the American baseball player Babe Ruth was nicknamed the Sultan of Swat, and that monicker was familiar enough that the group Dire Straits played on it again to give Sultans of Swing.

Who, or why, or which, or what, Is the Akond of SWAT?

Is he tall or short, or dark or fair?
Does he sit on a stool or a sofa or a chair,
        or SQUAT,
    The Akond of Swat?

Is he wise or foolish, young or old?
Does he drink his soup and his coffee cold,
        or HOT,
    The Akond of Swat?

Does he sing or whistle, jabber or talk,
And when riding abroad does he gallop or walk
        or TROT,
    The Akond of Swat?

Does he wear a turban, a fez, or a hat?
Does he sleep on a mattress, a bed, or a mat,
        or COT,
    The Akond of Swat?

When he writes a copy in round-hand size,
Does he cross his T's and finish his I's
        with a DOT,
    The Akond of Swat?

Can he write a letter concisely clear
Without a speck or a smudge or smear
        or BLOT,
    The Akond of Swat?

Do his people like him extremely well?
Or do they, whenever they can, rebel,
        or PLOT,
    At the Akond of Swat?

If he catches them then, either old or young,
Does he have them chopped in pieces or hung,
        or SHOT,
    The Akond of Swat?

Do his people prig in the lanes or park?
Or even at times, when days are dark,
        GAROTTE,
    The Akond of Swat?

Does he study the wants of his own dominion?
Or doesn't he care for public opinion
        a JOT,
    The Akond of Swat?

To amuse his mind do his people show him
Pictures, or any one's last new poem,
        or WHAT,
    For the Akond of Swat?

At night if he suddenly screams and wakes,
Do they bring him only a few small cakes,
        or a LOT,
    For the Akond of Swat?

Does he live on turnips, tea, or tripe?
Does he like his shawl to be marked with a stripe,
        or a DOT,
    The Akond of Swat?

Does he like to lie on his back in a boat
Like the lady who lived in that isle remote,
        SHALLOTT,
    The Akond of Swat?

Is he quiet, or always making a fuss?
Is his steward a Swiss or a Swede or Russ,
        or a SCOT,
    The Akond of Swat?

Does like to sit by the calm blue wave?
Or to sleep and snore in a dark green cave,
        or a GROTT,
    The Akond of Swat?

Does he drink small beer from a silver jug?
Or a bowl? or a glass? or a cup? or a mug?
        or a POT,
    The Akond of Swat?

Does he beat his wife with a gold-topped pipe,
When she let the gooseberries grow too ripe,
        or ROT,
    The Akond of Swat?

Does he wear a white tie when he dines with friends,
And tie it neat in a bow with ends,
        or a KNOT.
    The Akond of Swat?

Does he like new cream, and hate mince-pies?
When he looks at the sun does he wink his eyes,
        or NOT,
    The Akond of Swat?

Does he teach his subjects to roast and bake?
Does he sail about on an inland lake
        in a YACHT,
    The Akond of Swat?

Some one, or nobody, knows I wot
Who or which or why or what
    Is the Akond of Swat?

The first two of the following are references, but are also interesting travelogues or histories to read on their own account:
(1) www.khyber.org/pashtoplaces/malakand.shtml
(2) www.travelintelligence.com/wsd/articles/art_46.html
(3) http://rulers.org/pakstat.html

I am told the "word jazz" performer Ken Nordine has done a version of this.

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