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English Poetry. William Schwenck Gilbert. The Bab Ballads. Thomas Winterbottom Hance. Уильям Швенк Гильберт.

William Schwenck Gilbert (Уильям Швенк Гильберт)

The Bab Ballads. Thomas Winterbottom Hance

In all the towns and cities fair
   On Merry England’s broad expanse,
No swordsman ever could compare
   With Thomas Winterbottom Hance.

The dauntless lad could fairly hew
   A silken handkerchief in twain,
Divide a leg of mutton too—
   And this without unwholesome strain.

On whole half-sheep, with cunning trick,
   His sabre sometimes he’d employ—
No bar of lead, however thick,
   Had terrors for the stalwart boy.

At Dover daily he’d prepare
   To hew and slash, behind, before—
Which aggravated Monsieur Pierre,
   Who watched him from the Calais shore.

It caused good Pierre to swear and dance,
   The sight annoyed and vexed him so;
He was the bravest man in France—
   He said so, and he ought to know.

“Regardez donc, ce cochon gros—
   Ce polisson!  Oh, sacré bleu!
Son sabre, son plomb, et ses gigots
   Comme cela m’ennuye, enfin, mon Dieu!

“Il sait que les foulards de soie
   Give no retaliating whack—
Les gigots morts n’ont pas de quoi—
   Le plomb don’t ever hit you back.”

But every day the headstrong lad
   Cut lead and mutton more and more;
And every day poor Pierre, half mad,
   Shrieked loud defiance from his shore.

Hance had a mother, poor and old,
   A simple, harmless village dame,
Who crowed and clapped as people told
   Of Winterbottom’s rising fame.

She said, “I’ll be upon the spot
   To see my Tommy’s sabre-play;”
And so she left her leafy cot,
   And walked to Dover in a day.

Pierre had a doating mother, who
   Had heard of his defiant rage;
His Ma was nearly ninety-two,
   And rather dressy for her age.

At Hance’s doings every morn,
   With sheer delight his mother cried;
And Monsieur Pierre’s contemptuous scorn
   Filled his mamma with proper pride.

But Hance’s powers began to fail—
   His constitution was not strong—
And Pierre, who once was stout and hale,
   Grew thin from shouting all day long.

Their mothers saw them pale and wan,
   Maternal anguish tore each breast,
And so they met to find a plan
   To set their offsprings’ minds at rest.

Said Mrs. Hance, “Of course I shrinks
   From bloodshed, ma’am, as you’re aware,
But still they’d better meet, I thinks.”
   “Assurément!” said Madame Pierre.

A sunny spot in sunny France
   Was hit upon for this affair;
The ground was picked by Mrs. Hance,
   The stakes were pitched by Madame Pierre.

Said Mrs. H., “Your work you see—
   Go in, my noble boy, and win.”
“En garde, mon fils!” said Madame P.
   “Allons!”  “Go on!”  “En garde!”  “Begin!”

(The mothers were of decent size,
   Though not particularly tall;
But in the sketch that meets your eyes
   I’ve been obliged to draw them small.)

Loud sneered the doughty man of France,
   “Ho! ho!  Ho! ho!  Ha! ha!  Ha! ha!”
“The French for ‘Pish’” said Thomas Hance.
   Said Pierre, “L’Anglais, Monsieur, pour ‘Bah.’”

Said Mrs. H., “Come, one! two! three!—
   We’re sittin’ here to see all fair.”
“C’est magnifique!” said Madame P.,
   “Mais, parbleu! ce n’est pas la guerre!”

“Je scorn un foe si lache que vous,”
   Said Pierre, the doughty son of France.
“I fight not coward foe like you!”
   Said our undaunted Tommy Hance.

“The French for ‘Pooh!’” our Tommy cried.
   “L’Anglais pour ‘Va!’” the Frenchman crowed.
And so, with undiminished pride,
   Each went on his respective road.

William Schwenck Gilbert’s other poems:

  1. The Bab Ballads. The Phantom Curate
  2. The Bab Ballads. The Sensation Captain
  3. The Bab Ballads. Thomson Green and Harriet Hale
  4. The Bab Ballads. To the Terrestrial Globe
  5. The Bab Ballads. Gentle Alice Brown

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