William Schwenck Gilbert ( )

The Bab Ballads. The Reverend Micah Sowls

   The Reverend Micah Sowls,
   He shouts and yells and howls,
   He screams, he mouths, he bumps,
   He foams, he rants, he thumps.

His armour he has buckled on, to wage
The regulation war against the Stage;
And warns his congregation all to shun
The Presence-Chamber of the Evil One,

   The subjects sad enough
   To make him rant and puff,
   And fortunately, too,
   His Bishops in a pew.

So Reverend Micah claps on extra steam,
His eyes are flashing with superior gleam,
He is as energetic as can be,
For there are fatter livings in that see.

The Bishop, when its oer,
Goes through the vestry door,
Where Micah, very red,
Is mopping of his head.

Pardon, my Lord, your Sowls excessive zeal,
It is a theme on which I strongly feel.
(The sermon somebody had sent him down
From London, at a charge of half-a-crown.)

   The Bishop bowed his head,
   And, acquiescing, said,
   Ive heard your well-meant rage
   Against the Modern Stage.

A modern Theatre, as I heard you say,
Sows seeds of evil broadcastwell it may;
But let me ask you, my respected son,
Pray, have you ever ventured into one?

   My Lord, said Micah, no!
   I never, never go!
   What!  Go and see a play?
   My goodness gracious, nay!

The worthy Bishop said, My friend, no doubt
The Stage may be the place you make it out;
But if, my Reverend Sowls, you never go,
I dont quite understand how youre to know.

   Well, really, Micah said,
   Ive often heard and read,
   But never godo you?
   The Bishop said, I do.

That proves me wrong, said Micah, in a trice:
I thought it all frivolity and vice.
The Bishop handed him a printed card;
Go to a theatre where they play our Bard.

   The Bishop took his leave,
   Rejoicing in his sleeve.
   The next ensuing day
   Sowls went and heard a play.

He saw a dreary person on the stage,
Who mouthed and mugged in simulated rage,
Who growled and spluttered in a mode absurd,
And spoke an English Sowls had never heard.

   For gaunt was spoken garnt,
   And haunt transformed to harnt,
   And wrath pronounced as rath,
   And death was changed to dath.

For hours and hours that dismal actor walked,
And talked, and talked, and talked, and talked,
Till lethargy upon the parson crept,
And sleepy Micah Sowls serenely slept.

   He slept away until
   The farce that closed the bill
   Had warned him not to stay,
   And then he went away.

I thought my gait ridiculous, said he
My elocution faulty as could be;
I thought I mumbled on a matchless plan
I had not seen our great Tragedian!

   Forgive me, if you can,
   O great Tragedian!
   I own it with a sigh
   Youre drearier than I!

William Schwenck Gilbert's other poems:
  1. The Modest Couple
  2. The Bab Ballads. Ferdinando and Elvira; or, the Gentle Pieman
  3. The Bab Ballads. The Phantom Curate
  4. The Bab Ballads. The Force of Argument
  5. The Bab Ballads. Gentle Alice Brown

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