William Schwenck Gilbert ( )


The Bab Ballads. The Periwinkle Girl


Ive often thought that headstrong youths
   Of decent education,
Determine all-important truths,
   With strange precipitation.

The ever-ready victims they,
   Of logical illusions,
And in a self-assertive way
   They jump at strange conclusions.

Now take my case: Ere sorrow could
   My ample forehead wrinkle,
I had determined that I should
   Not care to be a winkle.

A winkle, I would oft advance
   With readiness provoking,
Can seldom flirt, and never dance,
   Or soothe his mind by smoking.

In short, I spurned the shelly joy,
   And spoke with strange decision
Men pointed to me as a boy
   Who held them in derision.

But I was youngtoo young, by far
   Or I had been more wary,
I knew not then that winkles are
   The stock-in-trade of Mary.

I had not watched her sunlight blithe
   As oer their shells it dances
Ive seen those winkles almost writhe
   Beneath her beaming glances.

Of slighting all the winkly brood
   I surely had been chary,
If I had known they formed the food
   And stock-in-trade of Mary.

Both high and low and great and small
   Fell prostrate at her tootsies,
They all were noblemen, and all
   Had balances at Couttss.

Dukes with the lovely maiden dealt,
   Duke Bailey and Duke Humphy,
Who ate her winkles till they felt
   Exceedingly uncomfy.

Duke Bailey greatest wealth computes,
   And sticks, they say, at no-thing,
He wears a pair of golden boots
   And silver underclothing.

Duke Humphy, as I understand,
   Though mentally acuter,
His boots are only silver, and
   His underclothing pewter.

A third adorer had the girl,
   A man of lowly station
A miserable grovling Earl
   Besought her approbation.

This humble cad she did refuse
   With much contempt and loathing,
He wore a pair of leather shoes
   And cambric underclothing!

Ha! ha! she cried.  Upon my word!
   Well, reallycome, I never!
Oh, go along, its too absurd!
   My goodness!  Did you ever?

Two Dukes would Mary make a bride,
   And from her foes defend her
Well, not exactly that, they cried,
   We offer guilty splendour.

We do not offer marriage rite,
   So please dismiss the notion!
Oh dear, said she, that alters quite
   The state of my emotion.

The Earl he up and says, says he,
   Dismiss them to their orgies,
For I am game to marry thee
   Quite reglar at St. Georges.

(Hed had, it happily befell,
   A decent education,
His views would have befitted well
   A far superior station.)

His sterling worth had worked a cure,
   She never heard him grumble;
She saw his soul was good and pure,
   Although his rank was humble.

Her views of earldoms and their lot,
   All underwent expansion
Come, Virtue in an earldoms cot!
   Go, Vice in ducal mansion!



William Schwenck Gilbert's other poems:
  1. The Bab Ballads. To Phoebe
  2. Songs of a Savoyard. Proper Pride
  3. The Bab Ballads. The Bishop of Rum-ti-Foo
  4. The Bab Ballads. The Sensation Captain
  5. The Bab Ballads. To the Terrestrial Globe


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