William Schwenck Gilbert ( )


Songs of a Savoyard. The Modern Major-General


I am the very pattern of a modern Major-Gineral,
Ive information vegetable, animal, and mineral;
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical,
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical;
Im very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical,
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical;
About binomial theorem Im teeming with a lot o news,
With interesting facts about the square of the hypotenuse,
Im very good at integral and differential calculus,
I know the scientific names of beings animalculous.
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-Gineral.

I know our mythic historyKing Arthurs and Sir Caradocs,
I answer hard acrostics, Ive a pretty taste for paradox;
I quote in elegiacs all the crimes of Heliogabalus,
In conics I can floor peculiarities parabolous.
I tell undoubted Raphaels from Gerard Dows and Zoffanies,
I know the croaking chorus from the Frogs of Aristophanes;
Then I can hum a fugue, of which Ive heard the musics din afore,
And whistle all the airs from that confounded nonsense Pinafore.
Then I can write a washing-bill in Babylonic cuneiform,
And tell you every detail of Caractacuss uniform.
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-Gineral.

In fact, when I know what is meant by mamelon and ravelin,
When I can tell at sight a Chassepôt rifle from a javelin,
When such affairs as sorties and surprises Im more wary at,
And when I know precisely what is meant by Commissariat,
When I have learnt what progress has been made in modern gunnery,
When I know more of tactics than a novice in a nunnery,
In short, when Ive a smattering of elementary strategy,
Youll say a better Major-General has never sat a gee
For my military knowledge, though Im plucky and adventury,
Has only been brought down to the beginning of the century.
But still in learning vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-Gineral!



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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