William Schwenck Gilbert ( )

The Bab Ballads. John and Freddy

John courted lovely Mary Ann,
   So likewise did his brother, Freddy.
Fred was a very soft young man,
   While John, though quick, was most unsteady.

Fred was a graceful kind of youth,
   But John was very much the strongest.
Oh, dance away, said she, in truth,
   Ill marry him who dances longest.

John tries the maidens taste to strike
   With gay, grotesque, outrageous dresses,
And dances comically, like
   Clodoche and Co., at the Princesss.

But Freddy tries another style,
   He knows some graceful steps and does em
A breathing PoemWomans smile
   A man all poesy and buzzem.

Now Freddys operatic pas
   Now Johnnys hornpipe seems entrapping:
Now Freddys graceful entrechats
   Now Johnnys skilful cellar-flapping.

For many hoursfor many days
   For many weeks performed each brother,
For each was active in his ways,
   And neither would give in to tother.

After a month of this, they say
   (The maid was getting bored and moody)
A wandering curate passed that way
   And talked a lot of goody-goody.

Oh my, said he, with solemn frown,
   I tremble for each dancing frater,
Like unregenerated clown
   And harlequin at some the-ayter.

He showed that men, in dancing, do
   Both impiously and absurdly,
And proved his proposition true,
   With Firstly, Secondly, and Thirdly.

For months both John and Freddy danced,
   The curates protests little heeding;
For months the curates words enhanced
   The sinfulness of their proceeding.

At length they bowed to Natures rule
   Their steps grew feeble and unsteady,
Till Freddy fainted on a stool,
   And Johnny on the top of Freddy.

Decide! quoth they, let him be named,
   Who henceforth as his wife may rank you.
Ive changed my views, the maiden said,
   I only marry curates, thank you!

Says Freddy, Here is goings on!
   To bust myself with rage Im ready.
Ill be a curate! whispers John
   And I, exclaimed poetic Freddy.

But while they read for it, these chaps,
   The curate booked the maiden bonny
And when shes buried him, perhaps,
   Shell marry Frederick or Johnny.

William Schwenck Gilbert's other poems:
  1. The Bab Ballads. The Phantom Curate
  2. The Played-Out Humorist
  3. The Bab Ballads. The Troubadour
  4. The Bab Ballads. Ferdinando and Elvira; or, the Gentle Pieman
  5. The Bab Ballads. The Precocious Baby

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