(William Schwenck Gilbert)






The Bab Ballads. Bob Polter


Bob Polter was a navvy, and
   His hands were coarse, and dirty too,
His homely face was rough and tanned,
   His time of life was thirty-two.

He lived among a working clan
   (A wife he hadnt got at all),
A decent, steady, sober man
   No saint, howevernot at all.

He smoked, but in a modest way,
   Because he thought he needed it;
He drank a pot of beer a day,
   And sometimes he exceeded it.

At times hed pass with other men
   A loud convivial night or two,
With, very likely, now and then,
   On Saturdays, a fight or two.

But still he was a sober soul,
   A labour-never-shirking man,
Who paid his wayupon the whole
   A decent English working man.

One day, when at the Nelsons Head
   (For which he may be blamed of you),
A holy man appeared, and said,
   Oh, Robert, Im ashamed of you.

He laid his hand on Roberts beer
   Before he could drink up any,
And on the floor, with sigh and tear,
   He poured the pot of thruppenny.

Oh, Robert, at this very bar
   A truth youll be discovering,
A good and evil genius are
   Around your noddle hovering.

They both are here to bid you shun
   The other ones society,
For Total Abstinence is one,
   The other, Inebriety.

He waved his handa vapour came
   A wizard Polter reckoned him;
A bogy rose and called his name,
   And with his finger beckoned him.

The monsters salient points to sum,
   His heavy breath was portery:
His glowing nose suggested rum:
   His eyes were gin-and-wortery.

His dress was tornfor dregs of ale
   And slops of gin had rusted it;
His pimpled face was wan and pale,
   Where filth had not encrusted it.

Come, Polter, said the fiend, begin,
   And keep the bowl a-flowing on
A working man needs pints of gin
   To keep his clockwork going on.

Bob shuddered: Ah, youve made a miss
   If you take me for one of you:
You filthy beast, get out of this
   Bob Polter dont want none of you.

The demon gave a drunken shriek,
   And crept away in stealthiness,
And lo! instead, a person sleek,
   Who seemed to burst with healthiness.

In me, as your adviser hints,
   Of Abstinence youve got a type
Of Mr. Tweedies pretty prints
   I am the happy prototype.

If you abjure the social toast,
   And pipes, and such frivolities,
You possibly some day may boast
   My prepossessing qualities!

Bob rubbed his eyes, and made em blink:
   You almost make me tremble, you!
If I abjure fermented drink,
   Shall I, indeed, resemble you?

And will my whiskers curl so tight?
   My cheeks grow smug and muttony?
My face become so red and white?
   My coat so blue and buttony?

Will trousers, such as yours, array
   Extremities inferior?
Will chubbiness assert its sway
   All over my exterior?

In this, my unenlightened state,
   To work in heavy boots I comes;
Will pumps henceforward decorate
   My tiddle toddle tootsicums?

And shall I get so plump and fresh,
   And look no longer seedily?
My skin will henceforth fit my flesh
   So tightly and so Tweedie-ly?

The phantom said, Youll have all this,
   Youll know no kind of huffiness,
Your life will be one chubby bliss,
   One long unruffled puffiness!

Be off! said irritated Bob.
   Why come you here to bother one?
You pharisaical old snob,
   Youre wuss almost than tother one!

I takes my pipeI takes my pot,
   And drunk Im never seen to be:
Im no teetotaller or sot,
   And as I am I mean to be!






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