The Sailor Boy to His Lass

William Schwenck Gilbert 1836 – 1911

I go away this blessed day,
To sail across the sea, MATILDA!
My vessel starts for various parts
At twenty after three, MATILDA.
I hardly know where we may go,
Or if it's near or far, MATILDA,
For CAPTAIN HYDE does not confide
In any 'fore-mast tar, MATILDA!

Beneath my ban that mystic man
Shall suffer, COUTE QUI COUTE, MATILDA!
What right has he to keep from me
The Admiralty route, MATILDA?
Because, forsooth! I am a youth
Of common sailors' lot, MATILDA!
Am I a man on human plan
Designed, or am I not, MATILDA?

But there, my lass, we'll let that pass!
With anxious love I burn, MATILDA.
I want to know if we shall go
To church when I return, MATILDA?
Your eyes are red, you bow your head;
It's pretty clear you thirst, MATILDA,
To name the day - What's that you say?
- "You'll see me further first," MATILDA?

I can't mistake the signs you make,
Although you barely speak, MATILDA;
Though pure and young, you thrust your tongue
Right in your pretty cheek, MATILDA!
My dear, I fear I hear you sneer -
I do - I'm sure I do, MATILDA!
With simple grace you make a face,
Ejaculating, "Ugh!" MATILDA.

Oh, pause to think before you drink
The dregs of Lethe's cup, MATILDA!
Remember, do, what I've gone through,
Before you give me up, MATILDA!
Recall again the mental pain
Of what I've had to do, MATILDA!
And be assured that I've endured
It, all along of you, MATILDA!

Do you forget, my blithesome pet,
How once with jealous rage, MATILDA,
I watched you walk and gaily talk
With some one thrice your age, MATILDA?
You squatted free upon his knee,
A sight that made me sad, MATILDA!
You pinched his cheek with friendly tweak,
Which almost drove me mad, MATILDA!

I knew him not, but hoped to spot
Some man you thought to wed, MATILDA!
I took a gun, my darling one,
And shot him through the head, MATILDA!
I'm made of stuff that's rough and gruff
Enough, I own; but, ah, MATILDA!
It DID annoy your sailor boy
To find it was your pa, MATILDA!

I've passed a life of toil and strife,
And disappointments deep, MATILDA;
I've lain awake with dental ache
Until I fell asleep, MATILDA!
At times again I've missed a train,
Or p'rhaps run short of tin, MATILDA,
And worn a boot on corns that shoot,
Or, shaving, cut my chin, MATILDA.

But, oh! no trains - no dental pains -
Believe me when I say, MATILDA,
No corns that shoot - no pinching boot
Upon a summer day, MATILDA -
It's my belief, could cause such grief
As that I've suffered for, MATILDA,
My having shot in vital spot
Your old progenitor, MATILDA.

Bethink you how I've kept the vow
I made one winter day, MATILDA -
That, come what could, I never would
Remain too long away, MATILDA.
And, oh! the crimes with which, at times,
I've charged my gentle mind, MATILDA,
To keep the vow I made - and now
You treat me so unkind, MATILDA!

For when at sea, off Caribbee,
I felt my passion burn, MATILDA,
By passion egged, I went and begged
The captain to return, MATILDA.
And when, my pet, I couldn't get
That captain to agree, MATILDA,
Right through a sort of open port
I pitched him in the sea, MATILDA!

Remember, too, how all the crew
With indignation blind, MATILDA,
Distinctly swore they ne'er before
Had thought me so unkind, MATILDA.
And how they'd shun me one by one -
An unforgiving group, MATILDA -
I stopped their howls and sulky scowls
By pizening their soup, MATILDA!

So pause to think, before you drink
The dregs of Lethe's cup, MATILDA;
Remember, do, what I've gone through,
Before you give me up, MATILDA.
Recall again the mental pain
Of what I've had to do, MATILDA,
And be assured that I've endured
It, all along of you, MATILDA!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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William Schwenck Gilbert

Sir William Schwenck Gilbert was an English dramatist librettist poet and illustrator best known for his fourteen comic operas produced in collaboration with the composer Sir Arthur Sullivan of which the most famous include HMS Pinafore The Pirates of Penzance and one of the most frequently performed works in the history of musical theatre The Mikado These as well as most of their other Savoy operas continue to be performed regularly throughout the English-speaking world and beyond by opera companies repertory companies schools and community theatre groups Lines from these works have become part of the English language such as short sharp shock What never Well hardly ever and Let the punishment fit the crime Gilbert also wrote the Bab Ballads an extensive collection of light verse accompanied by his own comical drawings His creative output included over 75 plays and libretti numerous stories poems lyrics and various other comic and serious pieces His plays and realistic style of stage direction inspired other dramatists including Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw According to The Cambridge History of English and American Literature Gilberts lyrical facility and his mastery of metre raised the poetical quality of comic opera to a position that it had never reached before and has not reached since Source - Wikipedia more…

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    "The Sailor Boy to His Lass" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 19 Sep. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/41328/the-sailor-boy-to-his-lass>.

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