An elderly person - a prophet by trade -
With his quips and tips
On withered old lips,
He married a young and a beautiful maid;
The cunning old blade!
Though rather decayed,
He married a beautiful, beautiful maid.

She was only eighteen, and as fair as could be,
With her tempting smiles
And maidenly wiles,
And he was a trifle past seventy-three:
Now what she could see
Is a puzzle to me,
In a prophet of seventy - seventy-three!

Of all their acquaintances bidden (or bad)
With their loud high jinks
And underbred winks,
None thought they'd a family have - but they had;
A dear little lad
Who drove 'em half mad,
For he turned out a horribly fast little cad.

For when he was born he astonished all by,
With their "Law, dear me!"
"Did ever you see?"
He'd a pipe in his mouth and a glass in his eye,
A hat all awry -
An octagon tie -
And a miniature - miniature glass in his eye.

He grumbled at wearing a frock and a cap,
With his "Oh, dear, oh!"
And his "Hang it! 'oo know!"
And he turned up his nose at his excellent pap -
"My friends, it's a tap
Dat is not worf a rap."
(Now this was remarkably excellent pap.)

He'd chuck his nurse under the chin, and he'd say,
With his "Fal, lal, lal" -
"'Oo doosed fine gal!"
This shocking precocity drove 'em away:
"A month from to-day
Is as long as I'll stay -
Then I'd wish, if you please, for to toddle away."

His father, a simple old gentleman, he
With nursery rhyme
And "Once on a time,"
Would tell him the story of "Little Bo-P,"
"So pretty was she,
So pretty and wee,
As pretty, as pretty, as pretty could be."

But the babe, with a dig that would startle an ox,
With his "C'ck! Oh, my! -
Go along wiz 'oo, fie!"
Would exclaim, "I'm afraid 'oo a socking ole fox."
Now a father it shocks,
And it whitens his locks,
When his little babe calls him a shocking old fox.

The name of his father he'd couple and pair
(With his ill-bred laugh,
And insolent chaff)
With those of the nursery heroines rare -
Virginia the Fair,
Or Good Goldenhair,
Till the nuisance was more than a prophet could bear.

"There's Jill and White Cat" (said the bold little brat,
With his loud, "Ha, ha!")
"'Oo sly ickle Pa!
Wiz 'oo Beauty, Bo-Peep, and 'oo Mrs. Jack Sprat!
I've noticed 'oo pat
MY pretty White Cat -
I sink dear mamma ought to know about dat!"

He early determined to marry and wive,
For better or worse
With his elderly nurse -
Which the poor little boy didn't live to contrive:
His hearth didn't thrive -
No longer alive,
He died an enfeebled old dotard at five!

MORAL.

Now, elderly men of the bachelor crew,
With wrinkled hose
And spectacled nose,
Don't marry at all - you may take it as true
If ever you do
The step you will rue,
For your babes will be elderly - elderly too.


About William Schwenck Gilbert


William Schwenck Gilbert, born in London in 1836, was the son of a retired naval surgeon. Except for a kidnapping by Italian brigands in Italy at age two, and a ransomed release, he appears to have had a very normal upbringing. Beyond ordinary schooling, he took training as an artillery officer and was tutored in military science with hopes of participating in the Crimean War. Unfortunately for him, but not for us, he did not graduate until after the War was over. Gilbert subsequently joined the militia and was a member for 20 years. After finishing his military training Gilbert... Read more...

Poet of the day

Isaac Rosenberg was an English poet of the First World War who was considered to be one of the greatest of all English war poets. His "Poems from the Trenches" are recognised as some of the most outstanding written during the First World War.

Isaac Rosenberg was born to Barnet...
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Poem of the day


Who will away to Athens with me? Who
Loves choral songs and maidens crown'd with flowers,
Unenvious? mount the pinnace; hoist the sail.
I promise ye, as many as are here,
Ye shall not, while ye tarry with me, taste
From unrinsed barrel the diluted...
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