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WS Gilbert


Ballad: The Two Ogres


Good children, list, if you're inclined,
And wicked children too -
This pretty ballad is designed
Especially for you.

Two ogres dwelt in Wickham Wold -
Each TRAITS distinctive had:
The younger was as good as gold,
The elder was as bad.

A wicked, disobedient son
Was JAMES M'ALPINE, and
A contrast to the elder one,
Good APPLEBODY BLAND.

M'ALPINE - brutes like him are few -
In greediness delights,
A melancholy victim to
Unchastened appetites.

Good, well-bred children every day
He ravenously ate, -
All boys were fish who found their way
Into M'ALPINE'S net:

Boys whose good breeding is innate,
Whose sums are always right;
And boys who don't expostulate
When sent to bed at night;

And kindly boys who never search
The nests of birds of song;
And serious boys for whom, in church,
No sermon is too long.

Contrast with JAMES'S greedy haste
And comprehensive hand,
The nice discriminating taste
Of APPLEBODY BLAND.

BLAND only eats bad boys, who swear -
Who CAN behave, but DON'T -
Disgraceful lads who say "don't care,"
And "shan't," and "can't," and "won't."

Who wet their shoes and learn to box,
And say what isn't true,
Who bite their nails and jam their frocks,
And make long noses too;

Who kick a nurse's aged shin,
And sit in sulky mopes;
And boys who twirl poor kittens in
Distracting zoetropes.

But JAMES, when he was quite a youth,
Had often been to school,
And though so bad, to tell the truth,
He wasn't quite a fool.

At logic few with him could vie;
To his peculiar sect
He could propose a fallacy
With singular effect.

So, when his Mentors said, "Expound -
Why eat good children - why?"
Upon his Mentors he would round
With this absurd reply:

"I have been taught to love the good -
The pure - the unalloyed -
And wicked boys, I've understood,
I always should avoid.

"Why do I eat good children - why?
Because I love them so!"
(But this was empty sophistry,
As your Papa can show.)

Now, though the learning of his friends
Was truly not immense,
They had a way of fitting ends
By rule of common sense.

"Away, away!" his Mentors cried,
"Thou uncongenial pest!
A quirk's a thing we can't abide,
A quibble we detest!

"A fallacy in your reply
Our intellect descries,
Although we don't pretend to spy
Exactly where it lies.

"In misery and penal woes
Must end a glutton's joys;
And learn how ogres punish those
Who dare to eat good boys.

"Secured by fetter, cramp, and chain,
And gagged securely - so -
You shall be placed in Drury Lane,
Where only good lads go.

"Surrounded there by virtuous boys,
You'll suffer torture wus
Than that which constantly annoys
Disgraceful TANTALUS.

("If you would learn the woes that vex
Poor TANTALUS, down there,
Pray borrow of Papa an ex-
Purgated LEMPRIERE.)

"But as for BLAND who, as it seems,
Eats only naughty boys,
We've planned a recompense that teems
With gastronomic joys.

"Where wicked youths in crowds are stowed
He shall unquestioned rule,
And have the run of Hackney Road
Reformatory School!"

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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