William Schwenck Gilbert

(1836 - 1911 / London / England)

Old Paul And Old Tim - Poem by William Schwenck Gilbert

When rival adorers come courting a maid,
There's something or other may often be said,
Why HE should be pitched upon rather than HIM.
This wasn't the case with Old PAUL and Old TIM.

No soul could discover a reason at all
For marrying TIMOTHY rather than PAUL;
Though all could have offered good reasons, on oath,
Against marrying either - or marrying both.

They were equally wealthy and equally old,
They were equally timid and equally bold;
They were equally tall as they stood in their shoes -
Between them, in fact, there was nothing to choose.

Had I been young EMILY, I should have said,
"You're both much too old for a pretty young maid,
Threescore at the least you are verging upon";
But I wasn't young EMILY. Let us get on.

No coward's blood ran in young EMILY'S veins,
Her martial old father loved bloody campaigns;
At the rumours of battles all over the globe
He pricked up his ears like the war-horse in "Job."

He chuckled to hear of a sudden surprise -
Of soldiers, compelled, through an enemy's spies,
Without any knapsacks or shakos to flee -
For an eminent army-contractor was he.

So when her two lovers, whose patience was tried,
Implored her between them at once to decide,
She told them she'd marry whichever might bring
Good proofs of his doing the pluckiest thing.

They both went away with a qualified joy:
That coward, Old PAUL, chose a very small boy,
And when no one was looking, in spite of his fears,
He set to work boxing that little boy's ears.

The little boy struggled and tugged at his hair,
But the lion was roused, and Old PAUL didn't care;
He smacked him, and whacked him, and boxed him, and kicked
Till the poor little beggar was royally licked.

Old TIM knew a trick worth a dozen of that,
So he called for his stick and he called for his hat.
"I'll cover myself with cheap glory - I'll go
And wallop the Frenchmen who live in Soho!

"The German invader is ravaging France
With infantry rifle and cavalry lance,
And beautiful Paris is fighting her best
To shake herself free from her terrible guest.

"The Frenchmen in London, in craven alarms,
Have all run away from the summons to arms;
They haven't the pluck of a pigeon - I'll go
And wallop the Frenchmen who skulk in Soho!"

Old TIMOTHY tried it and found it succeed:
That day he caused many French noses to bleed;
Through foggy Soho he spread fear and dismay,
And Frenchmen all round him in agony lay.

He took care to abstain from employing his fist
On the old and the crippled, for they might resist;
A crippled old man may have pluck in his breast,
But the young and the strong ones are cowards confest.

Old TIM and Old PAUL, with the list of their foes,
Prostrated themselves at their EMILY'S toes:
"Oh, which of us two is the pluckier blade?"
And EMILY answered and EMILY said:

"Old TIM has thrashed runaway Frenchmen in scores,
Who ought to be guarding their cities and shores;
Old PAUL has made little chaps' noses to bleed -
Old PAUL has accomplished the pluckier deed!"


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Read poems about / on: paris, london, horse, war, father, beautiful, work, hair, joy, fear, running, soldier, city



Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 1, 2004



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