John And Freddy

A poem by William Schwenck Gilbert

JOHN courted lovely MARY ANN,
So likewise did his brother, FREDDY.
FRED was a very soft young man,
While JOHN, though quick, was most unsteady.

FRED was a graceful kind of youth,
But JOHN was very much the strongest.
"Oh, dance away," said she, "in truth,
I'll marry him who dances longest."

JOHN tries the maiden's taste to strike
With gay, grotesque, outrageous dresses,
And dances comically, like
CLODOCHE AND Co., at the Princess's.

But FREDDY tries another style,
He knows some graceful steps and does 'em
A breathing Poem Woman's smile
A man all poesy and buzzem.

Now FREDDY'S operatic pas
Now JOHNNY'S hornpipe seems entrapping:
Now FREDDY'S graceful entrechats
Now JOHNNY'S skilful "cellar-flapping."

For many hours for many days
For many weeks performed each brother,
For each was active in his ways,
And neither would give in to t'other.

After a month of this, they say
(The maid was getting bored and moody)
A wandering curate passed that way
And talked a lot of goody-goody.

"Oh my," said he, with solemn frown,
"I tremble for each dancing frater,
Like unregenerated clown
And harlequin at some the-ayter."

He showed that men, in dancing, do
Both impiously and absurdly,
And proved his proposition true,
With Firstly, Secondly, and Thirdly.

For months both JOHN and FREDDY danced,
The curate's protests little heeding;
For months the curate's words enhanced
The sinfulness of their proceeding.

At length they bowed to Nature's rule
Their steps grew feeble and unsteady,
Till FREDDY fainted on a stool,
And JOHNNY on the top of FREDDY.

"Decide!" quoth they, "let him be named,
Who henceforth as his wife may rank you."
"I've changed my views," the maiden said,
"I only marry curates, thank you!"

Says FREDDY, "Here is goings on!
To bust myself with rage I'm ready."
"I'll be a curate!" whispers JOHN
"And I," exclaimed poetic FREDDY.

But while they read for it, these chaps,
The curate booked the maiden bonny
And when she's buried him, perhaps,
She'll marry FREDERICK or JOHNNY.

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