The Disconcerted Tenor

A poem by William Schwenck Gilbert

A tenor, all singers above
(This doesn't admit of a question),
Should keep himself quiet,
Attend to his diet,
And carefully nurse his digestion.
But when he is madly in love,
It's certain to tell on his singing -
You can't do chromatics
With proper emphatics
When anguish your bosom is wringing!
When distracted with worries in plenty,
And his pulse is a hundred and twenty,
And his fluttering bosom the slave of mistrust is,
A tenor can't do himself justice.
Now observe - (SINGS A HIGH NOTE) -
You see, I can't do myself justice!

I could sing, if my fervour were mock,
It's easy enough if you're acting,
But when one's emotion
Is born of devotion,
You mustn't be over-exacting.
One ought to be firm as a rock
To venture a shake in VIBRATO;
When fervour's expected,
Keep cool and collected,
Or never attempt AGITATO.
But, of course, when his tongue is of leather,
And his lips appear pasted together,
And his sensitive palate as dry as a crust is,
A tenor can't do himself justice.
Now observe - (SINGS A CADENCE) -
It's no use - I can't do myself justice!

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