Poems of the Week: Light Verse and Doggerel
"The Profane Ballad of Ecclesiastical Reform"
There's only way with recalcitrant clerks,
Saith experience under the sun:
Only the headsman and gallows will work
To make 'em behave and to pray well to God.
You can keep all your councils and posh seminaries,
Your hands on your beads and your heads in the mire,
I'm with Constantine, Charlemagne, Justin and Harry:
Be faithful to Christ or be fuel for the pyre.
Trust not in mere pontiffs and monkish distinctions,
The Church is a Lady who follows her Man--
And Christ is a King incarnate in chieftans
And ever by sword-arms did Christendom stand.
THE RIVAL CURATES. LIST while the poet trolls Of MR. CLAYTON HOOPER, Who had a cure of souls At Spiffton-extra-Sooper. He lived on curds and whey, And daily sang their praises, And then he'd go and play With buttercups and daisies. Wild croquet HOOPER banned, And all the sports of Mammon, He warred with cribbage, and He exorcised backgammon. His helmet was a glance That spoke of holy gladness; A saintly smile his lance; His shield a tear of sadness. His Vicar smiled to see This armour on him buckled: With pardonable glee He blessed himself and chuckled. "In mildness to abound My curate's sole design is; In all the country round There's none so mild as mine is!" And HOOPER, disinclined His trumpet to be blowing, Yet didn't think you'd find A milder curate going. A friend arrived one day At Spiffton-extra-Sooper, And in this shameful way He spoke to Mr. HOOPER: "You think your famous name For mildness can't be shaken, That none can blot your fame - But, HOOPER, you're mistaken! "Your mind is not as blank As that of HOPLEY PORTER, Who holds a curate's rank At Assesmilk-cum-Worter. "HE plays the airy flute, And looks depressed and blighted, Doves round about him 'toot,' And lambkins dance delighted. "HE labours more than you At worsted work, and frames it; In old maids' albums, too, Sticks seaweed - yes, and names it!" The tempter said his say, Which pierced him like a needle - He summoned straight away His sexton and his beadle. (These men were men who could Hold liberal opinions: On Sundays they were good - On week-days they were minions.) "To HOPLEY PORTER go, Your fare I will afford you - Deal him a deadly blow, And blessings shall reward you. "But stay - I do not like Undue assassination, And so before you strike, Make this communication: "I'll give him this one chance - If he'll more gaily bear him, Play croquet, smoke, and dance, I willingly will spare him." They went, those minions true, To Assesmilk-cum-Worter, And told their errand to The REVEREND HOPLEY PORTER. "What?" said that reverend gent, "Dance through my hours of leisure? Smoke? - bathe myself with scent? - Play croquet? Oh, with pleasure! "Wear all my hair in curl? Stand at my door and wink - so - At every passing girl? My brothers, I should think so! "For years I've longed for some Excuse for this revulsion: Now that excuse has come - I do it on compulsion!!!" He smoked and winked away - This REVEREND HOPLEY PORTER - The deuce there was to pay At Assesmilk-cum-Worter. And HOOPER holds his ground, In mildness daily growing - They think him, all around, The mildest curate going. --W.S. Gilbert