Rate this poem:(0.00 / 0 votes)

The Martinet



Some time ago, in simple verse
I sang the story true
Of CAPTAIN REECE, the MANTELPIECE,
And all her happy crew.

I showed how any captain may
Attach his men to him,
If he but heeds their smallest needs,
And studies every whim.

Now mark how, by Draconic rule
And HAUTEUR ill-advised,
The noblest crew upon the Blue
May be demoralized.

When his ungrateful country placed
Kind REECE upon half-pay,
Without much claim SIR BERKELY came,
And took command one day.

SIR BERKELY was a martinet -
A stern unyielding soul -
Who ruled his ship by dint of whip
And horrible black-hole.

A sailor who was overcome
From having freely dined,
And chanced to reel when at the wheel,
He instantly confined!

And tars who, when an action raged,
Appeared alarmed or scared,
And those below who wished to go,
He very seldom spared.

E'en he who smote his officer
For punishment was booked,
And mutinies upon the seas
He rarely overlooked.

In short, the happy MANTELPIECE,
Where all had gone so well,
Beneath that fool SIR BERKELY'S rule
Became a floating hell.

When first SIR BERKELY came aboard
He read a speech to all,
And told them how he'd made a vow
To act on duty's call.

Then WILLIAM LEE, he up and said
(The Captain's coxswain he),
"We've heard the speech your honour's made,
And werry pleased we be.

"We won't pretend, my lad, as how
We're glad to lose our REECE;
Urbane, polite, he suited quite
The saucy MANTELPIECE.

"But if your honour gives your mind
To study all our ways,
With dance and song we'll jog along
As in those happy days.

"I like your honour's looks, and feel
You're worthy of your sword.
Your hand, my lad - I'm doosid glad
To welcome you aboard!"

SIR BERKELY looked amazed, as though
He didn't understand.
"Don't shake your head," good WILLIAM said,
"It is an honest hand.

"It's grasped a better hand than yourn -
Come, gov'nor, I insist!"
The Captain stared - the coxswain glared -
The hand became a fist!

"Down, upstart!" said the hardy salt;
But BERKELY dodged his aim,
And made him go in chains below:
The seamen murmured "Shame!"

He stopped all songs at 12 p.m.,
Stopped hornpipes when at sea,
And swore his cot (or bunk) should not
Be used by aught than he.

He never joined their daily mess,
Nor asked them to his own,
But chaffed in gay and social way
The officers alone.

His First Lieutenant, PETER, was
As useless as could be,
A helpless stick, and always sick
When there was any sea.

This First Lieutenant proved to be
His foster-sister MAY,
Who went to sea for love of he
In masculine array.

And when he learnt the curious fact,
Did he emotion show,
Or dry her tears or end her fears
By marrying her? No!

Or did he even try to soothe
This maiden in her teens?
Oh, no! - instead he made her wed
The Sergeant of Marines!

Of course such Spartan discipline
Would make an angel fret;
They drew a lot, and WILLIAM shot
This fearful martinet.

The Admiralty saw how ill
They'd treated CAPTAIN REECE;
He was restored once more aboard
The saucy MANTELPIECE.

Font size:
 

Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:49 min read
76 Views

William Schwenck Gilbert

Sir William Schwenck Gilbert was an English dramatist librettist poet and illustrator best known for his fourteen comic operas produced in collaboration with the composer Sir Arthur Sullivan of which the most famous include HMS Pinafore The Pirates of Penzance and one of the most frequently performed works in the history of musical theatre The Mikado These as well as most of their other Savoy operas continue to be performed regularly throughout the English-speaking world and beyond by opera companies repertory companies schools and community theatre groups Lines from these works have become part of the English language such as short sharp shock What never Well hardly ever and Let the punishment fit the crime Gilbert also wrote the Bab Ballads an extensive collection of light verse accompanied by his own comical drawings His creative output included over 75 plays and libretti numerous stories poems lyrics and various other comic and serious pieces His plays and realistic style of stage direction inspired other dramatists including Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw According to The Cambridge History of English and American Literature Gilberts lyrical facility and his mastery of metre raised the poetical quality of comic opera to a position that it had never reached before and has not reached since Source - Wikipedia more…

All William Schwenck Gilbert poems | William Schwenck Gilbert Books

FAVORITE (0 fans)

Discuss this William Schwenck Gilbert poem with the community:

0 Comments

    Translation

    Find a translation for this poem in other languages:

    Select another language:

    • - Select -
    • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
    • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
    • Español (Spanish)
    • Esperanto (Esperanto)
    • 日本語 (Japanese)
    • Português (Portuguese)
    • Deutsch (German)
    • العربية (Arabic)
    • Français (French)
    • Русский (Russian)
    • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
    • 한국어 (Korean)
    • עברית (Hebrew)
    • Gaeilge (Irish)
    • Українська (Ukrainian)
    • اردو (Urdu)
    • Magyar (Hungarian)
    • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
    • Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Italiano (Italian)
    • தமிழ் (Tamil)
    • Türkçe (Turkish)
    • తెలుగు (Telugu)
    • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
    • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
    • Čeština (Czech)
    • Polski (Polish)
    • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Românește (Romanian)
    • Nederlands (Dutch)
    • Ελληνικά (Greek)
    • Latinum (Latin)
    • Svenska (Swedish)
    • Dansk (Danish)
    • Suomi (Finnish)
    • فارسی (Persian)
    • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
    • հայերեն (Armenian)
    • Norsk (Norwegian)
    • English (English)

    Citation

    Use the citation below to add this poem to your bibliography:

    Style:MLAChicagoAPA

    "The Martinet" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 23 Oct. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/41308/the-martinet>.

    Become a member!

    Join our community of poets and poetry lovers to share your work and offer feedback and encouragement to writers all over the world!

    Browse Poetry.com

    Quiz

    Are you a poetry master?

    »
    Lewis Carroll wrote: "You are old father William, the young man said..."
    • A. "and you're going to die tonight"
    • B. "and your hair has become very white"
    • C. "and your eyes have become less bright"
    • D. "and you seem to have lost your sight"

    Our favorite collection of

    Famous Poets

    »