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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.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:21 min read
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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…

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    "The Rival Curates" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 17 Sep. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/41326/the-rival-curates>.

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