(from The Mikado) Note: This fragment appears at the end of a longer song, in which various people explain why they will not trade places with a condemned man; after various different lead-ins ("I must decline..." "I don't much care..." "So I object...") they sing the above piece in chorus. Paralleling the enormous popularity of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, a number of the songs have achieved an almost independent prominence; notable examples being the Captain's song from HMS Pinafore and the Major General's song from The Pirates of Penzance. Slightly less famous, but no less noteworthy are some of the smaller, less standalone fragments embedded like gems within larger pieces. Although they require a bit of context to fully appreciate, they often show Gilbert at his very best; not a word out of place, not a break in the rhythm, and lyrics that stick in one's memory (though it's admittedly hard to see how this distinguishes them from anything else he wrote). The above piece is one of my two favourite fragments (the other being the 'Now is not this ridiculous' chorus from Patience); it also has a special place in my affection as being the first piece of G&S I ever read. I came across it unattributed, and long before I knew who either Gilbert or Sullivan were anyway, but fell in love with it; it remains the finest piece of alliterative patter verse I have yet encountered. (It was also a pleasant experience discovering who had written it, and being able to put a tune to the words). And of course no Mikado commentary would be complete without my urging you to listen, if at all possible, to what is undoubtedly the best work Gilbert and Sullivan have produced - the lyrics are great, but the music adds a whole new dimension.  Whole text at <[broken link] http://diamond.idbsu.edu/gas/mikado/libretto.txt>  possibly excepting Swinburne's 'Nephelidia', poem #99, though 'To Sit In Solemn Silence' has the advantage of being shorter and therefore better able to maintain consistency. For random Gilbert and Sullivan info, including a biography and links, see the previous pieces in the archive <[broken link] http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/index_poet.html>. - m.