(Poem #1331) Faithless Sally Brown
An old ballad. Young Ben he was a nice young man, A carpenter by trade; And he fell in love with Sally Brown, That was a lady's maid. But as they fetch'd a walk one day, They met a press-gang crew; And Sally she did faint away, Whilst Ben he was brought to. The Boatswain swore with wicked words, Enough to shock a saint, That though she did seem in a fit, 'Twas nothing but a feint. "Come, girl," said he, "hold up your head, He'll be as good as me; For when your swain is in our boat, A boatswain he will be." So when they'd made their game of her, And taken off her elf, She roused, and found she only was A coming to herself. "And is he gone, and is he gone?" She cried, and wept outright: "Then I will to the water side, And see him out of sight." A waterman came up to her,-- "Now, young woman," said he, "If you weep on so, you will make Eye-water in the sea." "Alas! they've taken my beau Ben To sail with old Benbow;" And her woe began to run afresh, As if she'd said Gee woe! Says he, "They've only taken him To the Tender ship, you see"; "The Tender-ship," cried Sally Brown "What a hard-ship that must be!" "O! would I were a mermaid now, For then I'd follow him; But Oh!--I'm not a fish-woman, And so I cannot swim. "Alas! I was not born beneath The virgin and the scales, So I must curse my cruel stars, And walk about in Wales." Now Ben had sail'd to many a place That's underneath the world; But in two years the ship came home, And all her sails were furl'd. But when he call'd on Sally Brown, To see how she went on, He found she'd got another Ben, Whose Christian-name was John. "O Sally Brown, O Sally Brown, How could you serve me so? I've met with many a breeze before, But never such a blow": Then reading on his 'bacco box He heaved a bitter sigh, And then began to eye his pipe, And then to pipe his eye. And then he tried to sing "All's Well," But could not though he tried; His head was turn'd, and so he chew'd His pigtail till he died. His death, which happen'd in his berth, At forty-odd befell: They went and told the sexton, and The sexton toll'd the bell.
A series of bad puns disguised as a poem - what's not to like? :) The last two lines have the distinction of being the first piece of Hood I ever heard, and their charm has not faded with time - some of the other puns limp a little, but that one is flawless. It is interesting to compare today's poem with Carryl's "How a Cat Was Annoyed and a Poet Was Booted" [Poem #273] - the latter takes a similar "pack in as many bad puns as we can" approach, but at the same time, pokes fun at itself for doing so. And, I believe, manages to be a funnier poem in the process - Hood has the occasional gem, but the poem as a whole is slightly laboured. martin