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Faithless Sally Brown -- Thomas Hood

(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.
-- Thomas Hood
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.


174 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Colin.Blowers said...

Don't be too hard on Hood - his output was prodigious, so you can allow him
a few lapses. Even Will Shakespeare had an off day from time to time !


Colin Blowers

Pete Nancarrow said...

I have only just found your site when "Googling" for the words of "The Green Eye Of The Yellow God", which was one of my father's party pieces, that he learnt whilst on army service in Burma and India during WW2. I have now been at "Minstrels" for hours reading many enjoyable works.

What prompted this message was finding the above "Faithless Sally Brown" by Thomas Hood, which gave me a strange "deja-vu" sensation, because another of my father's favourite pieces, which he could recite flawlessly, was "Faithless Nelly Gray", another Thomas Hood poem, about another "Ben", also consisting of 17 verses of wry humour and puns.

It begins:

Ben Battle was a soldier bold,
And used to war's alarms,
But a cannon-ball took off his legs,
So he laid down his arms.

Now as they bore him off the field,
Said he "Let others shoot;
For here I leave my second leg,
And the Forty-second Foot."

If you do not have it and would like the rest, I will send it in.
Thanks for such a great collection of poems, I will certainly be back.

Pete N.

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pratishtha said...

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.

yogesh kumawat said...

I believe, manages to be a funnier poem in
the process - Hood has the occasional gem, but the poem as a whole is
slightly based essay writers

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