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When I was Young and Ignorant -- Patrick Barrington

Guest poem sent in by William Grey
(Poem #1698) When I was Young and Ignorant
 When I was young and ignorant I loved a Miss McDougall,
 Our days were spent in happiness, although our means were frugal;
 We did not sigh for worldly wealth, for vain and tawdry treasures,
 We were a simple country pair with simple country pleasures.
 Beneath the village chestnut-tree it was our joy to meet once;
 We used to tread the dewy fields with wonder-waking feet once;
 We wandered once in leafy lanes and walked in Woodlands shady;
 But now she's gone to Birmingham to be a Bearded Lady

 I loved her as I loved my life when I was young and tender,
 And happily our time was spent although our means were slender.
 We used to pass the golden days in countrified pursuits once;
 We walked through simple country bogs in simple country boots once.
 High hopes of happiness I had, but now my hopes are zero,
 Alas!  My love has left me now to carve her own career O;
 Not all the hopes of her I had of her are worth a maravedi;
 My love has gone to Birmingham to be a Bearded Lady.

 My love now dwells in circus halls with clowns and tight-rope dancers,
 Where dromedaries play bassoons and sea-lions do the lancers;
 She moves amongst trick-bicyclists, buffoons and comic waiters,
 With elephants and acrobats and prestidigitators.
 No longer daily by my side she wanders through the hay now,
 The glamour of the public eye has lured are far away now.
 Remorseless Fates, my tender hopes how cruelly betrayed ye!
 My love has gone to Birmingham to be a Bearded Lady.

 When I was young and ignorant I loved a Miss McDougall;
 But that was e'er she heard the call of Fame's imperious bugle.
 I thought her kind as she was fair, but I was green and calfish;
 My love, though brighter than a star, was colder than a starfish.
 High hopes of happiness I had when I was young and tender;
 But time and tide have falsified my juvenile agenda.
 Farewell, my castle is in the air! Phantasmal mansions, fade ye!
 My love has gone to Birmingham to be a Bearded Lady.
-- Patrick Barrington
Another chequered romantic adventure from the imagination of Patrick
Barrington, once again from 'Songs of a Sub-Man' (London: Methuen & Co Ltd,
1934). Earlier romantic adventures by Barrington on Minstrels are [1] and
[2].  As usual an eccentric choice of lover and also, as usual, romantic
disappointment.  Though Barrington never married I wonder: was he ever

William Grey

[1] Poem #1551, My Love is a Theosophist -- Patrick Barrington
[2] Poem #1597, I Met a Lady in the Wood -- Patrick Barrington

[Martin adds]

This one hits a new high for tortured yet perfect rhymes (even if he stole
the "worth a maravedi"/lady rhyme from Gilbert! :)). Calfish/starfish was
particularly groanworthy, especially since you can see it coming when he
mentions the star. Delightful stuff.

32 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Wilson Randle said...

First, I assume that others have already pointed out that this references A. E. Housman's "A Shropshire Lad" (e.g. poem XIII, "When I was one-and-twenty").

Second, I am indebted to you for introducing me to this and other Barrington poems (in school I encountered 'The Diplomatic Platypus', which I have since committed to memory as a party piece since I am a Canadian diplomat; but I only knew that and "I had a hippopotamus" before encountering your site). That said, I wonder whether there are not some typos in your version of "When I was Young and Ignorant"? You have commented elsewhere on Barrington's fine prosodic skills (though he too could rely on a reading to stretch a syllable as required: consider, "And soon he was appointed, so correct was his behaviour, / Our minister (without portfolio) to Trans-Moravia").

To be precise, I suspect four lines of harbouring typos.

First, it occurs to me that the seventh line of the second stanza (given as "Not all the hopes of her I had of her are worth a maravedi") should be, "Now all the hopes I had of her are worth a maravedi".

Second, I suspect the sixth line of the third stanza (ending, "... has lured are far away now") should read, "...has lured her far away now".

Third, the second line of the fourth stanza should probably begin, "But that was ere she heard..." rather than "But that was e'er she heard".

And fourth, the seventh line of the fourth stanza seems to have a superfluous "is" ("Farewell, my castle is in the air! Phantasmal mansions, fade ye!"), whose elimination would make the verse scan ("Farewell, my castle in the air! Phantasmal mansions, fade ye!").

As for the G&S references, the maravedi one comes from "The Gondoliers", while the Faerie ones ("I Met a Lady in the Woods") are of course from "Iolanthe".

Thank you for the pleasure you have brought your readers with this site.

Randle Wilson

Trade Commissioner in Residence /

Délégué commercial en résidence

École de gestion Telfer School of Management

R Crellin said...

I think there's a typo in the line "my castle is in the air" - should be
"my castles in the air"


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