William Schwenck Gilbert ( )

The Bab Ballads. Peter the Wag

Policeman Peter forth I drag
   From his obscure retreat:
He was a merry genial wag,
   Who loved a mad conceit.
If he were asked the time of day,
   By country bumpkins green,
He not unfrequently would say,
   A quarter past thirteen.

If ever you by word of mouth
   Inquired of Mister Forth
The way to somewhere in the South,
   He always sent you North.
With little boys his beat along
   He loved to stop and play;
He loved to send old ladies wrong,
   And teach their feet to stray.

He would in frolic moments, when
   Such mischief bent upon,
Take Bishops up as betting men
   Bid Ministers move on.
Then all the worthy boys he knew
   He regularly licked,
And always collared people who
   Had had their pockets picked.

He was not naturally bad,
   Or viciously inclined,
But from his early youth he had
   A waggish turn of mind.
The Men of London grimly scowled
   With indignation wild;
The Men of London gruffly growled,
   But Peter calmly smiled.

Against this minion of the Crown
   The swelling murmurs grew
From Camberwell to Kentish Town
   From Rotherhithe to Kew.
Still humoured he his wagsome turn,
   And fed in various ways
The coward rage that dared to burn,
   But did not dare to blaze.

Still, Retribution has her day,
   Although her flight is slow:
One day that Crusher lost his way
   Near Poland Street, Soho.
The haughty boy, too proud to ask,
   To find his way resolved,
And in the tangle of his task
   Got more and more involved.

The Men of London, overjoyed,
   Came there to jeer their foe,
And flocking crowds completely cloyed
   The mazes of Soho.
The news on telegraphic wires
   Sped swiftly oer the lea,
Excursion trains from distant shires
   Brought myriads to see.

For weeks he trod his self-made beats
   Through Newport- Gerrard- Bear-
Greek- Rupert- Frith- Dean- Poland- Streets,
   And into Golden Square.
But all, alas! in vain, for when
   He tried to learn the way
Of little boys or grown-up men,
   They none of them would say.

Their eyes would flashtheir teeth would grind
   Their lips would tightly curl
Theyd say, Thy way thyself must find,
   Thou misdirecting churl!
And, similarly, also, when
   He tried a foreign friend;
Italians answered, Il balen
   The French, No comprehend.

The Russ would say with gleaming eye
   Sevastopol! and groan.
The Greek said, Τυπτω, τυπτομαι,
   Τυπτω, τυπτειν, τυπτων.
To wander thus for many a year
   That Crusher never ceased
The Men of London dropped a tear,
   Their anger was appeased.

At length exploring gangs were sent
   To find poor Forths remains
A handsome grant by Parliament
   Was voted for their pains.
To seek the poor policeman out
   Bold spirits volunteered,
And when they swore theyd solve the doubt,
   The Men of London cheered.

And in a yard, dark, dank, and drear,
   They found him, on the floor
It leads from Richmond Buildingsnear
   The Royalty stage-door.
With brandy cold and brandy hot
   They plied him, starved and wet,
And made him sergeant on the spot
   The Men of Londons pet!

William Schwenck Gilbert's other poems:
  1. The Bab Ballads. Thomas Winterbottom Hance
  2. The Bab Ballads. Joe Golightly; or, the First Lords Daughter
  3. The Bab Ballads. The Force of Argument
  4. The Bab Ballads. Thomson Green and Harriet Hale
  5. The Bab Ballads. The Three Kings of Chickeraboo

 . Poem to print (Print)

: 1156

To English version


. eng-poetry.ru@yandex.ru