And he says, "Thou rememberest, Thou string-tickling varlet
This evening I've ordered of thee
A song that is new - if it's written get on with it
Don't stand there gaping at me
Bear in mind, we are dead off the fly-spotted
Moth-eaten ballads of battle and love
And remember this means an advance to thy screw
Or the unconditional shove."

The minstrel banged the responsive chords
And he twiddled a lum-ti-tum air
And he sang of a night at a town by the sea
And the insects that fed on him there
Then he chanted of cheeses and spouses who jaw
Of tripe, twins and triplets and mothers-in-law
Of the feet of policemen, of landladies' brats
Of dog-bitten lovers, the manners of cats
Of brokers and pawn-shops, false teeth and dyed hair
Of tramps who hate work and of cabmen who swear
About the militia who booze such a lot
Of chaps 'up the pole' and blokes 'off their dot'
And the song concluded, the chords ever mingling
In one majestic strife
With a verselet concerning a lodger who bunked
And a landlord left minus a wife.

  At the close of the singing the castle resounded
With clapping and cries of 'encore'
Which didn't leave off till the minstrel had sung them
The 'lodger' verse over once more
And the lord was so pleased that he laughed till his feet ached
And tears trickled all down his cheek
And, true to his promise, he raised the bard's wages
From four-pence to five-pence per week
And they wrote down the words of that ballad on vellum
Today anybody can see 'em
By asking a man who has charge of such things
In a room at the British Museum
And though five hundred years have elapsed
Since the night the first comic lay made a sensation
Our music-hall singers still use the same themes
We are such a conservative nation.


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