Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IX. Tragedy: Humor
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IX. Tragedy: Humor.  1904.
Humorous Poems: II. Miscellaneous
Captain Reece
William Schwenck Gilbert (1836–1911)
OF 1 all the ships upon the blue,
No ship contained a better crew
Than that of worthy Captain Reece,
Commanding of The Mantelpiece.
He was adored by all his men,        5
For worthy Captain Reece, R. N.,
Did all that lay within him to
Promote the comfort of his crew.
If ever they were dull or sad,
Their captain danced to them like mad,        10
Or told, to make the time pass by,
Droll legends of his infancy.
A feather-bed had every man,
Warm slippers and hot-water can,
Brown Windsor from the captain’s store,        15
A valet, too, to every four.
Did they with thirst in summer burn,
Lo, seltzogenes at every turn,
And on all very sultry days
Cream ices handed round on trays.        20
Then currant wine and ginger pops
Stood handily on all the “tops:”
And, also, with amusement rife,
A “Zoetrope, or Wheel of Life.”
New volumes came across the sea        25
From Mister Mudie’s libraree;
The Times and Saturday Review
Beguiled the leisure of the crew.
Kind-hearted Captain Reece, R. N.,
Was quite devoted to his men;        30
In point of fact, good Captain Reece
Beatified The Mantelpiece.
One summer eve, at half past ten,
He said (addressing all his men),
“Come, tell me, please, what I can do,        35
To please and gratify my crew.
“By any reasonable plan
I ’ll make you happy if I can;
My own convenience count as nil;
It is my duty, and I will.”        40
Then up and answered William Lee
(The kind captain’s coxswain he,
A nervous, shy, low-spoken man);
He cleared his throat and thus began:
“You have a daughter, Captain Reece,        45
Ten female cousins and a niece,
A ma, if what I ’m told is true,
Six sisters, and an aunt or two.
“Now, somehow, sir, it seems to me,
More friendly-like we all should be,        50
If you united of ’em to
Unmarried members of the crew.
“If you ’d ameliorate our life,
Let each select from them a wife;
And as for nervous me, old pal,        55
Give me your own enchanting gal!”
Good Captain Reece, that worthy man,
Debated on his coxswain’s plan:
“I quite agree,” he said, “O Bill;
It is my duty, and I will.        60
“My daughter, that enchanting gurl,
Has just been promised to an earl,
And all my other familee
To peers of various degree.
“But what are dukes and viscounts to        65
The happiness of all my crew?
The word I gave you I ’ll fulfil;
It is my duty, and I will.
“As you desire it shall befall,
I ’ll settle thousands on you all,        70
And I shall be, despite my hoard,
The only bachelor on board.”
The boatswain of The Mantelpiece,
He blushed and spoke to Captain Reece:
“I beg your honor’s leave,” he said,        75
“If you would wish to go and wed,
“I have a widowed mother who
Would be the very thing for you—
She long has loved you from afar,
She washes for you, Captain R.”        80
The captain saw the dame that day—
Addressed her in his playful way—
“And did it want a wedding-ring?
It was a tempting ickle sing!
“Well, well, the chaplain I will seek,        85
We ’ll all be married this day week
At yonder church upon the hill;
It is my duty, and I will!”
The sisters, cousins, aunts, and niece,
And widowed ma of Captain Reece,        90
Attended there as they were bid;
It was their duty, and they did.
Note 1. Containing the germs of Gilbert’s two famous comic operas,—“H. M. S. Pinafore,” with its amiable captain, cheerful crew, and the “sisters and the cousins and the aunts,” and “The Pirates of Penzance, or the Slave of Duty.” [back]

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