For though we field the whole day long
Hope’s spark refuses to expire;
A wily lob’s successful job
At once renews the slackening fire.
Be Spartan, then! Crave not to flirt
With Tennis and her female ball!
’Tis better to have tossed,
Than never to have tossed at all.
The Major, till the paper comes,
Is by a hundred fidgets shaken;
Upon the tablecloth he drums,
Condemns the toast, pooh-poohs the bacon:
But when at last the boy arrives,
Not his to scan the market prices;
Though liner sinks or palace burns,
The Major lives by rule, and turns
To cricket first, and then the crisis.
Though getting grey and rather stiff,
The Major loves a long day’s outing,
And gives a military sniff
When lads complain of lengthy scouting.
Each summer morn at break of day
From bed before the lark he tumbles,
And if the mercury be vile
There carries nearly half a mile
The Indian vigour of his grumbles.
When winter brings its snow and ice,
As well as divers pains and twinges,
The Major’s language gathers spice,
And oftentimes his temper singes.
On Christmas day he oils his bats,
And, on the crimson hearthrug scoring,
Through Fancy’s slips he cuts the ball,
Or lifts her over Fancy’s wall,
Till all the ghostly ring is roaring!
And when at length the day is near
For Death to bowl the Major’s wicket,
(The Major swears he has no fear
That Paradise is short of cricket!)
If in the time of pad and crease
His soul receives its last advices,
With final paper on his bed
I know the Major will be wed
To cricket first—and then the crisis!
CRICKET AND CUPID.
She understands the game no more
Than savages the sun’s eclipse;
For all she knows the bowler throws,
And Square-Leg stands among the Slips:
And when in somersaults a stump
Denotes a victim of the game,
Her lovely throat begets a lump,
Her cheeks with indignation flame.
She scarce can keep her seat, and longs
To cheer the fallen hero’s fate;
Her fingers clench upon the bench
As if it were the Trundler’s pate!
Because this rascal’s on the spot
Her passion fails to be concealed;
She asks me why the wretch is not
Immediately turned off the field.
But if the batsmen force the pace,
From me she quickly takes her cue;
Perceives the fun of stolen run,
The overthrow that makes it two.
And as the ball bombards the fence,
Or rattles on the Scorers’ hut,
She claps with me the Drive immense,
And prettily applauds the Cut.