While Arthur and his Table Round
In dreams were jousting once again, Sir,
The wit of man conceived a plan
To marry willow-wood and cane, Sir.
Thereat the Stung became the Stinger;
Thereat arrived the Century-Bringer!
Mere muscle yielded to the wrist
Poised lightly over clenching fist.
Observe the phrase. I here insist
Mere muscle yielded to the wrist.
The knights of Arthur’s Table True
Wore helmets, gorgets, plumes, and greaves, Sir;
While Tourneys stayed, big sport was played
Without the joy of turned-up sleeves, Sir!
But Cricket showed in armoured showing
Without these noble players knowing,
For when at Beauty’s door they tapped
They oft were at the wicket snapped.
Be sure of this. With rage was mapped
Each face when at the wicket snapped.
Remembering the Table Round,
Cricket at last begot a King, Sir.
One day was born the Bowler’s Thorn,
The Bat of Bats for Rhyme to sing, Sir.
As for the Lady Ball, he swept her
From pole to pole with willow sceptre!
Old Mother England was the place,
The pitch the throne, the monarch Grace!
Off with your hats! Your brims abase
To greet his Royal Highness, Grace!
Ah, for some kingly match in Town,
To give the scene its fitting ode, Sir!
Could Pindar fire the athletic lyre,
A truant from his bright abode, Sir,
How would he chant the Chief heroic,
The trundler’s hope become zeroic,
The drives from liberal shoulders poured,
The changing history of the Board!
Long may the champion’s pith be scored
In figures leaping on the Board!
Strong in the arms as Hercules,
For club, a bat within his hand, Sir,
Behold him there, the foe’s despair,
Persuade the bowling to the stand, Sir!
What if some wrinkles now take leases
Upon his brow? He’s used to creases!
And, young in muscle, still can laugh
At fifty on Time’s Telegraph.
This Toast, good comrades, let us quaff—
Three figures on his Telegraph!
My boy, bethink you ere you fling
Upon my heart a cloud of gloom.
Pause, pause a moment ere you bring
Your father to an early tomb
By playing Golf! For if you seek
To gravel your astounded sire,
Desert the wicket for the cleek,
Prefer the bagpipes to the lyre!
My boy, along your veins is poured
Heroic blood full fit to boast;
For annals of the scoring-board
Have made our name a cricket Toast.
If now in pride or pique you choose
To make this scandalous default,
How many bygone Cricket Blues
Will issue, raging, from their vault!