My boy, the game that’s big and
The game that stands all games above,
And towers to such a glorious height,
Deserves the summit of your love!
Is this a time for dapper spats,
When foes arrive to test our worth?
Beg pardon of your gloves and bats,
And play the kingliest game on earth!
Let those who will believe the Gods
On high Olympus do not travel
Along the lane that Progress plods,
The tricks of mortals to unravel:
Let them believe who will they shun
The average of C.B. Fry,
Or never from their lilied park
A little nearer Clifton run
To watch with joy the crimson lark
By Jessop bullied to the sky.
They love the Game. So warm they
Not seldom rise imperial quarrels;
And not so many moons ago
Jove boxed with zeal Apollo’s laurels.
The question ran, Was Arthur Mold
Unfairly stigmatised by muffs,
Or did he play a dubious prank?
Venus herself began to scold,
And Gods by dozens on a bank
Profanely took to fisticuffs!
When on the level mead of Hove
With bowlers neatly juggles, Jove
Of clapping palms is never stingy.
Ambrosia stands neglected; wine
To crack the skull of Hector spills
While Lockwood cudgels brawn and brain;
And when the Prince leaves ninety-nine,
The cheers go valleywards like rain,
And hip-hurrah among the hills!
Prone on the lawn in merry mobs,
They note the polished art of Trumper,
The Surrey Lobster bowling lobs,
The anxious wriggles of the Stumper.
’Tis not (believe me) theirs to sneer
At what the modern mortal loves,
But theirs to copy noble sport;
And radiant hawkers every year
Do splendid trade in bats and gloves
With Jupiter and all his Court!
Sixty years since the game begun, Sir,
Sixty years since I took the crease!
Sixty years in the rain an’ sun, Sir,
Death’s been tryin’ to end my lease.
Oh, but he’s sent me down some corkers,
Given me lots of nasty jobs;
Mixed length-balls with his dazzlin’ Yorkers,
Kickers an’ shooters, grubs an’ lobs!
Here I’ve stood, an’ I’ve
met him smilin’,
Takin’ all of his nasty bumps;
Grantin’ at times his luck was rilin’
When reg’lar fizzers tickled the stumps.
Playin’ him straight an’ storin’ breath, Sir,
Closely watchin’ his artful wrist,
I’ve had a rare old tussle with Death, Sir,
Slammin’ the loose ‘uns, smotherin’ twist!