A false note is really fun

From such a bird as you!
Lift up your proud little crest,

Open your musical beak;
Other birds have to do their best,

You need only to speak !”

The nightingale shyly took

Her head from under her wing, And, giving the dove a look,

Straightway began to sing. There was never a bird could pass;

The night was divinely calm; And the people stood on the grass

To hear that wonderful psalm.

The nightingale did not care,

She sang only to the skies; Her song ascended there,

And there she fixed her eyes.
The people that stood below

She knew but little about;
And this tale has a moral, I know,
If you'll try and find it out.


This is a poem of puns. A pun is the lowest order of wit, but some of these are exceedingly clever. Every stanza has a play on the double meaning of words or phrases, and these double meanings should be sought out. For example, the last word in the tenth stanza might be spelled either “Nell” or “Knell,” for the author intends it to have both of these meanings. In the twelfth stanza, the last word means both the infantry and the rope with which the soldier is about to hang himself. The reader should study' out all of these double meanings or puns—there are more than a dozen of them—for the poem is simply an exercise in turning words to eccentric uses. A list of these verbal twists might be made. There is nothing else of value in the piece. “Forty-second Foot,” in stanza two, means the Forty-second Company of Infantry.



Ben Battle was a soldier bold,

And used to war’s alarms;
But a cannon ball took off his legs,

So he laid down his arms!

2 Now, as they bore him off the field,

Said he, “Let others shoot, For here I leave my second leg,

And the Forty-second Foot !"

The army surgeons made him limbs;

Said he, “They're only pegs; But there 's as wooden members quite,

As represent my legs!”

Now Ben, he loved a pretty maid,

Her name was Nelly Gray;
So he went to pay her his devours,

When he'd devoured his pay.

But when he called on Nelly Gray,

She made him quite a scoff;
And when she saw his wooden legs,

Began to take them off !

“O Nelly Gray! 0 Nelly Gray!

Is this your love so warm?
The love that loves a scarlet coat

Should be more uniform !"

Said she, "I loved a soldier once,

For he was blithe and brave; But I will never have a man

With both legs in the grave !

8 "Before you had these timber toes,

Your love I did allow, But then, you know, you stand upon

Another footing now !”

9 “O false and fickle Nelly Gray!

I know why you refuse: Though I've no feet-some other man

Is standing in my shoes !

"I wish I ne'er had seen your face;

But, now, a long farewell !
For you will be my death ;-alas!

You will not be my Nell!”.

11 Now when he went from Nelly Gray,

His heart so heavy got,
And life was such a burden grown,

It made him take a knot !

So round his melancholy neck

A rope he did entwine,
And for the second time in life

Enlisted in the Line !

One end he tied around a beam,

And then removed his pegs,
And, as his legs were off, of course

He soon was off his legs.

And there he hung till he was dead

As any nail in town;
For, though distress had cut him up,
It could not cut him down!

-Thomas Flood.


Sir John Moore, commanding the British forces in Spain in the war with Napoleon, was killed at the battle of Corunna, Spain, January 16, 1809. The battle occurred at the end of a long and hard retreat, and although the English had the advantage, they embarked at Corunna after the battle and returned to England.

« ElőzőTovább »