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Produced by Michael Ciesielski, Cathy Smith and PG Distributed


by Norman Gale

Author of "Cricket Songs" "Barty's Star" "A Country Muse" And other



Not long ago you reminded me that once, when you were a boy and I was
a schoolmaster, I was angry with you because you pouted all through a
lesson in arithmetic. Let bygones be bygones, and accept as a proof of
my continuing friendship the dedication of this little volume, in
which there are no other sums than those of the Telegraph.

Most sincerely yours,


Here's to the lad with his useful Fifteen,
Here's to the Bowler that's thrifty,
Here's to the Bat who is Lord of the Green
With his frequent and thundering Fifty!

For their courtesy in allowing him to reprint some of these songs the
Author thanks the Editor of _The Westminster Gazette_, Prince
Ranjitsinhji, Mr. James Bowden, the Editor of _The Country_, and the
Editor of _The Sun_.



_(A Song In and Out of Season.)_

Excuse me, Sweetheart, if I smear,
With wisdom learnt from ancient teachers,
Now winter time once more is here,
This grease upon your lengthy features!
Behaving thus, your loyal friend
No whit encourages deception:
Believe me, Fairest, in the end
This oil will better your complexion.
Fairest, believe!

Did you imagine in the bag
To sleep the sleep of Rip Van Winkle,
Removed from sunshine's golden flag
And duller daylight's smallest twinkle?
Well have you earned your rest; but yet,
Although disturbance seem uncivil,
Unless your cheeks and chin be wet
With oil, your beauteousness will shrivel.
Rarest, believe!

Absorb, that, when for our delight
The May unpacks its lovely blossom,
With beaming face, with shoulders bright
You leave the bag's congenial bosom.
Then shall the Lover and his Lass
Walk out toward the pitch together,
And, glorying in the shaven grass,
Tackle, with mutual faith, the leather.
Dearest, absorb!


If ever there was a Golden Game
To brace the nerves, to cure repining,
To put the Dumps to flight and shame,
It's Cricket when the sun is shining!
Gentlemen, toss the foolscap by,
Gentlemen, change from books to leather!
Breathe your fill of the breeze from the hill,
Thanking Bliss for the great blue weather.

If ever there was a bag could beat
The box possessed by Miss Pandora,
'Tis that in which there cuddle neat
The tools to shape the flying Fourer.
Gentlemen, watch the purple ball!
Gentlemen, keep your wits in tether!
Take your joy with the heart of a boy
Under the dome of the big blue weather.

If ever I feel my veins abound
With zealous blood more fit for Twenty,
'Tis when upon the shaven ground
Fair Fortune gives me runs in plenty.
Gentlemen all, while sinews last,
Bat ye, bowl ye, friends together!
Play the play till the end of your day,
Mellowest mates in the big blue weather!

But ever the ancient tale is told,
And History (the jade!) repeated:
By Time, who's never over-bowled,
At last we find ourselves defeated.
Gentlemen all, though stiff we be,
Youth comes along in finest feather,
Just as keen as we all have been
Out on the turf in the great blue weather!

There's ever the deathless solace left -
To gaze at younger heroes smiting,
Of neither grit nor hope bereft,
Up to the end for victory fighting.
Gentlemen all, we taste delight,
Banished now from the stream and heather,
Calm and cool on an old camp-stool,
Watching the game in the big blue weather!


If cursed by a son who declined to play cricket,
(Supposing him sound and sufficient in thews,)
I'd larrup him well with the third of a wicket,
Selecting safe parts of his body to bruise.
In his mind such an urchin King Solomon had
When he said, Spare the stump, and you bungle the lad!

For what in the world is the use of a creature
All flabbily bent on avoiding the Pitch?
Who wanders about, with a sob in each feature,
Devising a headache, inventing a stitch?
There surely would be a quick end to my joy
If possessed of that monster - the feminine boy! -

The feminine boy who declines upon croquet,
Or halma, or spillikins (horrible sport!),
Or any amusement that's female and pokey,
And flatly objects to behave as he ought!
I know him of old. He is lazy and fat,
Instead of this Thing, fit for punishment drastic,
Give, Fortune, a son who is nimble and keen;
A bright-hearted sample of human elastic,
As fast as an antelope, supple and clean;
Far other than he in whose dimples there lodge
Significant signs of inordinate stodge.

Ay, give me the lad who is eager and chubby,
A Stoddart in little, a hero in bud;
Who'd think it a positive crime to grow tubby,
And dreams half the night he's a Steel or a Studd!
There's the youth for my fancy, all youngsters above -
The boy for my handshake, the lad for my love!


I know that Bowler, dark and lean,
Who holds his tongue, and pegs away,
And never fails to come up keen,
However hard and straight I play.
Spinning and living, from his hand
The leather, full of venom, leaps;
How nicely are his changes planned,
And what a lovely length he keeps!

Because he pulls his brim so low,
However earnestly one tries
One never sees the darkling glow,
That must be nimble in his eyes.
The fellow's judgment never nods,
His watchful spirit never sleeps.
There was a clinking ball! Ye gods,
Why, what a splendid length he keeps!

At times he bowls an awkward ball
That in the queerest manner swerves,
And this delivery of them all
Takes most elastic from my nerves:
It comes, and all along my spine
A sense of desolation creeps;
Till now the mastery is mine,
But - what a killing length he keeps!

That nearly passed me! That again
Miraculously missed the bails!
Too good a sportsman to complain,
He never flags, he never stales.
Small wonder if his varied skill
So fine a harvest daily reaps,
For how he marries wit and will!
And what a deadly length he keeps!


_("Flannelled fools at the wicket")_

Come, poke the fire, pull round the screen,
And fill me up a glass of grog
Before I tell of matches seen
And heroes of the mighty slog!
While hussies play near mistletoe
The game of kiss-me-if-you-dare,
I'll dig for you in memory's snow,
And where my eager spade shall go
Uncover bliss for you to share,
My Boys!

As sloppiness our sport bereaves
Of what was once a glorious zest,
And female men are thick as thieves,
With croquet, ping-pong, and the rest,
Prophetic eyes discern the shame
Shall humble England in the dust;
And in their graves our sires shall flame
With scorn to know the Nation's game
Cat's-cradle; Cricket gone to rust,
My Lads

Ah, for a winged and wounding pen,
In vigour dipped, to pierce the age
When girls are athletes, not the men,
And toughness dwindles from the stage! -
When purblind poet cannot see
That in the games he wishes barred,
Eager, and hungry to be free
As when it triumphed on the sea,
The Viking spirit battles hard,
My Sons!

If you have need of flabbier times,
Colensos, Stormbergs, Spion Kops,
Tell cricketers to take to rhymes,
And smash at once the cross-bar props.
_When_ sportsmen, tied to sport, refuse
To offer lead the loyal breast,
To tramp for miles in bloody shoes,
To smirch their souls, to crack their thews,
_Then_ let the poet rail his best,
My Hearts!

Aye, if our social state be planned
Devoid of giant games of ball,
Macaulay's visitor will stand
The earlier on the crumbled wall.
Nerve, daring, sprightliness, and pluck
Improve by noble exercise;
The wish to soar above the ruck,
The power to laugh at dirty luck
And face defeat with sparkling eyes,
My Braves!

By George, there goes the supper-bell!
And yet your duffing Uncle Bob
Has never told you what befell
When all his team got out for blob.
So much for bad poetic gas
That gets my ancient dander up!
Well, to the banquet! What is crass
Shall deeply drown in radiant Bass
While we as Vikings greatly sup,
My Hearts!


I refuse to find attractions
In the ancient Roman native;
I am sick to death of fractions,
And of verbs that take the dative:
It is mine to be recorder
Of a boy's congested brain, Sir,
With the pitch in perfect order
And the weather like champagne, Sir!

I - the sport of conjugations -
I am cooped up as a lodger
Where I serve out mental rations
To a proudly backward dodger.
While the two of us are dreaming
Of the canvas and the creases,
Close we sit together, scheming
How to pull an ode to pieces.

Even now in London's gabble
Memory's magic tricks the senses!
Plain I hear the streamlet babble,
Smell the tar on country fences:

Down the road Miss Grey from Marlett
Skirts the fox-frequented thicket,
In her belt a rose of scarlet,
In her eyes the love of cricket.

There's my mother with her ponies
Underneath Sir Toby's beeches,
Pulling up to share with cronies
News of grapes and plums and peaches:
Many a gaffer stops to fumble
At his forelock as she passes,
While the children cease to tumble
Frocks and blouses in the grasses.

Though my body stays with duty
Here to work a sum or rider,
Mother's magnet and her beauty
Draw my soul to sit beside her!
Ah, what luck if I were able
There to play once more in flannels,
Free from all this littered table,
Virgil's farmyard, Ovid's annals!

There's a loop of leather handle
Peeping underneath the sofa!
Is tuition worth the candle
When the conscience turns a loafer?
'Tis the rich and backward Boarder
Proves indeed the Tutor's bane, Sir,
When the turf's in ripping order
And the weather like champagne, Sir!


"To throw your hands above your head
And wring your mouth in piteous wise
Is not a plan," the Captain said,
"With which I sympathise.
And with your eyes to ape a duck
That's dying in a thunderstorm,
Because you deprecate your luck,
Is not the best of form.

"The fact is, Johnson, I am tired
Of all this posing for a faint,
Because you think the stump required
Another coat of paint.
As greatly would you vex my soul,
And drag decorum from the Game,
If in the block your head you'd roll,
Or stand upon the same.

"This trick of striking attitudes,
Inelegant for men to see,
Will, to be candid, foster feuds
Between yourself and me.
On manners of the best this sport,
By right of glory, makes a call,
And he who will not as he ought
Should never play at all.

"Now Luck is lean, now Luck Is fat,
And wise men take her as she comes:
The Bowler may be sure the Bat
Will share the sugarplums.
So never wriggle, nor protest,
Nor eye the zenith in disgust,
But, Johnson, bowl your level best,
And recollect, what must be, must!"


_(Written for W.G. Grace's Fiftieth Anniversary.)_

When Arthur and his Table Round
Thought lusty thumps the best of sport, Sir,
And cups and cuffs, for all but muffs,
Were just the code the nobles taught, Sir,
Their jests were coarse, and swift their coursers,
Their throats were hoarse and strong as hawsers;
And they would shout a loud refrain
The while they pricked across a plain,
Observe this phrase just once again -
The while they pricked across a plain.

Then 'twas the sport of Arthur's Court
To hammer friendly helms with zeal, Sir,
Lo, sounding clear for all to hear,
The Tourney rang with lyres of steel, Sir!
These demigods of matchless story
For Love laid on, laid on for Glory!
Their horses flew like thunderbolts,
Or cut a brace of demi-voltes.
Observe this phrase. The mettled colts
Would cut a brace of demi-voltes.

When Arthur and his Table Round
Had lain in dust for many years, Sir,
Came cricket bats and beaver hats,
The stumps, the ball, the burst of cheers, Sir!
Thus horse-play broke on Time's rough breakers
And gentler games were hero-makers.
Men ceased to crave for olden times,
Whose daily deeds were modern crimes,
But guarded stumps, and wrote their rhymes,
And helped to keep the land from crimes.

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!

My boy, the game that's big and bright,
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 glow,
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
Elastic-sided Ranjitsinhji
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!

Still I know I'm as keen as ever
Tacklin' the stuff he likes to send,
Cuttin' an' drivin' his best endeavour
While pluck an' muscle an' sight befriend.
I'm slow, in course; an' at times a stitch, Sir,
Makes me muddle the stroke I planned;
But I'm not yet ready to leave the pitch, Sir,
For Lord knows what in the Better Land!

Some dirty day, when eyes are dimmer,
Old Death will have his chance to scoff;
For up his sleeve he's got a trimmer
Bound to come a yard from the off!
It'll do me down! But if he's a chap, Sir,
Able to tell a job well done,
No doubt he'll give his foe a clap, Sir,
Walkin' out of the crease an' sun.

'Tis more than forty years I've tasted
Sweet and bitter supplied by Luck,
Never thinkin' an hour was wasted,
Whether I blobbed or whether I stuck.
Long as I had some kind of wicket,
'Twas never the wrong 'un, fast or slow;
An' I thank my stars I took to Cricket
Seven-an'-fifty years ago!

The game's been missus an' kids to me, Sir -
Aye, an' a rare good girl she's been!
I met her first at my father's knee, Sir,
An' married her young on Richmond Green.
An' as she's proved so true a lover,
Never inclined to scratch or scold,
When the long day's fun at last is over,
I'll love her still in the churchyard cold!

I've never twisted my brain with thinkin'
The way life goes in the world above,
But lessons here there ain't no blinkin'
Make me guess that the Umpire's Love!
God knows I've muffed some easy chances
Of doing good, like a silly lout;
But because He's fairer nor any fancies
I'm not in a funk of hearin', "Out!"


Many a mate of splice and leather,
Out in the stiff autumnal weather,
There we stood by his grave together,
After his innings;
All on a day of misty yellow
Watching in grief a grim old fellow,
Death, who diddles both young and mellow,
Pocket his winnings.

Flew from his hand the matchless skimmer!
Breaking a yard, the destined trimmer,
Beating the bat and the eyes grown dimmer,
Shattered the wicket!
Slow to the dark Pavilion wending,
His head on his breast, with Mercy friending,
The batsman walked to his silent ending,
Finished with cricket.

Whether or not that gaunt Professor
Noting his man; that stark Assessor
Of faulty play in the bat's possessor
Clapped for his foeman,
We who had seen that figure splendid
Guarding the stumps so well defended
Wept and cheered when by craft was ended
Innings and yeoman!

Not long before the ball that beat him,
All ends up, went down to meet him,
Tie him up in a knot, defeat him
Once and for ever,
He told his mates that he wished, when hoary
Time put an end to his famous story,
To trudge with his old brown bag to Glory,
Separate never!

There on the clods the bag was lying!
There was the rope for the handle's tying!
How can you wonder we all were crying,
Utterly broken?
Scarred and shabby it went. We espied it
Deep where the grave so soon would hide it,
Safe on his heart, with his togs inside it -
Tenderest token!

There we stood by his grave together,
Out in the stiff autumnal weather,
Many a mate of splice and leather,
After his innings;
All on a day of misty yellow
Watching in pain a grabbing fellow,
Death, who diddles both young and mellow,
Pocket his winnings.


Dear Tom, I do not like your look,
Your brows are (see the poets) bent;
You're biting hard on Tedium's hook,
You're jaundiced, crumpled, footled, spent.
What's worse, so mischievous your state
You have no pluck to try and trick it.
Here! Cram this cap upon your pate
And come with me to Doctor Cricket!

Don't eye decanters on the shelf.
Your tongue's already thick with fur!
Up, heart! and be your own dear self
As when we chummed at Winchester.
Destroy these pasteboard dancing girls;
This theatre-bubble, come, Tom, prick it!
Love more the off and leg-break curls
Arranged for us by Doctor Cricket!

You feel worn out at twenty-two?
Your day's a thing of thirst and gloom?
Old chap, of course I'll see you through,
But - drop that rot about the tomb!
Let's overhaul your bag. A pair
Of noble bats to guard a wicket!
Out, Friend, to breathe the sunny air,
And wring the hand of Doctor Cricket!

Be healed; and shun the flabby gang
That tricked your taste with cards and drink,
When out of independence sprang
A silly downfall. Think, Tom, think!
While stupid lads debase their worth
In feather-headed Folly's thicket,
Get back your muscle and your mirth
Beneath the eye of Doctor Cricket!


'Tis sometimes Fortune's little joke
With vinegar to brim the cup;
And on the grass this fickle Lass
Makes pennies come the wrong side up.
But though a Head instead of Tail
Is sure to greet my anxious call,
'Tis better to have tossed,
And lost,
Than never to have tossed at all.

To do our best in spite of luck,
To stop or gallop for the drive,
To seek our fun in bronzing sun,
Shall cause both head and heart to thrive.
And though the penny's face I choose
That next the turf is bound to fall,
'Tis better to have tossed,
And lost,
Than never to have tossed at all.

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,
And lost,
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


Online LibraryNorman GaleMore Cricket Songs → online text (page 1 of 2)