The Sunday Poem... Anthony Cronin's personal anthology
William Schwenk Gilbert was the writer and Arthur Sullivan the composer of what became identified as the Savoy Operas, a series that included such favourites of the comic opera as HMS Pinafore and The Mikado.
Both were already well-known, Gilbert as a playwright and Sullivan as a serious classical composer, when their partnership began.
They quarrelled often, sometimes quite bitterly. Sullivan thought the operettas were beneath him as a serious composer and Rossini's friend and collaborator. He also had politics while Gilbert had none, and Sullivan's was the bitterer nature. When they broke up Gilbert went on writing plays. In the 1870s the English theatre was at a low ebb of creativity and he was a considerable figure in it. He died heroically - of a heart attack while trying to rescue a young woman who had thrown herself into a lake. Nightmare is from the operetta Iolanthe.
When you're lying awake with a dismal headache, and repose
is taboo'd by anxiety
For your brain is on fire - the bedclothes conspire of usual
slumber to plunder you:
First your counterpane goes, and uncovers your toes, and your
sheet slips demurely from under you;
Then the blanketing tickles - you feel like mixed pickles - so
terribly sharp is the pricking,
And you're hot, and you're cross, and you tumble and toss till
there's nothing twixt you and the ticking.
Then the bedclothes all creep to the ground in a heap, and you
pick 'em all up in a tangle;
Next your pillow resigns and politely declines to remain at its
Well, you get some repose in the form of a doze, with hot eyeballs and head ever aching,
But your slumbering teems with such horrible dreams that
you'd very much better be waking...
You're a regular wreck, with a crick in your neck, and no wonder
you snore, for your head's on the floor,
And your flesh is a-creep for your left leg's asleep,
And you've cramp in your toes, and a fly on your nose...
But the darkness has passed, and it's daylight at last,
And the night has been long - ditto ditto my song - and
Thank goodness they're both of them over.
Sunday Indo Living