Nightmare Song from Gilbert & Sullivan’s Iolanthe ǀ English National Opera

Nightmare Song from Gilbert & Sullivan’s Iolanthe ǀ English National Opera


Love, unrequited, robs me of my rest: Love, hopeless love, my ardent soul encumbers: Love, nightmare-like, lies heavy on my chest, And weaves itself into my midnight slumbers! When you’re lying awake with a dismal
headache, and repose is taboo’d by anxiety, I conceive you may use any language you
choose to indulge in, without impropriety; 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 usual angle! Well, you get some repose in the form of a doze,
with hot eye-balls and head ever aching. But your slumbering teems with such horrible
dreams that you’d very much better be waking; For you dream you are crossing the Channel,
and tossing about in a steamer from Harwich – Which is something between a large bathing
machine and a very small second-class carriage – And you’re giving a treat (penny ice and
cold meat) to a party of friends and relations – They’re a ravenous horde – and they all came on board
at Sloane Square and South Kensington Stations. And bound on that journey you find your attorney
(who started that morning from Devon); He’s a bit undersized, and you don’t feel
surprised when he tells you “I’m only eleven”. Well, you’re driving like mad with this singular
lad (by the by, the ship’s now a four-wheeler), And you’re playing round games, and he calls you bad
names when you tell him that “ties pay the dealer”; But this you can’t stand, so you throw up your
hand, and you find you’re as cold as an icicle, In your shirt and your socks (the black silk with
gold clocks), crossing Salisbury Plain on a bicycle: And he and the crew are on bicycles too –
which they’ve somehow or other invested in – And he’s telling the tars all the particulars
of a company he’s interested in – It’s a scheme of devices, to get at low prices
all goods from cough mixtures to cables (Which tickled the sailors), by treating
retailers as though they were all vegetables – You get a good spadesman to plant a small
tradesman (first take off his boots with a boot-tree), And his legs will take root, and his fingers will shoot,
and they’ll blossom and bud like a fruit-tree – From the greengrocer tree you get grapes and
green pea, cauliflower, pineapple, and cranberries, While the pastrycook plant cherry brandy will
grant, apple puffs, and three corners, and Banburys – The shares are a penny, and ever so many
are taken by Rothschild and Baring, And just as a few are allotted to you,
you awake with a shudder despairing – You’re a regular wreck, with a crick in your neck, and no
wonder you snore, for your head’s on the floor and you’ve needles and pins from your soles to your shins,
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,
and some fluff in your lung, and a feverish tongue, And a thirst that’s intense, and a general sense
that you haven’t been sleeping in clover; 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!

8 thoughts on “Nightmare Song from Gilbert & Sullivan’s Iolanthe ǀ English National Opera”

  • Perhaps someone in the cybersphere could come up with a parody of this patter- with a sleep less Trumpius, perpetually awake and angry and all atweet at all hrs.of the night…and thank goodness this nightmare shall be ooooover…

  • michael Smith says:

    Wish they would show the full opera in the cinema . It was very enjoyable and I would like to see it again

  • When you're lying awake with a dismal headache, and repose is taboo'd by anxiety,
    I conceive you may use any language you choose to indulge in, without impropriety;
    For your brain is on fire and the bedclothes conspire of your 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 usual angle!
    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;

    For you dream you are crossing the Channel, and tossing about in a steamer from Harwich,
    Which is something between a large bathing machine and a very small second-class carriage;
    And you're giving a treat (penny ice and cold meat) to a party of friends and relations,
    They're a ravenous horde, and they all came on board at Sloane Square and South Kensington Stations.
    And bound on that journey you find your attorney (who started that morning from Devon);
    He's a bit undersized, and you don't feel surprised when he tells you he's only eleven.
    Well, you're driving like mad with this singular lad (by the by, the ship's now a four-wheeler),
    And you're playing round games, and he calls you bad names when you tell him that "ties pay the dealer";
    But this you can't stand, so you throw up your hand, and you find you're as cold as an icicle,
    In your shirt and your socks (the black silk with gold clocks), crossing Salisbury Plain on a bicycle:
    And he and the crew are on bicycles too, which they've somehow or other invested in,
    And he's telling the tars all the particulars of a company he's interested in,
    It's a scheme of devices, to get at low prices all goods from cough mixtures to cables
    (Which tickled the sailors), by treating retailers as though they were all vegetables:
    You get a good spadesman to plant a small tradesman (first take off his boots with a boot-tree),
    And his legs will take root, and his fingers will shoot, and they'll blossom and bud like a fruit-tree,
    From the greengrocer tree you get grapes and green pea, cauliflower, pineapple, and cranberries,
    While the pastrycook plant cherry brandy will grant, apple puffs, and three corners, and Banburys,
    The shares are a penny, and ever so many are taken by Rothschild and Baring,
    And just as a few are allotted to you, you awake with a shudder despairing…

    You're a regular wreck, with a crick in your neck, and no wonder you snore, for your head's on the floor,
    and you've needles and pins from your soles to your shins, 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, and some fluff in your lung, and a feverish tongue,
    and a thirst that's intense, and a general sense that you haven't been sleeping in clover;

    But the darkness has passed, and it's daylight at last, and the night has been long
    ditto my song
    and thank goodness they're both of them over!

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