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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 10, No. 6. May 28, 1947

Grand Old Boy

Grand Old Boy

There was once a man called G.B.S.
Who suffered from a constitutional inability to say yes;
Except, of course, when everybody else said no.
He had a habit of putting everything upside down,
So that intelligent people thought him a clown;
But the unintelligent, who were more numerous,
Didn't even find him humorous
And only laughed themselves delirious
When he was deadly serious.

The poor bought his books because they were expensive
And the rich because they were fashionable;
But they took good care not to find out
What he was writing about
In case they should suddenly discover
A red bull inside the pale green cover.
Both had a feeling that he was mocking them
Which was true; but even when he was shocking them
There was always a Mephistophelian twinkle in his eye
Which gave the truth the, lie.

When he was young he did quite frequently frequent
The British Museum to read Wagner and Karl Marx,
And even performed in Hyde and other Parks;
But always rode away on the same bicycle on which he went,
Even if it was in the opposite direction.
He had considerable affection
For Ibsen, but didn't think Shakespeare any great shakes;
In fact he teas sure that Shaw could contribute more
To the Fabian Utopia
In which spectacles would be provided
For anyone suffering from reactionary myopia.

As a critic he had a fine baritone
Which led people in Ayot St. Lawrence up the garden path
Whenever he sang Tannhauser in his bath;
As a dramatist he was a polished politician;
And as a platform speaker an accomplished actor
Who never neglected the human factor Or failed to note
That in the long run rudeness always wins a vote.
An anti-Imperialist, he out-Gandhied Gandhi as a dietician,
And at dinner parties was usually seen
Parting his whiskers to take in something green,
Like a sprig of parsley or a lettuce leaf;
But he took care never to eat shamrock, since after all
That would have made him a species of cannibal.

A confirmed misogynist, he loved actresses,
And as a materialist exerted a peculiar fascination
Over the women of his generation
By declaring that the only satisfactory love was platonic;
And even Ellen Terry did not think it ironic
That his only deception was that he refused to deceive her.
In and out of season
He was unreasonable only in his appeal to reason,
And us an agnostic did not think it odd
That the Devil's Disciple should spend his life
Looking for God.

An anti-alcoholic, he drank his fruit-juice neat,
But refused to be pedestrian even on his feet;
Believing all men equal, he proved himself superior,
And failed because of his success.
Only now do we, acknowledging ourselves inferior,
Discover to our own immeasurable distress
The love, behind the mask of wickedness;
And note, to his and our [unclear: surpr].
The tears behind the gay old eyes.

Anton Vogt.