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 !
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! O 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 !
"Before you had those timber toes,
Your love I did allow,
But then, you know, you stand upon
Another footing now. !"
"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 !"
Now when he went from Nelly Gray,
His heart so heavy got
And life was such a burthen grown,
It made him take a knot !
So round his melancholy neck
A rope he did entwine,
And, for his second time in life,
Enlisted in the Line !
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 !
from Faithless Nelly Gray - A Pathetic Ballad
by Thomas Hood (1799-1845)
I don't know what made me think of this poem.