Faithless Nelly Gray by Thomas Hood

[A pathetic ballad]

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!

Now, as they bore him off the field,
Said he, “Let others shoot,
For here I leave my second leg,
And the Forty-second Foot!”

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 up to pay his devours,
When he 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, Nelly Gray! O, Nelly Gray!
For all your jeering speeches,
At duty’s call I left my legs,
In Badajos’s BREACHES!”

“Why then,” said she, “you’ve lost the feet
Of legs in war’s alarms,
And now you can not wear your shoes
Upon your feats of arms!”

“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!”

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Now, when he went from Nelly Gray,
His heart so heavy got,
And life was such a burden 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.

One end he tied around a beam,
And then removed his pegs,
And, as his legs were off–of course,
He soon was off his legs!

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!

A dozen men sat on his corpse,
To find out why he died–
And they buried Ben in four cross-roads,
With a STAKE in his inside!

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