Jerome Betts -- Ballad with Tricolour Refrain

'Stockings in Lovat and Bronze . . . Turn-Over Top Stockings
in Lovat and Bottle . . . wear up to 7 years without holes . . .'
- Magazine advertisement


If tailors laid out patterned hose
Old Henry's face would mottle:
‘I only care’, he'd roar, ‘for those
In lovat, bronze, or bottle!’

Such tones – all gundogs, grouse and gins,
No stops remotely glottal -
Ensured they clad both great gnarled shins
In lovat, bronze, or bottle.

When out and tramping hill and dale
With Softmouth Strawberry-Pottle
Most thorns were foiled, as if by mail
In lovat, bronze, or bottle.

At field trials, even marred by crusts
Of mud, like daub on wattle,
His legs caused gasps, and heaving busts,
In lovat, bronze, or bottle.

But, judging once, he drank, far more
Than fiction’s famed Fink-Nottle,
And cried, ‘Top marksh the Labrador
In lovat, bronsh, or bottle!’

Struck off for life, he grimly faced
Half-pay, and pipes half dottle,
Each calf still thriftily encased
In lovat, bronze, or bottle.

Impartial, age at last puts paid
To ape, and Aristotle,
Though not to items toughly made
In lovat, bronze, or bottle.

So now, six years beneath the stones
Since Time’s hand closed his throttle . . .
Good Lord! What’s that round Henry’s bones
In lovat, bronze, or bottle?