How, by not singing in Chapel, Nerissa came to an Untimely End

I never did quite discover Miss Pronter’s exact connection with a once-well-known – not to say notorious – Girls’ Boarding School in Berkshire, but she claimed that the then-Chaplain, having delivered this, left the script in Chapel, where she gathered it up…

Thomas Cooper Gotch – Alleluia
Thomas Cooper Gotch, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Why sweet Nerissa and the Choir
Were strangers, since you now enquire,
I’ll tell the sad tale happily
And as a kind of Homily –

Not that she could not sing in tune,
Or howled as dogs do at full moon,
Or could not read the tune and words
Or sounded  rather more like birds
Of prey, than songbirds- she’d NOT SING! –
(Or join in Prayers, or anything).

Her mouth remained quite firmly shut:
Would that some Politicians’ wives’ would! But
Your kind indulgence I must pray:
Far from my sombre tale I stray.

The Chaplain’s glower fell on her face
Unmoved; nor could th’ Organist unlace
Th’invisible strings that held her tongue.
Now stubbornness (in one so young

Though blessed by Nature handsomely
Repels, despite how winsomely
She pouts and puckers, purses, primps:
Silent as Oyster – or as Shrimps.

Upon a day, a charming Prince
From not so far away came, since
He’d heard they’d ‘do’ an Opera –
Not Rigoletto Nor Lucia

Di Lammermoor or Die Walküre
Nor ‘Cav’, nor ‘Pag’, but the demurer
‘Dido & Aeneas’ by Purcell –
At which girls always do excel.

While pius Laura sang Aeneas
Fair Isobel was sad, yet fierce’
As dying Dido.
…and the Prince?

He did not flinch, or baulk, or wince
But melted visibly, his Heart
Drawn through his ears by Music’a Art.

Nerissa could but watch from
The dark’ning of her setting star;
For her, the Prince had not a glance:
It seared right through her, like a lance.
She sank straightway into Decline
And breathed her last at five past nine

Her Mother, told by the School Nurse,
Said, ‘S’pose it could’ve bin far worse!
She could have ended up a Kylie,
A Britney, or (she added slyly)

A Geri, Charlotte, or Mariah!
Which would’ve made me a pariah
At Henley, Ascot, Goodwood…’ Thus
They buried her with little fuss.

Above her plot an Angel stands
A stringless harp held in his hands;
As though to say, ‘Sing Hymns: Nerissa
Would not: and we do not miss her!


© Jethro 2024