If wicked worm bore thee away
Unto his forlorn island lair,
I’d search the world until the day
My telescope should find thee there.
I’d sail out to that sulph’rous place,
Borne on a merry-tempered breeze
And while the dragon slept a space,
I’d steal my girl with thievish ease.
And if he rage on being reft
Of thee, the fairest maid who breathes,
And he repay my cunning theft,
Smashing our ship out on the seas,
I’d take my needle and my thread
And stitch the ship up plank by plank
And with my musket shoot him dead,
And sing a love song as he sank.
How, you ask, can I now prove
That all my boasting claims be true?
That I’d perform these feats of love
In counterfactuals, for you?
See how upon this stormy night
Up to the corner store I speed,
So thou mayst rest in warmth and light
Till I bring back the thing we need.
Look and see how now I toil,
Braving the kitchen fires for thee;
I put the kettle on to boil
And bring thee out a cup of tea!
Illustration by Arthur Rackham