The Mikado/Act I/Part II

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The song A Wand'ring Minstrel I was written by W. S. Gilbert for Gilbert and Sullivan's 1885 comic opera, The Mikado. It is the second song in Act I. A Wand'ring Minstrel I is sung by the romantic lead tenor, Nanki-Poo, when asked who he was by the Japanese nobles. It is sung in the courtyard of Ko-Ko (the Lord High Executioner of Titipu)'s palace in Titipu, Japan.


A wandering minstrel I—
A thing of shreds and patches,
Of ballads, songs and snatches,
And dreamy lullaby!
And dreamy lullaby!

My catalogue is long,
Through every passion ranging,
And to your humours changing
I tune my supple song!
I tune my supple song!

Are you in sentimental mood?
I'll sigh with you,
Oh, sorrow!
On maiden's coldness do you brood?
I'll do so, too—
Oh, sorrow, sorrow!
I'll charm your willing ears
With songs of lovers' fears,
While sympathetic tears
My cheeks bedew!—
Oh, sorrow, sorrow!

But if patriotic sentiment is wanted,
I've patriotic ballads cut and dried;
For where'er our country's banner may be planted,
All other local banners are defied!

Our warriors, in serried ranks assembled,
Never quail—or they conceal it if they do—
And I shouldn't be surprised if nations trembled
Before the mighty troops, the troops of Titipu!

[CHORUS repeats: And I shouldn't...etc.]

And if you call for a song of the sea,
We'll heave the capstan round,
With a yeo heave ho, for the wind is free,
Her anchor's a-trip and her helm's a-lee,
Hurrah for the homeward bound!

To lay aloft in a howling breeze
May tickle a landsman's taste,
But the happiest hour a sailor sees
Is when he's down
At an inland town,
With his Nancy on his knees, yeo ho!
And his arm around her waist!

Then man the capstan—off we go,
As the fiddler swings us round,
With a yeoheave ho,
And a rumbelow,
Hurrah for the homeward bound!

A wandering minstrel I—
A thing of shreds and patches,
Of ballads, songs and snatches,
And dreamy lullaby, and dreamy lula lulaby, lulaby!

PISH-TUSH (Spoken) And what may be your business with Yum-Yum?

NANKI-POO (Spoken) I'll tell you. A year ago I was a member of the Titipu town band. It was my duty to take the cap round for contributions. While discharging this delicate office, I saw Yum-Yum. We loved each other at once, but she was betrothed to her guardian Ko-Ko, a cheap tailor, and I saw at once that my suit was hopeless. Overwhelmed with despair, I quitted the town. Judge of my delight when I heard, a month ago that Ko-Ko had been condemned to death for flirting! I hurried back at once, in hope of finding Yum-Yum at liberty to listen to my protestations.

PISH-TUSH (Spoken) It is true that Ko-Ko was condemned to death for flirting, but he was reprieved at the last moment, and raised to the exalted rank of Lord High Executioner under the following remarkable circumstances: