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The "Bab" Ballads is a collection of light verse by W. S. Gilbert, and is illustrated with his own comic drawings. The Ballads contain both satire and nonsense, as well as a great deal of utter absurdity. They were read aloud at private dinner-parties, public banquets, and even in the House of Lords.

In writing the Ballads, Gilbert developed his signature "topsy-turvy" style, where the humour was derived by setting up a ridiculous premise and working out its logical consequences, however absurd. They also reveal Gilbert's cynical and satirical approach to humour. The collection became famous on its own, as well as being a source for plot elements, characters, and songs that would be recycled in the Gilbert and Sullivan operas.

Bab Ballads 013.png

OF all the ships upon the blue,
No ship contained a better crew
Than that of worthy Captain Reece,
Commanding of The Mantelpiece.

He was adored by all his men,
For worthy Captain Reece, R.N.,
Did all that lay within him to
Promote the comfort of his crew.

If ever they were dull or sad,
Their captain danced to them like mad,
Or told, to make the time pass by,
Droll legends of his infancy.

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