Daily Express, Wednesday, October 14, 1903

Poem 13

(Attribution uncertain)



In a parlour dimly lighted
Sat young Strephon with his plighted, 1
Telling her the old, old story
That we all have told before.
“Dear,” he said, “when you’re my missis
There’ll be bread and cheese and kisses,
And”—when in the Parrot fluttered,
Screaming “Food will cost you more.”

At a little christening party,
Just as father, proud and hearty,
Had informed the smiling curate
That the kid, who loud did roar,
Should be called Augustus Topping, 2
In there came the Parrot hopping,
Crying, “Nothing of the sort, sir!
Call him ‘Food will cost you more.’ ”

When his wife met Jack, a joker,
Jack who is, I fear, a soaker, 3
Staggering homeward in the morning
Close upon the hour of four—
And inquired of him how dare he,
He replied, “It’s allsrighsh, 4 Mary,
For I’ve got to live on liquor
Now Your food will cost you more.”

Thus the squawking of the Parrot
Spoils the peace of hall and garret,
Nothing ever shuts the beak up
Of this awful feathered bore.
Caring naught for rhyme or reason,
Whether in or out of season,
He continues in his crying
That “Your food will cost you more.”



Strephon is a shepherd in Sir Philip Sidney’s prose work Arcadia, which was left unfinished at his death in 1586. The best-known Strephon occurs in Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic opera Iolanthe, in which he is the son, half human, half fairy, of Iolanthe.


In J. M. Barrie’s play “Little Mary” (see poem 06), one of the characters, the local physician, is a Doctor Topping.


The Oxford English Dictionary defines a “soaker” as “an immoderate drinker; a drunkard”.


A clumsy rendering of a drunken “all right”.