TO A HENLEY MINSTREL.
Vanity Fair (UK), July 14, 1904
Black bawler of blithering ballads,
Swart (soi-disant) son of the States,
Why poison our lobsters and salads,
Turn the strawberry sour on our plates?
Why make heavenly Henley the target
Of the songs (save the mark!) that you shout?
Why on earth don’t you go down to Margate?
When we’re prone in a punt on the river
Or coiled in a cosy canoe,
The sweet summer stillness you shiver,
You cork-burning criminal, you!
If my bank-balance bulged to a billion,
Not one small, single sou would I give
For the songs which you steal from Pavilion
Dark dealer in drivelling ditties,
Devoid both of tune and of sense,
In which not a shadow of wit is,
Think well ere you plague me for pence:
I’m not one who sticks at a trifle,
I know neither pity nor fear,
And to Henley I’m taking my rifle
I have not been able to find a specific Swinburne poem which is being parodied here, but the elevated, alliterative language and the short final lines of stanzas are certainly characteristic.
It is apparent from the reference to “cork-burning” and “soi-disant (so-called) son of the States” that the author is annoyed by English entertainers in blackface, and is not talking about genuine African-American musicians.