Gilbert and Sullivan

When you’re lying awake with a dismal headache

LYRIC

(Recitative)
Love, unrequited, robs me of my rest:
Love, hopeless love, my ardent soul encumbers:
Love, nightmare-like, lies heavy on my chest
And weaves itself into my midnight slumbers!

(Song)
When you're lying awake
With a dismal headache
And repose is taboo'd by anxiety
I conceive you may use
Any language you choose
To indulge in, without impropriety;
For your brain is on fire
The bedclothes conspire
Of usual slumber to plunder you:
First your counterpane goes
And uncovers your toes
And your sheet slips demurely from under you;
Then the blanketing tickles
You feel like mixed pickles
So terribly sharp is the pricking
And you're hot, and you're cross
And you tumble and toss
Till there's nothing ‘twixt you and the ticking
Then the bedclothes all creep
To the ground in a heap
And you pick 'em all up in a tangle;
Next your pillow resigns
And politely declines
To remain at its usual angle!

Well, you get some repose
In the form of a doze
With hot eyeballs and head ever aching
But your slumbering teems
With such horrible dreams
That you'd very much better be waking;
For you dream you are crossing
The Channel, and tossing
About in a steamer from Harwich
Which is something between
A large bathing machine
And a very small second-class carriage
And you're giving a treat
(Penny ice and cold meat)
To a party of friends and relations
They're a ravenous horde
And they all came on board
At Sloane Square and South Kensington Stations
And bound on that journey
You find your attorney
(Who started that morning from Devon);
He's a bit undersized
And you don't feel surprised
When he tells you he's only eleven

Well, you're driving like mad
With this singular lad
(By the by, the ship's now a four-wheeler)
And you're playing round games
And he calls you bad names
When you tell him that "ties pay the dealer";
But this you can't stand
So you throw up your hand
And you find you're as cold as an icicle
In your shirt and your socks
(The black silk with gold clocks)
Crossing Salisbury Plain on a bicycle:
And he and the crew
Are on bicycles too
Which they've somehow or other invested in
And he's telling the tars
All the particulars
Of a company he's interested in
It's a scheme of devices
To get at low prices
All goods from cough mixtures to cables
(Which tickled the sailors)
By treating retailers
As though they were all vegetables

You get a good spadesman
To plant a small tradesman
(First take off his boots with a boot-tree)
And his legs will take root
And his fingers will shoot
And they'll blossom and bud like a fruit-tree
From the greengrocer tree
You get grapes and green pea
Cauliflower, pineapple, and cranberries
While the pastry-cook plant
Cherry brandy will grant
Apple puffs, and three corners, and Banburys

The shares are a penny
And ever so many
Are taken by Rothschild and Baring
And just as a few
Are allotted to you
You awake with a shudder despairing

You're a regular wreck
With a crick in your neck
And no wonder you snore
For your head's on the floor
And you've needles and pins
From your soles to your shins
And your flesh is a-creep
For your left leg's asleep
And you've cramp in your toes
And a fly on your nose
And some fluff in your lung
And a feverish tongue
And a thirst that's intense
And a general sense
That you haven't been sleeping in clover;
But the darkness has passed
And it's daylight at last
And the night has been long
Ditto, ditto my song
And thank goodness they're both of them over!

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About "When you’re lying awake with a dismal headache"

This patter song was written for the 1882 operetta Iolanthe, in which the Lord Chancellor describes in vivid terms the insomnia that he’s suffering and the dreams that come to him in sleep.

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