Why You’ll (Maybe) Hear G & S at My House

I have an itunes recording of “When the Foeman Bares His Steel” from Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance on my computer. I will set the controls to repeat it as a loop. When I’m alone (and only then) I will turn the volume up and

—-GO!—–

I clean house to it. I love that piece because, musically, it is the internal dialog that all of us go through when we face something difficult.

There are three main groups singing: the policemen and their sergeant (who’ve been tasked with going after pirates), the girls (daughters of the major general) and the major general.

The Police: “When the foeman bares his steel, we uncomfortable feel. . .”

When facing anything scary, we’re uncomfortable.

“…we find the wisest thing is to slap our chests and sing tar-an-tara!”

We do what we we have to, to get ourselves psyched to do whatever it is.

“…when your heart is in your boots, there’s nothing brings it ’round like the trumpet’s martial sound, like the trumpet’s marital sound. . . tarantara, tarantara, tarantara.”

We play inspirational music, read things, go to places, whatever works, to goad ourselves forward, right?

The girls: “Go, ye heroes, go to glory,though you die in combat gory, ye shall live in song and story. Go to immortality!”

Don’t we all tell ourselves we’re doomed to fail? But if nothing else, someone might just notice how hard we tried?

The sergeant: “Though to us it’s evident, these intentions are well meant, such expressions don’t appear, calculated men to cheer. But it’s very evident these intentions are well meant.”

Our internal reasoning.

The girls: “Go to glory and the grave! For your foes are fierce and ruthless, false, unmerciful, and truthless; young and tender, old and toothless,all in vain their mercy crave.”

You’re going to fail. You can’t do this. How many times have we told ourselves that? (Too many to count, if you’re me.)

policeman pirates of penzance

Lastly, there is the internal dialog steeling yourself to actually DO the thing:

General: “Away, away!

Police: “Yes, yes, we go!”

General: These pirates slay!”

Police: “Tarantara!”

The General: “Then do not stay.”

Police: “Tarantara!”

General: “Then why this delay?”

Police: “All right we go.”

Girls: “Yes, forward on the foe.”

Police: “Yes, forward on the foe. ”

General: “Yes, but you don’t go!”

Police: “Yes, forward on the foe.”

Girls: “At last they go.”

Police: “We go, we go.”

Girls: “At last they go, at last they go!”

Police: “We go. We go.”

Girls: “At last they really, really go!

Police: “We go, we go, we go!”

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