Arthur Sullivans Libretti in Englisch:



The Mikado

or: the Town of Titipu


By William S. Gilbert
Music by Sir Arthur Sullivan


Dramatis Personae:

NANKI-POO (his Son, disguised as a wandering minstrel, and in
love with Yum-Yum).
KO-KO (Lord High Executioner of Titipu).
POOH-BAH (Lord High Everything Else).
PISH-TISH (a Noble Lord).
Three Sisters – Wards of Ko-Ko:
KATISHA (an elderly Lady, in love with Nanki-Poo).
Chorus of School-girls, Nobles, Guards, and Coolies.


ACT I – Courtyard of Ko-Ko‘s Official Residence.
ACT II – Ko-Ko‘s Garden


First produced at the Savoy Theatre on March 14, 1885.




SCENE. – Courtyard of Ko-Ko‘s Palace in Titipu. Japanese nobles discovered standing and sitting in attitudes suggested by native drawings.



If you want to know who we are,
We are gentlemen of Japan:
On many a vase and jar –
On many a screen and fan,
We figure in lively paint:
Our attitude‘s queer and quaint –
You‘re wrong if you think it ain‘t, oh!


If you think we are worked by strings,
Like a Japanese marionette,
You don‘t understand these things:
It is simply Court etiquette.
Perhaps you suppose this throng
Can‘t keep it up all day long?
If that‘s your idea, you‘re wrong, oh!


Enter Nanki-Poo in great excitement. He carries a native guitar
on his back and a bundle of ballads in his hand.




Gentlemen, I pray you tell me
Where a gentle maiden dwelleth,
Named Yum-Yum, the ward of Ko-Ko?
In pity speak, oh speak I pray you!


A NOBLE. Why, who are you who ask this question?
NANK. Come gather round me, and I‘ll tell you.




A wandering minstrel I –
A thing of shreds and patches,
Of ballads, songs and snatches,
And dreamy lullaby!


My catalogue is long,
Through every passion ranging,
And to your humours changing
I tune my supple song!


Are you in sentimental mood?
I‘ll sigh with you,
Oh, sorrow, sorrow!
On maiden‘s coldness do you brood?
I‘ll do so, too –
Oh, sorrow, sorrow!
I‘ll charm your willing ears
With songs of lovers‘ fears,
While sympathetic tears
My cheeks bedew –
Oh, sorrow, sorrow!


But if patriotic sentiment is wanted,
I‘ve patriotic ballads cut and dried;
For where‘er our country‘s banner may be planted,
All other local banners are defied!
Our warriors, in serried ranks assembled,
Never quail – or they conceal it if they do –
And I shouldn‘t be surprised if nations trembled
Before the mighty troops of Titipu!


CHORUS. We shouldn‘t be surprised, etc.


NANK. And if you call for a song of the sea,
We‘ll heave the capstan round,
With a yeo heave ho, for the wind is free,
Her anchor‘s a-trip and her helm‘s a-lee,
Hurrah for the homeward bound!


CHORUS. Yeo-ho – heave ho –
Hurrah for the homeward bound!


To lay aloft in a howling breeze
May tickle a landsman‘s taste,
But the happiest hour a sailor sees
Is when he‘s down
At an inland town,
With his Nancy on his knees, yeo ho!
And his arm around her waist!


CHORUS. Then man the capstan – off we go,
As the fiddler swings us round,
With a yeo heave ho,
And a rum below,
Hurrah for the homeward bound!


A wandering minstrel I, etc.


Enter Pish-Tush.


PISH. And what may be your business with Yum-Yum?
NANK. I‘ll tell you. A year ago I was a member of the
Titipu town band. It was my duty to take the cap round for
contributions. While discharging this delicate office, I saw
Yum-Yum. We loved each other at once, but she was betrothed to
her guardian Ko-Ko, a cheap tailor, and I saw that my suit was
hopeless. Overwhelmed with despair, I quitted the town. Judge
of my delight when I heard, a month ago, that Ko-Ko had been con-
demned to death for flirting! I hurried back at once, in the
hope of finding Yum-Yum at liberty to listen to my protestations.
PISH. It is true that Ko-Ko was condemned to death for
flirting, but he was reprieved at the last moment, and raised to
the exalted rank of Lord High Executioner under the following
remarkable circumstances:




Our great Mikado, virtuous man,
When he to rule our land began,
Resolved to try
A plan whereby
Young men might best be steadied.


So he decreed, in words succinct,
That all who flirted, leered or winked
(Unless connubially linked),
Should forthwith be beheaded.


And I expect you‘ll all agree
That he was right to so decree.
And I am right,
And you are right,
And all is right as right can be!


CHORUS. And you are right.
And we are right, etc


This stem decree, you‘ll understand,
Caused great dismay throughout the land!
For young and old
And shy and bold
Were equally affected.
The youth who winked a roving eye,
Or breathed a non-connubial sigh,
Was thereupon condemned to die –
He usually objected.


And you‘ll allow, as I expect,
That he was right to so object.
And I am right,
And you are right,
And everything is quite correct!


CHORUS. And you are right,
And we are right, etc.


And so we straight let out on bail
A convict from the county jail,
Whose head was next
On some pretext
Condemned to be mown off,
And made him Headsman, for we said,
„Who‘s next to be decapited
Cannot cut off another‘s head
Until he‘s cut his own off.“


And we are right, I think you‘ll say,
To argue in this kind of way;
And I am right,
And you are right,
And all is right – too-looral-lay!


CHORUS. And you are right,
And we are right, etc.


[Exeunt Chorus.


Enter Pooh-Bah.


NANK. Ko-Ko, the cheap tailor, Lord High Executioner of
Titipu! Why, that‘s the highest rank a citizen can attain!
POOH. It is. Our logical Mikado, seeing no moral
difference between the dignified judge who condemns a criminal to
die, and the industrious mechanic who carries out the sentence,
has rolled the two offices into one, and every judge is now his
own executioner.
NANK. But how good of you (for I see that you are a
nobleman of the highest rank) to condescend to tell all this to
me, a mere strolling minstrel!
POOH. Don‘t mention it. I am, in point of fact, a
particularly haughty and exclusive person, of pre-Adamite
ancestral descent. You will understand this when I tell you that
I can trace my ancestry back to a protoplasmal primordial atomic
globule. Consequently, my family pride is something
inconceivable. I can‘t help it. I was born sneering. But I
struggle hard to overcome this defect. I mortify my pride
continually. When all the great officers of State resigned in a
body because they were too proud to serve under an ex-tailor, did
I not unhesitatingly accept all their posts at once?
PISH. And the salaries attached to them? You did.
POOH. It is consequently my degrading duty to serve this
upstart as First Lord of the Treasury, Lord Chief Justice,
Commander-in-Chief, Lord High Admiral, Master of the Buckhounds,
Groom of the Back Stairs, Archbishop of Titipu, and Lord Mayor,
both acting and elect, all rolled into one. And at a salary! A
Pooh-Bah paid for his services! I a salaried minion! But I do
it! It revolts me, but I do it!
NANK. And it does you credit.
POOH. But I don‘t stop at that. I go and dine with
middle-class people on reasonable terms. I dance at cheap
suburban parties for a moderate fee. I accept refreshment at any
hands, however lowly. I also retail State secrets at a very low
figure. For instance, any further information about Yum-Yum
would come under the head of a State secret. (Nanki-Poo takes his
hint, and gives him money.) (Aside.) Another insult and, I
think, a light one!




Young man, despair,
Likewise go to,
Yum-Yum the fair
You must not woo.
It will not do:
I‘m sorry for you,
You very imperfect ablutioner!
This very day
From school Yum-Yum
Will wend her way,
And homeward come,
With beat of drum
And a rum-tum-tum,
To wed the Lord High executioner!
And the brass will crash,
And the trumpets bray,
And they‘ll cut a dash
On their wedding day.
She‘ll toddle away, as all aver,
With the Lord High Executioner ‚


NANK. and POOH. And the brass will crash, etc.


It‘s a hopeless case,
As you may see,
And in your place
Away I‘d flee;
But don‘t blame me –
I‘m sorry to be
Of your pleasure a diminutioner.
They‘ll vow their pact
Extremely soon,
In point of fact
This afternoon.
Her honeymoon
With that buffoon
At seven commences, so you shun her!


ALL. And the brass will crash, etc.
[Exit Pish-Tush.




NANK. And I have journeyed for a month, or nearly,
To learn that Yum-Yum, whom I love so dearly,
This day to Ko-Ko is to be united!
POOH. The fact appears to be as you‘ve recited:
But here he comes, equipped as suits his station;
He‘ll give you any further information.
[Exeunt Pooh-Bah and Nanki-Poo.


Enter Chorus of Nobles.


Behold the Lord High Executioner
A personage of noble rank and title –
A dignified and potent officer,
Whose functions are particularly vital!
Defer, defer,
To the Lord High Executioner!


Enter Ko-Ko attended.




Taken from the county jail
By a set of curious chances;
Liberated then on bail,
On my own recognizances;
Wafted by a favouring gale
As one sometimes is in trances,
To a height that few can scale,
Save by long and weary dances;
Surely, never had a male
Under such like circumstances
So adventurous a tale,
Which may rank with most romances.


CHORUS. Defer, defer,
To the Lord High Executioner, etc.


KO. Gentlemen, I‘m much touched by this reception. I can
only trust that by strict attention to duty I shall ensure a
continuance of those favours which it will ever be my study to
deserve. If I should ever be called upon to act professionally,
I am happy to think that there will be no difficulty in finding
plenty of people whose loss will be a distinct gain to society at




As some day it may happen that a victim must be found,
I‘ve got a little list – I‘ve got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed – who never would be missed!
There‘s the pestilential nuisances who write for autographs –
All people who have flabby hands and irritating laughs –
All children who are up in dates, and floor you with ‚em flat –
All persons who in shaking hands, shake hands with you like
that –
And all third persons who on spoiling tˆte-…-tˆtes insist –
They‘d none of ‚em be missed – they‘d none of ‚em be missed!


CHORUS. He‘s got ‚em on the list – he‘s got ‚em on the list;
And they‘ll none of ‚em be missed – they‘ll none of
‚em be missed.
There‘s the banjo serenader, and the others of his race,
And the piano-organist – I‘ve got him on the list!
And the people who eat peppermint and puff it in your face,
They never would be missed – they never would be missed!
Then the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone,
All centuries but this, and every country but his own;
And the lady from the provinces, who dresses like a guy,
And who „doesn‘t think she waltzes, but would rather like to
And that singular anomaly, the lady novelist –
I don‘t think she‘d be missed – I‘m sure she‘d not he missed!


CHORUS. He‘s got her on the list – he‘s got her on the list;
And I don‘t think she‘ll be missed – I‘m sure
she‘ll not be missed!


And that Nisi Prius nuisance, who just now is rather rife,
The Judicial humorist – I‘ve got him on the list!
All funny fellows, comic men, and clowns of private life –
They‘d none of ‚em be missed – they‘d none of ‚em be missed.
And apologetic statesmen of a compromising kind,
Such as – What d‘ye call him – Thing‘em-bob, and
likewise – Never-mind,
And ‚St – ‘st – ‘st – and What‘s-his-name, and also You-know-who –
The task of filling up the blanks I‘d rather leave to you.
But it really doesn‘t matter whom you put upon the list,
For they‘d none of ‚em be missed – they‘d none of ‚em be


CHORUS. You may put ‚em on the list – you may put ‚em on the
And they‘ll none of ‚em be missed – they‘ll none of
‚em be missed!


Enter Pooh-Bah.


KO. Pooh-Bah, it seems that the festivities in connection
with my approaching marriage must last a week. I should like to
do it handsomely, and I want to consult you as to the amount I
ought to spend upon them.
POOH. Certainly. In which of my capacities? As First Lord
of the Treasury, Lord Chamberlain, Attorney General, Chancellor
of the Exchequer, Privy Purse, or Private Secretary?
KO. Suppose we say as Private Secretary.
POOH. Speaking as your Private Secretary, I should say
that, as the city will have to pay for it, don‘t stint yourself,
do it well.
KO. Exactly – as the city will have to pay for it. That is
your advice.
POOH. As Private Secretary. Of course you will understand
that, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, I am bound to see that due
economy is observed.
KO. Oh! But you said just now „Don‘t stint yourself, do it
POOH. As Private Secretary.
KO. And now you say that due economy must be observed.
POOH. As Chancellor of the Exchequer.
KO. I see. Come over here, where the Chancellor can‘t hear
us. (They cross the stage.) Now, as my Solicitor, how do you
advise me to deal with this difficulty?
POOH. Oh, as your Solicitor, I should have no hesitation in
saying „Chance it – – “
KO. Thank you. (Shaking his hand.) I will.
POOH. If it were not that, as Lord Chief Justice, I am
bound to see that the law isn‘t violated.
KO. I see. Come over here where the Chief Justice can‘t
hear us. (They cross the stage.) Now, then, as First Lord of
the Treasury?
POOH. Of course, as First Lord of the Treasury, I could
propose a special vote that would cover all expenses, if it were
not that, as Leader of the Opposition, it would be my duty to
resist it, tooth and nail. Or, as Paymaster General, I could so
cook the accounts that, as Lord High Auditor, I should never
discover the fraud. But then, as Archbishop of Titipu, it would
be my duty to denounce my dishonesty and give myself into my own
custody as first Commissioner of Police.
KO. That‘s extremely awkward.
POOH. I don‘t say that all these distinguished people
couldn‘t be squared; but it is right to tell you that they
wouldn‘t be sufficiently degraded in their own estimation unless
they were insulted with a very considerable bribe.
KO. The matter shall have my careful consideration. But my
bride and her sisters approach, and any little compliment on your
part, such as an abject grovel in a characteristic Japanese
attitude, would be esteemed a favour.
POOH. No money, no grovel!
[Exeunt together.


Enter procession of Yum-Yum‘s schoolfellows, heralding Yum-Yum,
Peep-Bo, and Pitti-Sing.




Comes a train of little ladies
From scholastic trammels free,
Each a little bit afraid is,
Wondering what the world can be!


Is it but a world of trouble –
Sadness set to song?
Is its beauty but a bubble
Bound to break ere long?


Are its palaces and pleasures
Fantasies that fade?
And the glory of its treasures
Shadow of a shade?


Schoolgirls we, eighteen and under,
From scholastic trammels free,
And we wonder – how we wonder! –
What on earth the world can be!





THE THREE. Three little maids from school are we,
Pert as a school-girl well can be,
Filled to the brim with girlish glee,
Three little maids from school!
YUM-YUM. Everything is a source of fun. (Chuckle.)
PEEP-BO. Nobody‘s safe, for we care for none! (Chuckle.)
PITTI-SING. Life is a joke that‘s just begun! (Chuckle.)
THE THREE. Three little maids from school!
ALL (dancing). Three little maids who, all unwary,
Come from a ladies‘ seminary,
Freed from its genius tutelary –
THE THREE (suddenly demure). Three little maids from school!


YUM-YUM. One little maid is a bride, Yum-Yum –
PEEP-BO. Two little maids in attendance come –
PITTI-SING. Three little maids is the total sum.
THE THREE. Three little maids from school!
YUM-YUM. From three little maids take one away.
PEEP-BO. Two little maids remain, and they –
PITTI-SING. Won‘t have to wait very long, they say –
THE THREE. Three little maids from school!
ALL (dancing). Three little maids who, all unwary,
Come from a ladies‘ seminary,
Freed from its genius tutelary –
THE THREE (suddenly demure). Three little maids from school!


Enter Ko-Ko and Pooh-Bah.


KO. At last, my bride that is to be! (About to embrace
YUM. You‘re not going to kiss me before all these people?
KO. Well, that was the idea.
YUM (aside to Peep-Bo). It seems odd, doesn‘t it?
PEEP. It‘s rather peculiar.
PITTI. Oh, I expect it‘s all right. Must have a beginning,
you know.
YUM. Well, of course I know nothing about these things; but
I‘ve no objection if it‘s usual.
KO. Oh, it‘s quite usual, I think. Eh, Lord Chamberlain?
(Appealing to Pooh-Bah.)
POOH. I have known it done. (Ko-Ko embraces her.)
YUM. Thank goodness that‘s over! (Sees Nanki-Poo, and
rushes to him.) Why, that‘s never you? (The three Girls rush to
him and shake his hands, all speaking at once.)
YUM. Oh, I‘m so glad! I haven‘t seen you for ever so long,
and I‘m right at the top of the school, and I‘ve got three
prizes, and I‘ve come home for good, and I‘m not going back any
PEEP. And have you got an engagement? – Yum-Yum‘s got one,
but she doesn‘t like it, and she‘d ever so much rather it was
you! I‘ve come home for good, and I‘m not going back any more!
PITTI. Now tell us all the news, because you go about
everywhere, and we‘ve been at school, but, thank goodness, that‘s
all over now, and we‘ve come home for good, and we‘re not going
back any more!


(These three speeches are spoken together in one breath.)


KO. I beg your pardon. Will you present me?
YUM. Oh, this is the musician who used –
PEEP. Oh, this is the gentleman-who used –
PITTI. Oh, it is only Nanki-Poo who used –
KO. One at a time, if you please.
YUM. Oh, if you please he‘s the gentleman who used to play
so beautifully on the – on the –
PITTI. On the Marine Parade.
YUM. Yes, I think that was the name of the instrument.
NANK. Sir, I have the misfortune to love your ward,
Yum-Yum – oh, I know I deserve your anger!
KO. Anger! not a bit, my boy. Why, I love her myself.
Charming little girl, isn‘t she? Pretty eyes, nice hair. Taking
little thing, altogether. Very glad to hear my opinion backed by
a competent authority. Thank you very much. Good-bye. (To
Pish-Tush.) Take him away. (Pish-Tush removes him.)
PITTI (who has been examining Pooh-Bah). I beg your pardon,
but what is this? Customer come to try on?
KO. That is a Tremendous Swell.
PITTI. Oh, it‘s alive. (She starts back in alarm.)
POOH. Go away, little girls. Can‘t talk to little girls
like you. Go away, there‘s dears.
KO. Allow me to present you, Pooh-Bah. These are my three
wards. The one in the middle is my bride elect.
POOH. What do you want me to do to them? Mind, I will not
kiss them.
KO. No, no, you shan‘t kiss them; a little bow – a mere
nothing – you needn‘t mean it, you know.
POOH. It goes against the grain. They are not young
ladies, they are young persons.
KO. Come, come, make an effort, there‘s a good nobleman.
POOH. (aside to Ko-Ko). Well, I shan‘t mean it. (with a
great effort.) How de do, little girls, how de do? (Aside.)
Oh, my protoplasmal ancestor!
KO. That‘s very good. (Girls indulge in suppressed
POOH. I see nothing to laugh at. It is very painful to me
to have to say „How de do, little girls, how de do?“ to young
persons. I‘m not in the habit of saying „How de do, little
girls, how de do?“ to anybody under the rank of a Stockbroker.
KO. (aside to girls). Don‘t laugh at him, he can‘t help
it – he‘s under treatment for it. (Aside to Pooh-Bah.) Never mind
them, they don‘t understand the delicacy of your position.
POOH. We know how delicate it is, don‘t we?
KO. I should think we did! How a nobleman of your
importance can do it at all is a thing I never can, never shall
[Ko-Ko retires and goes off.





YUM, PEEP. So please you, Sir, we much regret
and PITTI. If we have failed in etiquette
Towards a man of rank so high –
We shall know better by and by.
YUM. But youth, of course, must have its fling,
So pardon us,
So pardon us,
PITTI. And don‘t, in girlhood‘s happy spring,
Be hard on us,
Be hard on us,
If we‘re inclined to dance and sing.
Tra la la, etc. (Dancing.)
CHORUS OF GIRLS. But youth, of course, etc.
POOH. I think you ought to recollect
You cannot show too much respect
Towards the highly titled few;
But nobody does, and why should you?
That youth at us should have its fling,
Is hard on us,
Is hard on us;
To our prerogative we cling –
So pardon us,
So pardon us,
If we decline to dance and sing.
Tra la la, etc. (Dancing.)
CHORUS OF GIRLS.. But youth, of course, must have its fling, etc.


[Exeunt all but Yum-Yum.


Enter Nanki-Poo.


NANK. Yum-Yum, at last we are alone! I have sought you
night and day for three weeks, in the belief that your guardian
was beheaded, and I find that you are about to be married to him
this afternoon!
YUM. Alas, yes!
NANK. But you do not love him?
YUM. Alas, no!
NANK. Modified rapture! But why do you not refuse him?
YUM. What good would that do? He‘s my guardian, and he
wouldn‘t let me marry you!
NANK. But I would wait until you were of age!
YUM. You forget that in Japan girls do not arrive at years
of discretion until they are fifty.
NANK. True; from seventeen to forty-nine are considered
years of indiscretion.
YUM. Besides – a wandering minstrel, who plays a wind
instrument outside tea-houses, is hardly a fitting husband for
the ward of a Lord High Executioner.
NANK. But – – (Aside.) Shall I tell her? Yes! She will
not betray me! (Aloud.) What if it should prove that, after
all, I am no musician?
YUM. There! I was certain of it, directly I heard you
NANK. What if it should prove that I am no other than the
son of his Majesty the Mikado?
YUM. The son of the Mikado! But why is your Highness
disguised? And what has your Highness done? And will your
Highness promise never to do it again?
NANK. Some years ago I had the misfortune to captivate
Katisha, an elderly lady of my father‘s Court. She misconstrued
my customary affability into expressions of affection, and
claimed me in marriage, under my father‘s law. My father, the
Lucius Junius Brutus of his race, ordered me to marry her within
a week, or perish ignominiously on the scaffold. That night I
fled his Court, and, assuming the disguise of a Second Trombone,
I joined the band in which you found me when I had the happiness
of seeing you! (Approaching her.)
YUM. (retreating). If you please, I think your Highness
had better not come too near. The laws against flirting are
excessively severe.
NANK. But we are quite alone, and nobody can see us.
YUM. Still, that don‘t make it right. To flirt is capital.
NANK. It is capital!
YUM. And we must obey the law.
NANK. Deuce take the law!
YUM. I wish it would, but it won‘t!
NANK. If it were not for that, how happy we might be!
YUM. Happy indeed!
NANK. If it were not for the law, we should now be sitting
side by side, like that. (Sits by her.)
YUM. Instead of being obliged to sit half a mile off, like
that. (Crosses and sits at other side of stage.)
NANK. We should be gazing into each other‘s eyes, like
that. (Gazing at her sentimentally.)
YUM. Breathing sighs of unutterable love – like that.
(Sighing and gazing lovingly at him.)
NANK. With our arms round each other‘s waists, like that.
(Embracing her.)
YUM. Yes, if it wasn‘t for the law.
NANK. If it wasn‘t for the law.
YUM. As it is, of course we couldn‘t do anything of the
NANK. Not for worlds!
YUM. Being engaged to Ko-Ko, you know!
NANK. Being engaged to Ko-Ko!




NANK. Were you not to Ko-Ko plighted,
I would say in tender tone,
„Loved one, let us be united –
Let us be each other‘s own!“
I would merge all rank and station,
Worldly sneers are nought to us,
And, to mark my admiration,
I would kiss you fondly thus – (Kisses her.)
BOTH. I/He would kiss you/me fondly thus – (Kiss.)
YUM. But as I‘m engaged to Ko-Ko,
To embrace you thus, con fuoco,
Would distinctly be no giuoco,
And for yam I should get toko –


BOTH. Toko, toko, toko, toko!


NANK. So, In spite of all temptation,
Such a theme I‘ll not discuss,
And on no consideration
Will I kiss you fondly thus – (Kissing her.)
Let me make it clear to you,
This is what I‘ll never do!
This, oh, this, oh, this, oh, this, – (Kissing


TOGETHER. This, oh, this, etc.


[Exeunt in opposite directions.


Enter Ko-Ko.


KO. (looking after Yum-Yum). There she goes! To think how
entirely my future happiness is wrapped up in that little parcel!
Really, it hardly seems worth while! Oh, matrimony! – (Enter
Pooh-Bah and Pish-Tush.) Now then, what is it? Can‘t you see I‘m
soliloquizing? You have interrupted an apostrophe, sir!
PISH. I am the bearer of a letter from his Majesty the
KO. (taking it from him reverentially). A letter from the
Mikado! What in the world can he have to say to me? (Reads
letter.) Ah, here it is at last! I thought it would come sooner
or later! The Mikado is struck by the fact that no executions
have taken place in Titipu for a year, and decrees that unless
somebody is beheaded within one month the post of Lord High
Executioner shall be abolished, and the city reduced to the rank
of a village!
PISH. But that will involve us all in irretrievable ruin!
KO. Yes. There is no help for it, I shall have to execute
somebody at once. The only question is, who shall it be?
POOH. Well, it seems unkind to say so, but as you‘re
already under sentence of death for flirting, everything seems to
point to you.
KO. To me? What are you talking about? I can‘t execute
POOH. Why not?
KO. Why not? Because, in the first place, self
decapitation is an extremely difficult, not to say dangerous,
thing to attempt; and, in the second, it‘s suicide, and suicide
is a capital offence.
POOH. That is so, no doubt.
PISH. We might reserve that point.
POOH. True, it could be argued six months hence, before the
full Court.
KO. Besides, I don‘t see how a man can cut off his own
POOH. A man might try.
PISH. Even if you only succeeded in cutting it half off,
that would be something.
POOH. It would be taken as an earnest of your desire to
comply with the Imperial will.
KO. No. Pardon me, but there I am adamant. As official
Headsman, my reputation is at stake, and I can‘t consent to
embark on a professional operation unless I see my way to a
successful result.
POOH. This professional conscientiousness is highly
creditable to you, but it places us in a very awkward position.
KO. My good sir, the awkwardness of your position is grace
itself compared with that of a man engaged in the act of cutting
off his own head.

KO. A substitute? Oh, certainly – nothing easier. (To
Pooh-Bah.) Pooh-Bah, I appoint you Lord High Substitute.
POOH. I should be delighted. Such an appointment would
realize my fondest dreams. But no, at any sacrifice, I must set
bounds to my insatiable ambition!




Ko-Ko Pooh-Bah Pish-Tush


My brain it teams I am so proud, I heard one day
With endless schemes If I allowed A gentleman say
Both good and new My family pride That criminals who
For Titipu; To be my guide, Are cut in two
But if I flit, I‘d volunteer Can hardly feel
The benefit To quit this sphere The fatal steel,
That I‘d diffuse Instead of you And so are slain
The town would lose! In a minute or two, Without much pain.
Now every man But family pride If this is true,
To aid his clan Must be denied, It‘s jolly for you;
Should plot and plan And set aside, Your courage screw
As best he can, And mortified. To bid us adieu,
And so, And so, And go
Although Although And show
I‘m ready to go, I wish to go, Both friend and foe
Yet recollect And greatly pine How much you dare.
‚Twere disrespect To brightly shine, I‘m quite aware
Did I neglect And take the line It‘s your affair,
To thus effect Of a hero fine, Yet I declare
This aim direct, With grief condign I‘d take your share,
So I object – I must decline – But I don‘t much care –
So I object – I must decline – I don‘t much care –
So I object – I must decline – I don‘t much care –


ALL. To sit in solemn silence in a dull, dark dock,
In a pestilential prison, with a life-long lock,
Awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp shock,
From a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block!
[Exeunt Pooh. and Pish.


KO. This is simply appalling! I, who allowed myself to be
respited at the last moment, simply in order to benefit my native
town, am now required to die within a month, and that by a man
whom I have loaded with honours! Is this public gratitude? Is
this – – (Enter Nanki-Poo, with a rope in his hands.) Go away,
sir! How dare you? Am I never to be permitted to soliloquize?
NANK. Oh, go on – don‘t mind me.
KO. What are you going to do with that rope?
NANK. I am about to terminate an unendurabIe existence.
KO. Terminate your existence? Oh, nonsense! What for?
NANK. Because you are going to marry the girl I adore.
KO. Nonsense, sir. I won‘t permit it. I am a humane man,
and if you attempt anything of the kind I shall order your
instant arrest. Come, sir, desist at once or I summon my guard.
NANK. That‘s absurd. If you attempt to raise an alarm, I
instantly perform the Happy Despatch with this dagger.
KO. No, no, don‘t do that. This is horrible! (Suddenly.)
Why, you cold-blooded scoundrel, are you aware that, in taking
your life, you are committing a crime which – which – which is – –
Oh! (Struck by an idea.) Substitute!
NANK. What‘s the matter?
KO. Is it absolutely certain that you are resolved to die?
NANK. Absolutely!
KO. Will nothing shake your resolution?
NANK. Nothing.
KO. Threats, entreaties, prayers – all useless?
NANK. All! My mind is made up.
KO. Then, if you really mean what you say, and if you are
absolutely resolved to die, and if nothing whatever will shake
your determination – don‘t spoil yourself by committing suicide,
but be beheaded handsomely at the hands of the Public
NANK. I don‘t see how that would benefit me.
KO. You don‘t? Observe: you‘ll have a month to live, and
you‘ll live like a fighting-cock at my expense. When the day
comes there‘ll be a grand public ceremonial – you‘ll be the
central figure – no one will attempt to deprive you of that
distinction. There‘ll be a procession – bands – dead march – bells
tolling – all the girls in tears – Yum-Yum distracted – then, when
it‘s all over, general rejoicings, and a display of fireworks in
the evening. You won‘t see them, but they‘ll be there all the
NANK. Do you think Yum-Yum would really be distracted at my
KO. I am convinced of it. Bless you, she‘s the most
tender-hearted little creature alive.
NANK. I should be sorry to cause her pain. Perhaps, after
all, if I were to withdraw from Japan, and travel in Europe for a
couple of years, I might contrive to forget her.
KO. Oh, I don‘t think you could forget Yum-Yum so easily;
and, after all, what is more miserable than a love-blighted life?
NANK. True.
KO. Life without Yum-Yum – why, it seems absurd!
NANK. And yet there are a good many people in the world who
have to endure it.
KO. Poor devils, yes! You are quite right not to be of
their number.
NANK. (suddenly). I won‘t be of their number!
KO. Noble fellow!
NANK. I‘ll tell you how we‘ll manage it. Let me marry
Yum-Yum to-morrow, and in a month you may behead me.
KO. No, no. I draw the line at Yum-Yum.
NANK. Very good. If you can draw the line, so can I.
(Preparing rope.)
KO. Stop, stop – listen one moment – be reasonable. How can
I consent to your marrying Yum-Yum if I‘m going to marry her
NANK. My good friend, she‘ll be a widow in a month, and you
can marry her then.
KO. That‘s true, of course. I quite see that. But, dear
me! my position during the next month will be most
unpleasant – most unpleasant.
NANK. Not half so unpleasant as my position at the end of
KO. But – dear me! – well – I agree – after all, it‘s only
putting off my wedding for a month. But you won‘t prejudice her
against me, will you? You see, I‘ve educated her to be my wife;
she‘s been taught to regard me as a wise and good man. Now I
shouldn‘t like her views on that point disturbed.
NANK. Trust me, she shall never learn the truth from me.




Enter Chorus, Pooh-Bah, and Pish-Tush.




With aspect stern
And gloomy stride,
We come to learn
How you decide.


Don‘t hesitate
Your choice to name,
A dreadful fate
You‘ll suffer all the same.


POOH. To ask you what you mean to do we punctually appear.
KO. Congratulate me, gentlemen, I‘ve found a Volunteer!
ALL. The Japanese equivalent for Hear, Hear, Hear!
KO. (presenting him). ‚Tis Nanki-Poo!
ALL. Hail, Nanki-Poo!
KO. I think he‘ll do?
ALL. Yes, yes, he‘ll do!


KO. He yields his life if I‘ll Yum-Yum surrender.
Now I adore that girl with passion tender,
And could not yield her with a ready will,
Or her allot,
If I did not
Adore myself with passion tenderer still!


Enter Yum-Yum, Peep-Bo, and Pitti-Sing.


ALL. Ah, yes!
He loves himself with passion tenderer still!
KO. (to Nanki-Poo). Take her – she‘s yours!
[Exit Ko-Ko




NANKI-POO. The threatened cloud has passed away,
YUM-YUM. And brightly shines the dawning day;
NANKI-POO. What though the night may come too soon,
YUM-YUM. There‘s yet a month of afternoon!


and PEEP-BO.


Then let the throng
Our joy advance,
With laughing song
And merry dance,


CHORUS. With joyous shout and ringing cheer,
Inaugurate our brief career!


PITTI-SING. A day, a week, a month, a year –
YUM. Or far or near, or far or near,
POOH. Life‘s eventime comes much too soon,
PITTI-SING. You‘ll live at least a honeymoon!


ALL. Then let the throng, etc.


CHORUS. With joyous shout, etc.




As in a month you‘ve got to die,
If Ko-Ko tells us true,
‚Twere empty compliment to cry
„Long life to Nanki-Poo!“
But as one month you have to live
As fellow-citizen,
This toast with three times three we‘ll give –
„Long life to you – till then!“


[Exit Pooh-Bah.


CHORUS. May all good fortune prosper you,
May you have health and riches too,
May you succeed in all you do!
Long life to you – till then!



Enter Katisha melodramatically


KAT. Your revels cease! Assist me, all of you!
CHORUS. Why, who is this whose evil eyes
Rain blight on our festivities?
KAT. I claim my perjured lover, Nanki-Poo!
Oh, fool! to shun delights that never cloy!
CHORUS. Go, leave thy deadly work undone!
KAT. Come back, oh, shallow fool! come back to joy!
CHORUS. Away, away! ill-favoured one!


NANK. (aside to Yum-Yum). Ah!
‚Tis Katisha!
The maid of whom I told you. (About to go.)


KAT. (detaining him). No!
You shall not go,
These arms shall thus enfold you!




KAT. (addressing Nanki-Poo).
Oh fool, that fleest
My hallowed joys!
Oh blind, that seest
No equipoise!
Oh rash, that judgest
From half, the whole!
Oh base, that grudgest
Love‘s lightest dole!
Thy heart unbind,
Oh fool, oh blind!
Give me my place,
Oh rash, oh base!


CHORUS. If she‘s thy bride, restore her place,
Oh fool, oh blind, oh rash, oh base!


KAT. (addressing Yum-Yum).
Pink cheek, that rulest
Where wisdom serves!
Bright eye, that foolest
Heroic nerves!
Rose lip, that scornest
Lore-laden years!
Smooth tongue, that warnest
Who rightly hears!
Thy doom is nigh.
Pink cheek, bright eye!
Thy knell is rung,
Rose lip, smooth tongue!


CHORUS. If true her tale, thy knell is rung,
Pink cheek, bright eye, rose lip, smooth tongue!


PITTI-SING. Away, nor prosecute your quest –
From our intention, well expressed,
You cannot turn us!
The state of your connubial views
Towards the person you accuse
Does not concern us!
For he‘s going to marry Yum-Yum –
ALL. Yum-Yum!
PITTI. Your anger pray bury,
For all will be merry,
I think you had better succumb –
ALL. Cumb – cumb!
PITTI. And join our expressions of glee.
On this subject I pray you be dumb –
ALL. Dumb – dumb.
PITTI. You‘ll find there are many
Who‘ll wed for a penny –
The word for your guidance is „Mum“ –
ALL. Mum – mum!
PITTI. There‘s lots of good fish in the sea!


ALL. On this subject we pray you be dumb, etc.




The hour of gladness
Is dead and gone;
In silent sadness
I live alone!
The hope I cherished
All lifeless lies,
And all has perished
Save love, which never dies!
Oh, faithless one, this insult you shall rue!
In vain for mercy on your knees you‘ll sue.
I‘ll tear the mask from your disguising!


NANK. (aside). Now comes the blow!
KAT. Prepare yourselves for news surprising!
NANK. (aside). How foil my foe?
KAT. No minstrel he, despite bravado!
YUM. (aside, struck by an idea). Ha! ha! I know!
KAT. He is the son of your – –


(Nanki-Poo, Yum-Yum, and Chorus, interrupting, sing Japanese words,
to drown her voice.)


O ni! bikkuri shakkuri to!
KAT. In vain you interrupt with this tornado!
He is the only son of your – –
ALL. O ni! bikkuri shakkuri to!
KAT. I‘ll spoil – –
ALL. O ni! bikkuri shakkuri to!
KAT. Your gay gambado!
He is the son – –
ALL. O ni! bikkuri shakkuri to!
KAT. Of your – –
ALL. O ni! bikkuri shakkuri to!
KAT. The son of your – –
ALL. O ni! bikkuri shakkuri to! oya! oya!





Ye torrents roar! We‘ll hear no more,
Ye tempests howl! Ill-omened owl.
Your wrath outpour To joy we soar,
With angry growl! Despite your scowl!
Do ye your worst, my vengeance The echoes of our festival
Shall rise triumphant over all! Shall rise triumphant over all!
Prepare for woe, Away you go,
Ye haughty lords, Collect your hordes;
At once I go Proclaim your woe
Mikado-wards, In dismal chords
My wrongs with vengeance shall We do not heed their dismal
be crowned! sound
My wrongs with vengeance shall For joy reigns everywhere
be crowned! around.


(Katisha rushes furiously up stage, clearing the crowd away right
and left, finishing on steps at the back of stage.)




nach oben





SCENE. – Ko-Ko‘s Garden.


Yum-Yum discovered seated at her bridal toilet, surrounded by
maidens, who are dressing her hair and painting her face and
lips, as she judges of the effect in a mirror.




CHORUS. Braid the raven hair –
Weave the supple tress –
Deck the maiden fair
In her loveliness –
Paint the pretty face –
Dye the coral lip –
Emphasize the grace
Of her ladyship!
Art and nature, thus allied,
Go to make a pretty bride.




Sit with downcast eye
Let it brim with dew –
Try if you can cry –
We will do so, too.
When you‘re summoned, start
Like a frightened roe –
Flutter, little heart,
Colour, come and go!
Modesty at marriage-tide
Well becomes a pretty bride!



Braid the raven hair, etc.


[Exeunt Pitti-Sing, Peep-Bo, and Chorus.


YUM. Yes, I am indeed beautiful! Sometimes I sit and
wonder, in my artless Japanese way, why it is that I am so much
more attractive than anybody else in the whole world. Can this
be vanity? No! Nature is lovely and rejoices in her loveliness.
I am a child of Nature, and take after my mother.




The sun, whose rays
Are all ablaze
With ever-living glory,
Does not deny
His majesty –
He scorns to tell a story!
He don‘t exclaim,
„I blush for shame,
So kindly be indulgent.“
But, fierce and bold,
In fiery gold,
He glories effulgent!


I mean to rule the earth,
As he the sky –
We really know our worth,
The sun and I!


Observe his flame,
That placid dame,
The moon‘s Celestial Highness;
There‘s not a trace
Upon her face
Of diffidence or shyness:
She borrows light
That, through the night,
Mankind may all acclaim her!
And, truth to tell,
She lights up well,
So I, for one, don‘t blame her!


Ah, pray make no mistake,
We are not shy;
We‘re very wide awake,
The moon and I!


Enter Pitti-Sing and Peep-Bo.


YUM. Yes, everything seems to smile upon me. I am to be
married to-day to the man I love best and I believe I am the very
happiest girl in Japan!
PEEP. The happiest girl indeed, for she is indeed to be
envied who has attained happiness in all but perfection.
YUM. In „all but“ perfection?
PEEP. Well, dear, it can‘t be denied that the fact that
your husband is to be beheaded in a month is, in its way, a
drawback. It does seem to take the top off it, you know.
PITTI. I don‘t know about that. It all depends!
PEEP. At all events, he will find it a drawback.
PITTI. Not necessarily. Bless you, it all depends!
YUM. (in tears). I think it very indelicate of you to
refer to such a subject on such a day. If my married happiness
is to be – to be –
PEEP. Cut short.
YUM. Well, cut short – in a month, can‘t you let me forget
it? (Weeping.)


Enter Nanki-Poo, followed by Go-To.


NANK. Yum-Yum in tears – and on her wedding morn!
YUM. (sobbing). They‘ve been reminding me that in a month
you‘re to be beheaded! (Bursts into tears.)
PITTI. Yes, we‘ve been reminding her that you‘re to be
beheaded. (Bursts into tears.)
PEEP. It‘s quite true, you know, you are to be beheaded!
(Bursts into tears.)
NANK. (aside). Humph! Now, some bridegrooms would be
depressed by this sort of thing! (Aloud.) A month? Well,
what‘s a month? Bah! These divisions of time are purely
arbitrary. Who says twenty-four hours make a day?
PITTI. There‘s a popular impression to that effect.
NANK. Then we‘ll efface it. We‘ll call each second a
minute – each minute an hour – each hour a day – and each day a
year. At that rate we‘ve about thirty years of married happiness
before us!
PEEP. And, at that rate, this interview has already lasted
four hours and three-quarters!
[Exit Peep-Bo.
YUM. (still sobbing). Yes. How time flies when one is
thoroughly enjoying oneself!
NANK. That‘s the way to look at it! Don‘t let‘s be
downhearted! There‘s a silver lining to every cloud.
YUM. Certainly. Let‘s – let‘s be perfectly happy! (Almost
in tears.)
GO-TO. By all means. Let‘s – let‘s thoroughly enjoy
PITTI. It‘s – it‘s absurd to cry! (Trying to force a
YUM. Quite ridiculous! (Trying to laugh.)


(All break into a forced and melancholy laugh.)






Brightly dawns our wedding day;
Joyous hour, we give thee greeting!
Whither, whither art thou fleeting?
Fickle moment, prithee stay!
What though mortal joys be hollow?
Pleasures come, if sorrows follow:
Though the tocsin sound, ere long,
Ding dong! Ding dong!
Yet until the shadows fall
Over one and over all,
Sing a merry madrigal –
A madrigal!


Fal-la – fal-la! etc. (Ending in tears.)


Let us dry the ready tear,
Though the hours are surely creeping
Little need for woeful weeping,
Till the sad sundown is near.
All must sip the cup of sorrow –
I to-day and thou to-morrow;
This the close of every song –
Ding dong! Ding dong!
What, though solemn shadows fall,
Sooner, later, over all?
Sing a merry madrigal –
A madrigal!


Fal-la – fal-la! etc. (Ending in tears.)


[Exeunt Pitti-Sing and Pish-Tush.


(Nanki-Poo embraces Yum-Yum. Enter Ko-Ko. Nanki-Poo releases


KO. Go on – don‘t mind me.
NANK. I‘m afraid we‘re distressing you.
KO. Never mind, I must get used to it. Only please do it
by degrees. Begin by putting your arm round her waist.
(Nanki-Poo does so.) There; let me get used to that first.
YUM. Oh, wouldn‘t you like to retire? It must pain you to
see us so affectionate together!
KO. No, I must learn to bear it! Now oblige me by allowing
her head to rest on your shoulder.
NANK. Like that? (He does so. Ko-Ko much affected.)
KO. I am much obliged to you. Now – kiss her! (He does so.
Ko-Ko writhes with anguish.) Thank you – it‘s simple torture!
YUM. Come, come, bear up. After all, it‘s only for a
KO. No. It‘s no use deluding oneself with false hopes.
NANK. and YUM. What do you mean?
KO. (to Yum-Yum). My child – my poor child! (Aside.) How
shall I break it to her? (Aloud.) My little bride that was to
have been?
YUM. (delighted). Was to have been?
KO. Yes, you never can be mine!
NANK. and YUM. (simultaneously, in ecstacy) What!/I‘m so
KO. I‘ve just ascertained that, by the Mikado‘s law, when a
married man is beheaded his wife is buried alive.
NANK. and YUM. Buried alive!
KO. Buried alive. It‘s a most unpleasant death.
NANK. But whom did you get that from?
KO. Oh, from Pooh-Bah. He‘s my Solicitor.
YUM. But he may be mistaken!
KO. So I thought; so I consulted the Attorney General, the
Lord Chief Justice, the Master of the Rolls, the Judge Ordinary,
and the Lord Chancellor. They‘re all of the same opinion. Never
knew such unanimity on a point of law in my life!
NANK. But stop a bit! This law has never been put in
KO. Not yet. You see, flirting is the only crime
punishable with decapitation, and married men never flirt.
NANK. Of course, they don‘t. I quite forgot that! Well, I
suppose I may take it that my dream of happiness is at an end!
YUM. Darling – I don‘t want to appear selfish, and I love
you with all my heart – I don‘t suppose I shall ever love anybody
else half as much – but when I agreed to marry you – my own – I had
no idea – pet – that I should have to be buried alive in a month!
NANK. Nor I! It‘s the very first I‘ve heard of it!
YUM. It – it makes a difference, doesn‘t it?
NANK. It does make a difference, of course.
YUM. You see – burial alive – it‘s such a stuffy death!
NANK. I call it a beast of a death.
YUM. You see my difficulty, don‘t you?
NANK. Yes, and I see my own. If I insist on your carrying
out your promise, I doom you to a hideous death; if I release
you, you marry Ko-Ko at once!




YUM. Here‘s a how-de-do!
If I marry you,
When your time has come to perish,
Then the maiden whom you cherish
Must be slaughtered, too!
Here‘s a how-de-do!


NANK. Here‘s a pretty mess!
In a month, or less,
I must die without a wedding!
Let the bitter tears I‘m shedding
Witness my distress,
Here‘s a pretty mess!


KO. Here‘s a state of things
To her life she clings!
Matrimonial devotion
Doesn‘t seem to suit her notion –
Burial it brings!
Here‘s a state of things!





With a passion that‘s intense With a passion that‘s intense
I worship and adore, You worship and adore,
But the laws of common sense But the laws of common sense
We oughtn‘t to ignore. You oughtn‘t to ignore.
If what he says is true, If what I say is true,
‚Tis death to marry you! ‚Tis death to marry you!
Here‘s a pretty state of things! Here‘s a pretty state of things!
Here‘s a pretty how-de-do! Here‘s a pretty how-de-do!


[Exit Yum-Yum.


KO. (going up to Nanki-Poo). My poor boy, I‘m really very
sorry for you.
NANK. Thanks, old fellow. I‘m sure you are.
KO. You see I‘m quite helpless.
NANK. I quite see that.
KO. I can‘t conceive anything more distressing than to have
one‘s marriage broken off at the last moment. But you shan‘t be
disappointed of a wedding – you shall come to mine.
NANK. It‘s awfully kind of you, but that‘s impossible.
KO. Why so?
NANK. To-day I die.
KO. What do you mean?
NANK. I can‘t live without Yum-Yum. This afternoon I
perform the Happy Despatch.
KO. No, no – pardon me – I can‘t allow that.
NANK. Why not?
KO. Why, hang it all, you‘re under contract to die by the
hand of the Public Executioner in a month‘s time! If you kill
yourself, what‘s to become of me? Why, I shall have to be
executed in your place!
NANK. It would certainly seem so!


Enter Pooh-Bah.


KO. Now then, Lord Mayor, what is it?
POOH. The Mikado and his suite are approaching the city,
and will be here in ten minutes.
KO. The Mikado! He‘s coming to see whether his orders have
been carried out! (To Nanki-Poo.) Now look here, you know – this
is getting serious – a bargain‘s a bargain, and you really mustn‘t
frustrate the ends of justice by committing suicide. As a man of
honour and a gentleman, you are bound to die ignominiously by the
hands of the Public Executioner.
NANK. Very well, then – behead me.
KO. What, now?
NANK. Certainly; at once.
POOH. Chop it off! Chop it off!
KO. My good sir, I don‘t go about prepared to execute
gentlemen at a moment‘s notice. Why, I never even killed a
POOH. Still, as Lord High Executioner – –
KO. My good sir, as Lord High Executioner, I‘ve got to
behead him in a month. I‘m not ready yet. I don‘t know how it‘s
done. I‘m going to take lessons. I mean to begin with a guinea
pig, and work my way through the animal kingdom till I come to a
Second Trombone. Why, you don‘t suppose that, as a humane man,
I‘d have accepted the post of Lord High Executioner if I hadn‘t
thought the duties were purely nominal? I can‘t kill you – I
can‘t kill anything! I can‘t kill anybody! (Weeps.)
NANK. Come, my poor fellow, we all have unpleasant duties
to discharge at times; after all, what is it? If I don‘t mind,
why should you? Remember, sooner or later it must be done.
KO. (springing up suddenly). Must it? I‘m not so sure
about that!
NANK. What do you mean?
KO. Why should I kill you when making an affidavit that
you‘ve been executed will do just as well? Here are plenty of
witnesses – the Lord Chief Justice, Lord High Admiral,
Commander-in-Chief, Secretary of State for the Home Department,
First Lord of the Treasury, and Chief Commissioner of Police.
NANK. But where are they?
KO. There they are. They‘ll all swear to it – won‘t you?
(To Pooh-Bah.)
POOH. Am I to understand that all of us high Officers of
State are required to perjure ourselves to ensure your safety?
KO. Why not! You‘ll be grossly insulted, as usual.
POOH. Will the insult be cash down, or at a date?
KO. It will be a ready-money transaction.
POOH. (Aside.) Well, it will be a useful discipline.
(Aloud.) Very good. Choose your fiction, and I‘ll endorse it!
(Aside.) Ha! ha! Family Pride, how do you like that, my buck?
NANK. But I tell you that life without Yum-Yum – –
KO. Oh, Yum-Yum, Yum-Yum! Bother Yum-Yum! Here,
Commissionaire (to Pooh-Bah), go and fetch Yum-Yum. (Exit
Pooh-Bah.) Take Yum-Yum and marry Yum-Yum, only go away and never
come back again. (Enter Pooh-Bah with Yum-Yum.) Here she is.
Yum-Yum, are you particularly busy?
YUM. Not particularly.
KO. You‘ve five minutes to spare?
YUM. Yes.
KO. Then go along with his Grace the Archbishop of Titipu;
he‘ll marry you at once.
YUM. But if I‘m to be buried alive?
KO. Now, don‘t ask any questions, but do as I tell you, and
Nanki-Poo will explain all.
NANK. But one moment – –
KO. Not for worlds. Here comes the Mikado, no doubt to
ascertain whether I‘ve obeyed his decree, and if he finds you
alive I shall have the greatest difficulty in persuading him that
I‘ve beheaded you. (Exeunt Nanki-Poo and Yum-Yum, followed by
Pooh-Bah.) Close thing that, for here he comes!
[Exit Ko-Ko.


March. – Enter procession, heralding Mikado, with Katisha.


Entrance of Mikado and Katisha.

(„March of the Mikado‘s troops.“)


CHORUS. Miya sama, miya sama,
On n‘m-ma no maye ni
Pira-Pira suru no wa
Nan gia na
Toko tonyare tonyare na?




MIK. From every kind of man
Obedience I expect;
I‘m the Emperor of Japan –


KAT. And I‘m his daughter-in-law elect!
He‘ll marry his son
(He‘s only got one)
To his daughter-in-law elect!


MIK. My morals have been declared
Particularly correct;


KAT. But they‘re nothing at all, compared
With those of his daughter-in-law elect!
Bow – Bow –
To his daughter-in-law elect!


ALL. Bow – Bow –
To his daughter-in-law elect.


MIK. In a fatherly kind of way
I govern each tribe and sect,
All cheerfully own my sway –


KAT. Except his daughter-in-law elect!
As tough as a bone,
With a will of her own,
Is his daughter-in-law elect!


MIK. My nature is love and light –
My freedom from all defect –


KAT. Is insignificant quite,
Compared with his daughter-in-law elect!
Bow – Bow –
To his daughter-in-law elect!


ALL. Bow – Bow –
To his daughter-in-law elect!




A more humane Mikado never
Did in Japan exist,
To nobody second,
I‘m certainly reckoned
A true philanthropist.
It is my very humane endeavour
To make, to some extent,
Each evil liver
A running river
Of harmless merriment.


My object all sublime
I shall achieve in time –
To let the punishment fit the crime –
The punishment fit the crime;
And make each prisoner pent
Unwillingly represent
A source of innocent merriment!
Of innocent merriment!


All prosy dull society sinners,
Who chatter and bleat and bore,
Are sent to hear sermons
From mystical Germans
Who preach from ten till four.
The amateur tenor, whose vocal villainies
All desire to shirk,
Shall, during off-hours,
Exhibit his powers
To Madame Tussaud‘s waxwork.


The lady who dyes a chemical yellow
Or stains her grey hair puce,
Or pinches her figure,
Is painted with vigour
With permanent walnut juice.
The idiot who, in railway carriages,
Scribbles on window-panes,
We only suffer
To ride on a buffer
In Parliamentary trains.


My object all sublime, etc.


CHORUS. His object all sublime, etc.


The advertising quack who wearies
With tales of countless cures,
His teeth, I‘ve enacted,
Shall all be extracted
By terrified amateurs.
The music-hall singer attends a series
Of masses and fugues and „ops“
By Bach, interwoven
With Spohr and Beethoven,
At classical Monday Pops.


The billiard sharp who any one catches,
His doom‘s extremely hard –
He‘s made to dwell –
In a dungeon cell
On a spot that‘s always barred.
And there he plays extravagant matches
In fitless finger-stalls
On a cloth untrue
With a twisted cue
And elliptical billiard balls!


My object all sublime, etc.


CHORUS. His object all sublime, etc.


Enter Pooh-Bah, Ko-Ko, and Pitti-Sing. All kneel


(Pooh-Bah hands a paper to Ko-Ko.)


KO. I am honoured in being permitted to welcome your
Majesty. I guess the object of your Majesty‘s visit – your wishes
have been attended to. The execution has taken place.
MIK. Oh, you‘ve had an execution, have you?
KO. Yes. The Coroner has just handed me his certificate.
POOH. I am the Coroner. (Ko-Ko hands certificate to
MIK. And this is the certificate of his death. (Reads.)
„At Titipu, in the presence of the Lord Chancellor, Lord Chief
Justice, Attorney-General, Secretary of State for the Home
Department, Lord Mayor, and Groom of the Second Floor Front – – “
POOH. They were all present, your Majesty. I counted them
MIK. Very good house. I wish I‘d been in time for the
KO. A tough fellow he was, too – a man of gigantic strength.
His struggles were terrific. It was a remarkable scene.
MIK. Describe it.






KO. The criminal cried, as he dropped him down,
In a state of wild alarm –
With a frightful, frantic, fearful frown,
I bared my big right arm.
I seized him by his little pig-tail,
And on his knees fell he,
As he squirmed and struggled,
And gurgled and guggled,
I drew my snickersnee!
Oh, never shall I
Forget the cry,
Or the shriek that shrieked he,
As I gnashed my teeth,
When from its sheath
I drew my snickersnee!



We know him well,
He cannot tell
Untrue or groundless tales –
He always tries
To utter lies,
And every time he fails.


PITTI. He shivered and shook as he gave the sign
For the stroke he didn‘t deserve;
When all of a sudden his eye met mine,
And it seemed to brace his nerve;
For he nodded his head and kissed his hand,
And he whistled an air, did he,
As the sabre true
Cut cleanly through
His cervical vertebrae!


When a man‘s afraid,
A beautiful maid
Is a cheering sight to see;
And it‘s oh, I‘m glad
That moment sad
Was soothed by sight of me!




Her terrible tale
You can‘t assail,
With truth it quite agrees:
Her taste exact
For faultless fact
Amounts to a disease.


POOH. Now though you‘d have said that head was dead
(For its owner dead was he),
It stood on its neck, with a smile well-bred,
And bowed three times to me!
It was none of your impudent off-hand nods,
But as humble as could be;
For it clearly knew
The deference due
To a man of pedigree!
And it‘s oh, I vow,
This deathly bow
Was a touching sight to see;
Though trunkless, yet
It couldn‘t forget
The deference due to me!



This haughty youth,
He speaks the truth
Whenever he finds it pays:
And in this case
It all took place
Exactly as he says!
[Exeunt Chorus.


MIK. All this is very interesting, and I should like to
have seen it. But we came about a totally different matter. A
year ago my son, the heir to the throne of Japan, bolted from our
Imperial Court.
KO. Indeed! Had he any reason to be dissatisfied with his
KAT. None whatever. On the contrary, I was going to marry
him – yet he fled!
POOH. I am surprised that he should have fled from one so
KAT. That‘s not true.
KAT. You hold that I am not beautiful because my face is
plain. But you know nothing; you are still unenlightened.
Learn, then, that it is not in the face alone that beauty is to
be sought. My face is unattractive!
POOH. It is.
KAT. But I have a left shoulder-blade that is a miracle of
loveliness. People come miles to see it. My right elbow has a
fascination that few can resist.
POOH. Allow me!
KAT. It is on view Tuesdays and Fridays, on presentation of
visiting card. As for my circulation, it is the largest in the
KO. And yet he fled!
MIK. And is now masquerading in this town, disguised as a
Second Trombone.
KO., POOH., and PITTI. A Second Trombone!
MIK. Yes; would it be troubling you too much if I asked you
to produce him? He goes by the name of – –
KAT. Nanki-Poo.
MIK. Nanki-Poo.
KO. It‘s quite easy. That is, it‘s rather difficult. In
point of fact, he‘s gone abroad!
MIK. Gone abroad! His address.
KO. Knightsbridge!
KAT. (who is reading certificate of death). Ha!
MIK. What‘s the matter?
KAT. See here – his name – Nanki-Poo – beheaded this morning.
Oh, where shall I find another? Where shall I find another?


[Ko-Ko, Pooh-Bah, and Pitti-Sing fall on their knees.


MIK. (looking at paper). Dear, dear, dear! this is very
tiresome. (To Ko-Ko.) My poor fellow, in your anxiety to carry
out my wishes you have beheaded the heir to the throne of Japan!
KO. I beg to offer an unqualified apology.
POOH. I desire to associate myself with that expression of
PITTI. We really hadn‘t the least notion –
MIK. Of course you hadn‘t. How could you? Come, come, my
good fellow, don‘t distress yourself – it was no fault of yours.
If a man of exalted rank chooses to disguise himself as a Second
Trombone, he must take the consequences. It really distresses me
to see you take on so. I‘ve no doubt he thoroughly deserved all
he got. (They rise.)
KO. We are infinitely obliged to your Majesty – –
PITTI. Much obliged, your Majesty.
POOH. Very much obliged, your Majesty.
MIK. Obliged? not a bit. Don‘t mention it. How could you
POOH. No, of course we couldn‘t tell who the gentleman
really was.
PITTI. It wasn‘t written on his forehead, you know.
KO. It might have been on his pocket-handkerchief, but
Japanese don‘t use pocket-handkerchiefs! Ha! ha! ha!
MIK. Ha! ha! ha! (To Katisha.) I forget the punishment for
compassing the death of the Heir Apparent.
KO., POOH, and PITTI. Punishment. (They drop down on their
knees again.)
MIK. Yes. Something lingering, with boiling oil in it, I
fancy. Something of that sort. I think boiling oil occurs in
it, but I‘m not sure. I know it‘s something humorous, but
lingering, with either boiling oil or melted lead. Come, come,
don‘t fret – I‘m not a bit angry.
KO. (in abject terror). If your Majesty will accept our
assurance, we had no idea – –
MIK. Of course – –
PITTI. I knew nothing about it.
POOH. I wasn‘t there.
MIK. That‘s the pathetic part of it. Unfortunately, the
fool of an Act says „compassing the death of the Heir Apparent.“
There‘s not a word about a mistake – –
KO., PITTI., and POOH. No!
MIK. Or not knowing – –
KO. No!
MIK. Or having no notion – –
MIK. Or not being there – –
MIK. There should be, of course – – KO., PITTI., and POOH. Yes!
MIK. But there isn‘t.
KO., PITTI., and POOH. Oh!
MIK. That‘s the slovenly way in which these Acts are always
drawn. However, cheer up, it‘ll be all right. I‘ll have it
altered next session. Now, let‘s see about your execution – will
after luncheon suit you? Can you wait till then?
KO., PITTI., and POOH. Oh, yes – we can wait till then!
MIK. Then we‘ll make it after luncheon.
POOH. I don‘t want any lunch.
MIK. I‘m really very sorry for you all, but it‘s an unjust
world, and virtue is triumphant only in theatrical performances.






MIK. See how the Fates their gifts allot,
For A is happy – B is not.
Yet B is worthy, I dare say,
Of more prosperity than A!
KO., POOH., and PITTI. Is B more worthy?
KAT. I should say
He‘s worth a great deal more than A.
ENSEMBLE: Yet A is happy!
Oh, so happy!
Laughing, Ha! ha!
Chaffing, Ha! ha!
Nectar quaffing, Ha! ha! ha!
Ever joyous, ever gay,
Happy, undeserving A!
KO., POOH., and PITTI. If I were Fortune – which I‘m not –
B should enjoy A‘s happy lot,
And A should die in miserie –
That is, assuming I am B.
MIK. and KAT. But should A perish?
KO., POOH., and PITTI. That should be
(Of course, assuming I am B).
B should be happy!
Oh, so happy!
Laughing, Ha! ha!
Chaffing, Ha! ha!
Nectar quaffing, Ha! ha! ha!
But condemned to die is he,
Wretched meritorious B!


[Exeunt Mikado and Katisha.


KO. Well, a nice mess you‘ve got us into, with your nodding
head and the deference due to a man of pedigree!
POOH. Merely corroborative detail, intended to give
artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing
PITTI. Corroborative detail indeed! Corroborative
KO. And you‘re just as bad as he is with your cock –
and-a-bull stories about catching his eye and his whistling an
air. But that‘s so like you! You must put in your oar!
POOH. But how about your big right arm?
PITTI. Yes, and your snickersnee!
KO. Well, well, never mind that now. There‘s only one
thing to be done. Nanki-Poo hasn‘t started yet – he must come to
life again at once. (Enter Nanki-Poo and Yum-Yum prepared for
journey.) Here he comes. Here, Nanki-Poo, I‘ve good news for
you – you‘re reprieved.
NANK. Oh, but it‘s too late. I‘m a dead man, and I‘m off
for my honeymoon.
KO. Nonsense! A terrible thing has just happened. It
seems you‘re the son of the Mikado.
NANK. Yes, but that happened some time ago.
KO. Is this a time for airy persiflage? Your father is
here, and with Katisha!
NANK. My father! And with Katisha!
KO. Yes, he wants you particularly.
POOH. So does she.
YUM. Oh, but he‘s married now.
KO. But, bless my heart! what has that to do with it?
NANK. Katisha claims me in marriage, but I can‘t marry her
because I‘m married already – consequently she will insist on my
execution, and if I‘m executed, my wife will have to be buried
YUM. You see our difficulty.
KO. Yes. I don‘t know what‘s to be done.
NANK. There‘s one chance for you. If you could persuade
Katisha to marry you, she would have no further claim on me, and
in that case I could come to life without any fear of being put
to death.
KO. I marry Katisha!
YUM. I really think it‘s the only course.
KO. But, my good girl, have you seen her? She‘s something
PITTI. Ah! that‘s only her face. She has a left elbow
which people come miles to see!
POOH. I am told that her right heel is much admired by
KO. My good sir, I decline to pin my heart upon any lady‘s
right heel.
NANK. It comes to this: While Katisha is single, I prefer
to be a disembodied spirit. When Katisha is married, existence
will be as welcome as the flowers in spring.






NANK. The flowers that bloom in the spring,
Tra la,
Breathe promise of merry sunshine –
As we merrily dance and we sing,
Tra la,
We welcome the hope that they bring,
Tra la,
Of a summer of roses and wine.
And that‘s what we mean when we say that a
Is welcome as flowers that bloom in the
Tra la la la la la, etc.


ALL. Tra la la la, etc.


KO. The flowers that bloom in the spring,
Tra la,
Have nothing to do with the case.
I‘ve got to take under my wing,
Tra la,
A most unattractive old thing,
Tra la,
With a caricature of a face
And that‘s what I mean when I say, or I sing,
„Oh, bother the flowers that bloom in the spring.“
Tra la la la la la, etc.


ALL. Tra la la la, Tra la la la, etc.


[Dance and exeunt Nanki-Poo, Yum-Yum, Pooh-Bah, Pitti-Sing, and Ko-Ko.


Enter Katisha.




Alone, and yet alive! Oh, sepulchre!
My soul is still my body‘s prisoner!
Remote the peace that Death alone can give –
My doom, to wait! my punishment, to live!




Hearts do not break!
They sting and ache
For old love‘s sake,
But do not die,
Though with each breath
They long for death
As witnesseth
The living I!
Oh, living I!
Come, tell me why,
When hope is gone,
Dost thou stay on?
Why linger here,
Where all is drear?
Oh, living I!
Come, tell me why,
When hope is gone,
Dost thou stay on?
May not a cheated maiden die?


KO. (entering and approaching her timidly). Katisha!
KAT. The miscreant who robbed me of my love! But vengeance
pursues – they are heating the cauldron!
KO. Katisha – behold a suppliant at your feet!
Katisha – mercy!
KAT. Mercy? Had you mercy on him? See here, you! You
have slain my love. He did not love me, but he would have loved
me in time. I am an acquired taste – only the educated palate can
appreciate me. I was educating his palate when he left me.
Well, he is dead, and where shall I find another? It takes years
to train a man to love me. Am I to go through the weary round
again, and, at the same time, implore mercy for you who robbed me
of my prey – I mean my pupil – just as his education was on the
point of completion? Oh, where shall I find another?
KO. (suddenly, and with great vehemence). Here! – Here!
KAT. What!!!
KO. (with intense passion). Katisha, for years I have
loved you with a white-hot passion that is slowly but surely
consuming my very vitals! Ah, shrink not from me! If there is
aught of woman‘s mercy in your heart, turn not away from a
love-sick suppliant whose every fibre thrills at your tiniest
touch! True it is that, under a poor mask of disgust, I have
endeavoured to conceal a passion whose inner fires are broiling
the soul within me! But the fire will not be smothered – it
defies all attempts at extinction, and, breaking forth, all the
more eagerly for its long restraint, it declares itself in words
that will not be weighed – that cannot be schooled – that should
not be too severely criticised. Katisha, I dare not hope for
your love – but I will not live without it! Darling!
KAT. You, whose hands still reek with the blood of my
betrothed, dare to address words of passion to the woman you have
so foully wronged!
KO. I do – accept my love, or I perish on the spot!
KAT. Go to! Who knows so well as I that no one ever yet
died of a broken heart!
KO. You know not what you say. Listen!




On a tree by a river a little tom-tit
Sang „Willow, titwillow, titwillow!“
And I said to him, „Dicky-bird, why do you sit
Singing Willow, titwillow, titwillow‘?“
„Is it weakness of intellect, birdie?“ I cried,
„Or a rather tough worm in your little inside?“
With a shake of his poor little head, he replied,
„Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow!“


He slapped at his chest, as he sat on that bough,
Singing „Willow, titwillow, titwillow!“
And a cold perspiration bespangled his brow,
Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow!
He sobbed and he sighed, and a gurgle he gave,
Then he plunged himself into the billowy wave,
And an echo arose from the suicide‘s grave –
„Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow!“


Now I feel just as sure as I‘m sure that my name
Isn‘t Willow, titwillow, titwillow,
That ‚twas blighted affection that made him exclaim
„Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow!“
And if you remain callous and obdurate, I
Shall perish as he did, and you will know why,
Though I probably shall not exclaim as I die,
„Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow!“


(During this song Katisha has been greatly affected, and at the
end is almost in tears.)


KAT. (whimpering). Did he really die of love?
KO. He really did.
KAT. All on account of a cruel little hen?
KO. Yes.
KAT. Poor little chap!
KO. It‘s an affecting tale, and quite true. I knew the
bird intimately.
KAT. Did you? He must have been very fond of her.
KO. His devotion was something extraordinary.
KAT. (still whimpering). Poor little chap! And – and if I
refuse you, will you go and do the same?
KO. At once.
KAT. No, no – you mustn‘t! Anything but that! (Falls on
his breast.) Oh, I‘m a silly little goose!
KO. (making a wry face). You are!
KAT. And you won‘t hate me because I‘m just a little teeny
weeny wee bit bloodthirsty, will you?
KO. Hate you? Oh, Katisha! is there not beauty even in
KAT. My idea exactly.




KAT. There is beauty in the bellow of the blast,
There is grandeur in the growling of the gale,
There is eloquent outpouring
When the lion is a-roaring,
And the tiger is a-lashing of his tail!
KO. Yes, I like to see a tiger
From the Congo or the Niger,
And especially when lashing of his tail!
KAT. Volcanoes have a splendor that is grim,
And earthquakes only terrify the dolts,
But to him who‘s scientific
There‘s nothing that‘s terrific
In the falling of a flight of thunderbolts!
KO. Yes, in spite of all my meekness,
If I have a little weakness,
It‘s a passion for a flight of thunderbolts!


BOTH. If that is so,
Sing derry down derry!
It‘s evident, very,
Our tastes are one.
Away we‘ll go,
And merrily marry,
Nor tardily tarry
Till day is done!


KO. There is beauty in extreme old age –
Do you fancy you are elderly enough?
Information I‘m requesting
On a subject interesting:
Is a maiden all the better when she‘s tough?
KAT. Throughout this wide dominion
It‘s the general opinion
That she‘ll last a good deal longer when she‘s


KO. Are you old enough to marry, do you think?
Won‘t you wait till you are eighty in the shade?
There‘s a fascination frantic
In a ruin that‘s romantic;
Do you think you are sufficiently decayed?
KAT. To the matter that you mention
I have given some attention,
And I think I am sufficiently decayed.


BOTH. If that is so,
Sing derry down derry!
It‘s evident, very,
Our tastes are one!
Away we‘ll go,
And merrily marry,
Nor tardily tarry
Till day is done!
[Exeunt together.


Flourish. Enter the Mikado, attended by Pish-Tush and Court.


MIK. Now then, we‘ve had a capital lunch, and we‘re quite
ready. Have all the painful preparations been made?
PISH. Your Majesty, all is prepared.
MIK. Then produce the unfortunate gentleman and his two
well-meaning but misguided accomplices.


Enter Ko-Ko, Katisha, Pooh-Bah, and Pitti-Sing. They throw themselves
at the Mikado‘s feet


KAT. Mercy! Mercy for Ko-Ko! Mercy for Pitti-Sing! Mercy
even for Pooh-Bah!
MIK. I beg your pardon, I don‘t think I quite caught that
POOH. Mercy even for Pooh-Bah.
KAT. Mercy! My husband that was to have been is dead, and
I have just married this miserable object.
MIK. Oh! You‘ve not been long about it!
KO. We were married before the Registrar.
POOH. I am the Registrar.
MIK. I see. But my difficulty is that, as you have slain
the Heir Apparent – –


Enter Nanki-Poo and Yum-Yum. They kneel.


NANK. The Heir Apparent is not slain.
MIK. Bless my heart, my son!
YUM. And your daughter-in-law elected!
KAT. (seizing Ko-Ko). Traitor, you have deceived me!
MIK. Yes, you are entitled to a little explanation, but I
think he will give it better whole than in pieces.
KO. Your Majesty, it‘s like this: It is true that I stated
that I had killed Nanki-Poo – –
MIK. Yes, with most affecting particulars.
POOH. Merely corroborative detail intended to give artistic
verisimilitude to a bald and – –
KO. Will you refrain from putting in your oar? (To
Mikado.) It‘s like this: When your Majesty says, „Let a thing be
done,“ it‘s as good as done – practically, it is done – because
your Majesty‘s will is law. Your Majesty says, „Kill a
gentleman,“ and a gentleman is told off to be killed.
Consequently, that gentleman is as good as dead – practically, he
is dead – and if he is dead, why not say so?
MIK. I see. Nothing could possibly be more satisfactory!




PITTI. For he‘s gone and married Yum-Yum –
ALL. Yum-Yum!
PITTI. Your anger pray bury,
For all will be merry,
I think you had better succumb –
ALL. Cumb – cumb.
PITTI. And join our expressions of glee!
KO. On this subject I pray you be dumb –
ALL. Dumb – dumb!
KO. Your notions, though many,
Are not worth a penny,
The word for your guidance is „Mum“ –
ALL. Mum – Mum!
KO. You‘ve a very good bargain in me.
ALL. On this subject we pray you be dumb –
Dumb – dumb!
We think you had better succumb –
Cumb – cumb!
You‘ll find there are many
Who‘ll wed for a penny,
There are lots of good fish in the sea.
YUM. and NANK. The threatened cloud has passed away,
And brightly shines the dawning day;
What though the night may come too soon,
We‘ve years and years of afternoon!
ALL. Then let the throng
Our joy advance,
With laughing song
And merry dance,
With joyous shout and ringing cheer,
Inaugurate our new career!
Then let the throng, etc.





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