The Stately Homes of England             Noël Coward, 1938

[Short introduction by Noël Coward: In “Operette” at His Majesty’s Theatre London in 1938, four elegant young gentlemen sauntered onto the stage in deep evening dress and top hats and capes and scarves. They represented the cynical, the cheerful aristocracy of the early 1900s. I must now ask your indulgence while I transform myself into this impeccable quartet: The Stately Homes of England.]

Verse 1                                                                                                                                         X sound: Noel Coward,The Stately Homes of England.mp3

Lord Elderley, Lord Borrowmere,
Lord Sickert and Lord Camp,
With every virtue, every grace,                                  
Ah, what avails the sceptred race.                                     to avail: nützen, fördern, helfen        "this sceptred isle": famous quotation!
Here you see the four of us,
And there are so many more of us
Eldest sons that must succeed.
We know how Caesar conquered Gaul
And how to whack a cricket ball;                                      to whack: schlagen, hauen, dreschen
Apart from this, our education lacks co-ordination.
Though we're young and tentative                                      tentative: vorsichtig, zögernd, vorläufig
And rather rip-representative,
Scions of a noble breed,                                                    scion: Sprössling, Spross, Nachfahre
We are the products of those homes serene and stately      serene: heiter, gelassen, klar
Which only lately
Seem to have run to seed!                                                  to run to seed: herunterkommen, verwahrlosen

Refrain 1

The Stately Homes of England,
How beautiful they stand,
To prove the upper classes
Have still the upper hand;
Though the fact that they have to be rebuilt
And frequently mortgaged to the hilt                             to mortgage: mit einer Hypothek belasten
Is inclined to take the gilt                                              to the hilt: bis zum Äußersten, “bis zum Anschlag”
Off the gingerbread,                   (to take the gilt off the gingerbread: [etwa] der Sache ihren Reiz nehmen)
And certainly damps the fun
Of the eldest son
But still we won't be beaten,
We'll scrimp and scrape and save,                                 to scrimp: sparen, knausern
The playing fields of Eton                                              the playing fields of Eton: The Duke of Wellington is said to have
Have made us frightfully brave                                      said that "the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of
And though if the Van Dycks have to go                       Eton". (Allegedly, Churchill said the same of the First World War.)  
And we pawn the Bechstein Grand,                              to pawn: versetzen, verpfänden
We'll stand                                                                   Bechstein Grand (piano): Konzertflügel
By the Stately Homes of England.

 Refrain 2

The Stately Homes of England
We proudly represent,
We only keep them up for
Americans to rent,
Though the pipes that supply the bathroom burst
And the lavat’ry makes you fear the worst,                     lavatory: Toilette (nicht “Waschraum”!)
It was used by Charles the First
Quite informally,
And later by George the Fourth                                      George IV: 1762 - 1830
On a journey North.
The State Apartments keep their
Historical renown,                                                          renown: Ansehen, Ruf, Ruhm
It's wiser not to sleep there
In case they tumble down                                               to tumble down: niederstürzen
But still if they ever catch on fire
Which, with any luck, they might
We'll fight
For the Stately Homes of England

Verse 2

Here you see
The pick of us,                                                                     the pick of: die Besten, die Elite (~“Spitzenauswahl”)
You may be heartily sick of us,
Still with sense
We're all imbued.                                                                 to be imbued: durchtränkt sein, "inspiriert sein
Our homes command extensive views
And with assistance from the Jews
We have been able to dispose of                                          to dispose of: sich (einer Sache) entledigen, (etwas) abstoßen 
Rows and rows and rows of
Gainsboroughs and Lawrences,                              Thomas Gainborough, Thomas Lawrence: famous painters
Some sporting prints of Aunt Florence's,
Some of which were rather rude.
Although we sometimes flaunt our family conventions,            to flaunt: zur Schau stellen, protzen mit
Our good intentions
Mustn't be misconstrued.                                                      to misconstrue: fehl/missdeuten, falsch auslegen

Refrain 3

The Stately Homes of England,
Though rather in the lurch,                                                     in the lurch: (etwa) in Schwierigkeiten
Provide a lot of chances
For psychical research-
There's the ghost of a crazy younger son
Who murdered, in fourteen fifty-one,
An extremely rowdy nun
Who resented it,
Now people who come to call
Meet her in the hall.
The baby in the guest wing,
Who crouches by the grate,                                         to crouch: kauern, sich zusammen/niederkauern
Was walled up in the west wing                                   grate: Gitter, Rost, Kaminrost
In Fifteen Forty-Eight.
If anyone spots                                                            to spot: wahrnehmen, erblicken, sichten, herausfinden
The Queen of Scots                                                    "the Queen of Scots": Mary I or Mary, Queen of Scots (1542 - 1587)
In a hand-embroidered shroud,
We're proud
Of the Stately Homes of England.

Refrain 4

The Stately Homes of England,
Although a trifle bleak,                                                       a trifle = a bit                 bleak: düster, freudlos, kahl, öde
Historically speaking,
Are more or less unique.
We've a cousin who won the Golden Fleece
And a very peculiar fowling-piece                                      fowling piece: Vogelflinte [so now you know!]
Which was sent to Cromwell's niece,
Who detested it,
And rapidly sent it back
With a dirty crack.                                                             dirty crack: PUN!
A note we have from Chaucer
Contains a bawdy joke.                                                     bawdy: derb, anzüglich, unflätig
We also have a saucer
That Bloody Mary broke.                                                  Bloody Mary: nickname of  Mary I of England, also known as Mary Tudor (1516 -1558)
We've two pairs of tights                                                    tights: Strumpfhose
King Arthur's Knights
Had completely worn away.
Sing Hey!
For the Stately Homes of England.

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