A Song of Fives

"A Song of Fives" was written by AC Ainger, a Master at Eton from 1864-91 and a champion player. Music by J Barnby.

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Verse 1

Smooth and square and dry the wall;
White, elastic, round, the ball;
Two on that side, two on this;
Two hands each to hit or miss-
.....Two hands each to hit or miss,
What more need we to possess,
Two good hours of happiness?
.....What more need, &c.

Verse 2

Send the service slow and high;
Hold your tongue and mind your eye;
Turn and twist, and duck and dance;
Volley, when you see your chance-;
.....Volley, when you see your chance
Hit them hard, and hit them low;
Thus your score will upwards go!
.....Hit them hard, &c.

Verse 3

Aces after aces get;
Shun the unprogressive let;
Slowly, surely onward crawl;
Set the game at 'fourteen all'-;
.....Set the game at 'fourteen all'!
Blackguards gain not honour, but
Honour gain by 'blackguard cut'!
.....Blackguards gain, &c.

Verse 4

From the moment you begin;
Do your level best to win;
Cheer your partner; wipe your shoes;
Keep your temper, win or lose-
.....Keep your temper, win or lose.
If you miss it, don't be vexed;
Badly this time-better next!
.....If you miss it, &c.

Verse 5

Oft you'll think, in after lives;
What is life?-a game at Fives;
Partners to their partners true;
Courteous to their rivals, too-
.....Courteous to their rivals, too.
Here and there alike the aim
In the end to win the game!
.....Here and there, &c.

Verse 6

Oft in life you'll meet with knocks
'Gainst a harder pepper-box;
Fingers scraped and fingers bruised;
Ball and player roughly used-
.....Ball and player roughly used.
Till 'cut down,' or slow or fast,
Into 'dead man's hole' at last!
.....Till 'cut down,' &c.

Verse 7

So let Fives its lessons teach;
Hit all balls within your reach;
If you fail for want of pluck,
Don't abuse your rival's luck-
.....Don't abuse your rival's luck!
Everyone can win who tries,
For the struggle is the prize.
.....Everyone can win, &c.