The Ballad of Keith Arnold

This ballad is homage to Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales.
The hapless Keith enters the world of W. S. Gilbert's The Mikado.

Keith Arnold, who, as I've been told,
Was courteous, clever, strong, and bold,
And proud to be an American,
Set off one summer for Japan
To meet the dreaded Honinbo,
And play with him a game of go.
For he believed he was the best
Of all go players in the West,
And thought that he could beat with ease
The champion of the Japanese,
(Indeed of all the Orient)
And therefore to Japan he went.
On board a steam ship, Tokyo bound,
Our hero very soon is found,
And oft, as he stood by the rail,
He scanned the seas the ship did sail,
And noted, with his eyes so keen,
That some were dirty, some were clean.
This fact concerned him not a whit.
At once, he had forgotten it.
At Tokyo Bay he went ashore,
And knocked upon Honinbo's door,
And challenged him to play the game
At which he'd won his worldwide fame.
Honinbo said,"We cannot play
Unless the Shogun says OK."
The Shogun soon gave his decision.
"You must play your competition
In my presence; so that I
May watch the gaijin's groups all die!"
The stones and board were soon brought in,
And down they squatted to begin.
At first they played with equal skill
Nor yet could either player kill
One stone, however he might try.
But slowly, as the hours passed by,
Did Keith allow his mind to wander.
(Oh how foolish thus to squander
Precious minutes!) and to think
About what he'd seen of the drink,
(This latter term, be not confused,
Is frequently by sailors used
In reference to the sea) and fret
About a problem unsolved yet.
For, as I mentioned, he had seen
Some seas were dirty, some were clean.
Then were the shores washed by these seas
As dirty, and as clean as these?
And with his thoughts thus seaward bent
He happened, quite by accident,
To place a stone upon a square.
But when the Shogun saw it there,
Great was his ire, (for, as you know,
According to the rules of go,
The chief of all courtesies
Is playing on the vertices).
"Take him away", the Shogun said,
"Boil him in oil! Cut off his head!"
(Though, like all courteous Japanese,
He prefaced this with, "if you please.")
The waiting samurai obey
The Shogun's words, with no delay.
Thus this young man, by no one hated,
Ends his life decapitated,
After very thorough boiling,
And, a fortiori, oiling.
Such mishaps would not occur
If all the young go players were
To write these words above their beds,
And always keep them in their heads:
"The shores are washed by clean and dirty seas,
But never you mind! Just play on the vertices."