"For first you write a sentence, And then you chop it small; Then mix the bits, and sort them out Just as they chance to fall: The order of the phrases makes No difference at all.
'Then, if you'd be impressive, Remember what I say, That abstract qualities begin With capitals alway: The True, the Good, the Beautiful - Those are the things that pay!
"Next, when you are describing A shape, or sound, or tint; Don't state the matter plainly, But put it in a hint; And learn to look at all things With a sort of mental squint."
"For instance, if I wished, Sir, Of mutton-pies to tell, Should I say 'dreams of fleecy flocks Pent in a wheaten cell'?" "Why, yes," the old man said: "that phrase Would answer very well.
"Then fourthly, there are epithets That suit with any word - As well as Harvey's Reading Sauce With fish, or flesh, or bird - Of these, 'wild,' 'lonely,' 'weary,' 'strange,' Are much to be preferred."
"And will it do, O will it do To take them in a lump - As 'the wild man went his weary way To a strange and lonely pump'?" "Nay, nay! You must not hastily To such conclusions jump.
"Such epithets, like pepper, Give zest to what you write; And, if you strew them sparely, They whet the appetite: But if you lay them on too thick, You spoil the matter quite!
"Last, as to the arrangement: Your reader, you should show him, Must take what information he Can get, and look for no im- mature disclosure of the drift And purpose of your poem.
"Therefore, to test his patience - How much he can endure - Mention no places, names, or dates, And evermore be sure Throughout the poem to be found Consistently obscure.
"First fix upon the limit To which it shall extend: Then fill it up with 'Padding' (Beg some of any friend): Your great SENSATION-STANZA You place towards the end."
"And what is a Sensation, Grandfather, tell me, pray? I think I never heard the word So used before to-day: Be kind enough to mention one 'Exempli gratia.'"
And the old man, looking sadly Across the garden-lawn, Where here and there a dew-drop Yet glittered in the dawn, Said "Go to the Adelphi, And see the 'Colleen Bawn.'
'The word is due to Boucicault - The theory is his, Where Life becomes a Spasm, And History a Whiz: If that is not Sensation, I don't know what it is.
"Now try your hand, ere Fancy Have lost its present glow--" "And then," his grandson added, "We'll publish it, you know: Green cloth--gold-lettered at the back - In duodecimo!"
Then proudly smiled that old man To see the eager lad Rush madly for his pen and ink And for his blotting-pad - But, when he thought of PUBLISHING, His face grew stern and sad.
SIZE AND TEARS
When on the sandy shore I sit, Beside the salt sea-wave, And fall into a weeping fit Because I dare not shave - A little whisper at my ear Enquires the reason of my fear.
I answer "If that ruffian Jones Should recognise me here, He'd bellow out my name in tones Offensive to the ear: He chaffs me so on being stout (A thing that always puts me out)."
Ah me! I see him on the cliff! Farewell, farewell to hope, If he should look this way, and if He's got his telescope! To whatsoever place I flee, My odious rival follows me!
For every night, and everywhere, I meet him out at dinner; And when I've found some charming fair, And vowed to die or win her, The wretch (he's thin and I am stout) Is sure to come and cut me out!
The girls (just like them!) all agree To praise J. Jones, Esquire: I ask them what on earth they see About him to admire? They cry "He is so sleek and slim, It's quite a treat to look at him!"
They vanish in tobacco smoke, Those visionary maids - I feel a sharp and sudden poke Between the shoulder-blades - "Why, Brown, my boy! Your growing stout!" (I told you he would find me out!)
"My growth is not YOUR business, Sir!" "No more it is, my boy! But if it's YOURS, as I infer, Why, Brown, I give you joy! A man, whose business prospers so, Is just the sort of man to know!
"It's hardly safe, though, talking here - I'd best get out of reach: For such a weight as yours, I fear, Must shortly sink the beach!" - Insult me thus because I'm stout! I vow I'll go and call him out!
ATALANTA IN CAMDEN-TOWN
Ay, 'twas here, on this spot, In that summer of yore, Atalanta did not Vote my presence a bore, Nor reply to my tenderest talk "She had heard all that nonsense before."
She'd the brooch I had bought And the necklace and sash on, And her heart, as I thought, Was alive to my passion; And she'd done up her hair in the style that the Empress had brought into fashion.