Pearson’s Magazine (UK), July 1907
The experiment of the Newcastle clergyman who preached a sermon recently in verse proved eminently successful, and will doubtless be imitated by other divines. Why should not this lead to the adoption of verse as a medium for all those who have messages to deliver to their fellows? I append a few samples which will show you the general idea; and I should like to add that I am prepared to supply lyrics at reasonable rates to all who may need them in their profession.
Let us imagine a doctor in the delicate position of having to break to a patient the fact that he has influenza. Prose must always be abrupt and unsatisfactory; but the following stanzas would soothe the most nervous:
As on your pulse my finger stayed,
Said I to myself, said I,
“It’s influenza, I’m much afraid,”
(Said I to myself, said I).
“You complained of aches in the back and head:
Much evidence, too, from your tongue I read,
This man must pop straight off to bed,”
Said I to myself, said I.
If this did not cheer the patient up, nothing would. Editors rejecting poems will find this form useful:
Send me no more. Why waste your time and mine?
Though, since you ask me, certainly we do
Use outside contributions, it is true;
Yours, to be candid, are not in our line.
Send me no more.
Send me no more. You say that you support
A wife and sixteen children by your pen.
Dear Sir, you have my sympathy. But, then,
Does that improve lines several feet too short?
Send me no more.
Send me no more. (But, if you should, I hope
Our printed notice you will not ignore,
As you have done so many times before,
But will inclose a long, stamped envelope.)
P.S.—Send me no more.
The cricket season is approaching. Umpires would do well to couch their decisions somewhat after this style:
When I first put this white coat on,
I vowed I would act on the square,
And always be guided
In what I decided
By what was right and fair.
If I ever had any doubt
As to whether a man was out,
No fieldsman should make me
Nervous, or shake me,
However loud he might shout.
This point I’d decided upon
When I first put my white coat on.
I said, as I stood by the crease,
“If he’s out, well, I won’t say in.
My acts shall not savour
Of fear or of favour;
And may the best side win!”
And you, Sir, I’d have you know
(Prepare yourself for a blow),
Are caught at the wicket;
(I heard you snick it),
So back you will kindly go.
(This tone I’d decided upon
When I first put my white coat on.)
These, which are merely samples, will give you some idea of what I mean.
The form of the first poem recalls the Lord Chancellor’s song “When I went to the Bar as a very young man” from Gilbert & Sullivan’s Iolanthe; the last poem recalls “When I first put this uniform on” from Patience. Unusually for Wodehouse’s parodies, neither fits the original music precisely.