by Ernest Armine Wodehouse (older brother of P. G. Wodehouse)

Punch, January 1, 1919


(Inspired by the exchange of Minutes in Government Departments.)

He was my friend—if friendship’s proof
 Be sympathy profound and sweet;
Eight months we toiled beneath one roof,
 Yet somehow never chanced to meet.

So near and yet so far! I own
 We may have passed upon the stair;
Yet, if we did, we passed unknown;
 No tremor told me he was there.

He knew not it was I. Alas!
 With such community of souls
That he and I should blindly pass
 And live as sundered as the poles!

For I, when darkness sealed my eyes,
 Would place my judgment in his hands,
Would ask him humbly to advise
 And yield myself to his commands;

Just hinting what my view might be
 (If asked) on this or that affair,
But never in undue degree
 And with a deprecating air.

And he, thus modestly addressed,
 Would wield an amicable pen
And say he thought my view was best
 In full nine cases out of ten.

And so in deep harmonious flood
 Our friendship flowed, and proved, I think,
Though water be less dense than blood,
 Yet blood is far less dense than ink.

  *   *   *   *   *

And now, when things are somewhat slow,
 My leisure moments I beguile
By reading o’er with heart aglow
 A certain old and dusty file—

One out of hundreds, kept to prove
 A truth the world may oft forget,
That there can live pure trust and love
 ’Twixt persons who have never met.

Oh, sweet the trill of mating larks!
 But sweeter, sweeter, I aver,
That soft appeal—“For your remarks,”
 That gentle answer—“We concur.”




Unsigned poem as printed; credited to E. A. Wodehouse in the Index to Vol. 156 of Punch.

Ernest Armine Wodehouse (1879–1936) was two years older than P.G.W., and preceded him with great academic success at prep schools and at Dulwich; he got the chance of an Oxford education which was denied to P.G.W. Later, in India, he became a Theosophist, prompting the many joking references to this form of mysticism in Wodehouse’s fiction.

This page previously credited this poem erroneously to P. G. Wodehouse; apologies for any confusion we caused.