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A Pessimistic View

A little bit of Thackeray,
A little bit of Scott,
A modicum of Dickens just
To tangle up the plot,
A paraphrase of Marryat,
Another from Dumas—
You ask me for a novel, sir,
And I say, there you are.

The pen is greater than the sword,
Of that there is no doubt.
The pen for me whene’er I wish
An enemy to rout.
A pen, a pad, and say a pint
Of ink with which to scrawl,
To put a foe to flight is all
That’s needed—truly all.

But when it comes to making up
A novel in these days
You do not need a pen at all
To win the writer’s bays.
A pair of sharpened scissors and
A wealth of pure white page
Will do it if you have at hand
A pot of mucilage.

So give to me the scissors keen,
And give to me the glue,
And I will fix a novel up
That’s sure to startle you.
The good ideas have all been worked,
But while we’ve gum and paste
There shall be books and books and books
To please the public taste.


John Kendrick Bangs