Sine Qua Non

AFTER many baffled attempts at contributing to The Atlantic,— efforts through which the toiling aspirant discovered her rare ingenuity in achieving the “ unavailable,” — at last a versatile career of failure developed an altruistic spirit within her, and, as a warning and a guide to fellow un-immortals, she wrote the following verses :—


To all the yearning throng of scribes
Whose goal is The Atlantic,
I proffer this authentic list of obstacles gigantic,
Which loom upon that corduroy road, —
’T were well that you should con them ;
For, traveling that way myself,
I somehow stumbled on them !
Avoid the firecracker style,
Snap-flash-phittz ! — all is over !
Avoid the sanguinary charms of buccaneer and rover;
Avoid that trap for learned souls,
The erudite pedantic ;
Avoid the supernatural, the saccharine romantic.
Avoid the storiette ; likewise Hysteric lucubrations
Of spineless “ cults,” all purple words and thought attenuations;
Avoid slang monologues; avoid
“ Strong ” pessimistic novels;
Lay not unexpurgated stress on those who live in hovels.
Next, when the road winds free again,
Cull, as the day grows later,
These flowers: the mind of Emerson, the lyric prose of Pater,
The wit of Holmes, and Kipling’s grasp,
The virile strength of Browning ;
Will Shakespeare’s knowledge of mankind
The brilliant cluster crowning.
These gathered, bind them with the art
Best learned from France, and hasten
To lay them in that august hand which will applaud — or chasten.
Let hope illumine dark suspense,
Which, brief, yet makes one frantic —
At last’t is possible you may appear in The Atlantic !