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reprinted from Putnam's, 3: 336. December 1907.

This is to objurgate that infesting modern microbe,
The picture postal,—
Whether in simple black and white, or in colors stirring the fire-alarm.—
Variously representing danseuse, Alpine scenery, smug-faced acquaintance,
Paintings from the old masters, or Brooklyn Bridge,—
Amusing, doubtless, to the postman,
And precious to the asinine collector,
Assembling them in fat and fancy albums,
To be pitilessly inflicted on the squirming casual caller,—
But to those who look for veritable communication, a mockery,
A flippant grin in place of real interchange of thought.

O gracile Spirit of the Cultured Pen,
Who didst inspire those historic epistles,
Long, leisurely and lovable, of Madame de Sévigné,—
The courtly effusions of the elegant Chesterfield,—
The frank and fascinating correspondence of Stevenson,—
How art thou, with thy dignity of phrase and airy charm of quaint conceit,
Completely snowed under!

Think you that the Brownings, Robert and Elizabeth,
Had they lived at the present day,
Would have written those letters, passionate, prolonged,
Laden with love, glittering with Greek,
Riotous with references culled from the classics,
Crowded with casuistry and laments for the languorous lost lap-dog?—
Nay,—but a picture-postal of Thames Embankment would say—very squeezed as to writing:—
"Dear E.—Finished 'Sordello'. Done up. Can't come until Monday. Aff'ly, Robert."
Her reply, in the lee of a hotel at Margate, scalloped with sea-foam,—
"That's tough, Bobby love, —but till death I'm y'rs,—Liza."

Hark! As I write, a sinister knock interrupts me,—
Seven of the highly-colored horrors are left at my door, From Warsaw, Oshkosh, Tokio, Hoboken, Mt. Blanc, Ceylon and Quogue, L. I.
Yet when last seen, their senders seemed sane and kind.
The scalding tear of outraged friendship spatters on their luridities.
Thank Heaven, I have an open fire!




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