To W. Hohenzollern, on Discontinuing The Conning Tower
William, it was, I think, three years ago--
As I recall, one cool October morning--
(You have The Tribune files; I think they'll show
I gave you warning).
I said, in well-selected words and terse,
In phrases balanced, yet replete with power,
That I should cease to pen the prose and verse
Known as The Tower
That I should stop this Labyrinth of Light--
Though stopping make the planet leaden-hearted--
Unless you stop the well-known Schrecklichkeit
Your nation started.
I printed it in type that you could read;
My paragraphs were thewed, my rhymes were sinewed.
You paid, I judge from what ensued, no heed . . .
The war continued.
And though my lines with fortitude were fraught,
Although my words were strong, and stripped of stuffing,
You, William, thought--oh, yes, you did--you thought
That I was bluffing.
You thought that I would fail to see it through!
You thought that, at the crux of things, I'd cower!
How little, how imperfectly you knew
The Conning Tower!
You'll miss the column at the break of day.
I have no fear that I shall be forgotten.
You'll miss the daily privilege to say:
"That stuff is rotten!"
Or else--as sometimes has occured--when I
Have chanced upon a lucky line to blunder,
You'll miss the precious privilege to cry:
"That bird's a wonder!"
Well, William, when your people cease to strafe,
When you have put an end to all this war stuff,
When all the world is reasonably safe,
I'll write some more stuff.
And when you miss the quip and wanton wile,
And learn you can't endure the Towerless season,
O William, I shall not be petty . . . I'll
Listen to reason.
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