Oh, Please Do Read It

by Gary Lehmann

WHEN Charles Algernon Swinburne entered a drawing room
everyone automatically knew that he was a poet by his exaggerated
manners and the fact that he cleverly placed an oversized sheaf
of poems in his breast pocket where it could not be missed.

Demurely he sat, at first, to catch the tail end of conversation,
until someone, noticing at last his bulging pocket, said,
''Oh, please do read it.'' This was all the goading the poet needed.

With a joy all too evident, he jumped from his seat and began
reading from something brand new and deliciously scandalous.
Jumping about nervously and wildly gesticulating, he punctuated
each inuendo and jibe, dwelling on the juicy parts for maximum affect.
Enthusiastic at first, the audience usually tired of this show before he did,
but he appeared not to notice. He just knew his joy in verse was infectious.
He turned as they tried to escape and cried out, ''Wait, I have another . . .''

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