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PAGE 3

Hay Febrifuge
by [?]

The trouble with Mr. Lee is that he is a kind of Emerson; a constitutional ascete or Brahmin, battling with the staggering voluptuosities of his word-sense; a De Quincey needing no opium to set him swooning. In fact, he is a poet, and has no control over his thoughts. A poet may begin by thinking about a tortoise, or a locomotive, or a piece of sirloin, and in one whisk of Time his mind has shot up to the conceptions of Eternity, Transportation, and Nourishment: his cortex coruscates and suppurates with abstract thought; words assail him in hordes, and in a flash he is down among them, overborne and fighting for his life. Mr. Lee finds that millionaires are bound down and tethered and stifled by their limousines and coupons and factories and vast estates. But Mr. Lee himself, who is a millionaire and landed proprietor of ideas, is equally the slave of his thronging words. They cluster about him like barnacles, nobly and picturesquely impeding his progress. He is a Laocoon wrestling with serpentine sentences. He ought to be confined to an eight-hour paragraph.

All this is not so by the way as you think. For if the poet is one who has lost control of his thoughts, the hay fever sufferer has lost control of his nose. His mucous membrane acts like a packet of Roman candles, and who is he to say it nay? And our village is bounded on the north by goldenrod, on the south by ragweed, on the east by chickweed, and on the west by a sleepless night.

I would fain treat pollinosis in the way Mr. Lee might discuss it, but that is impossible. Those prolate, sagging spirals of thought, those grapevine twists of irremediable whim, that mind shimmering like a poplar tree in sun and wind–jetting and spouting like plumbing after a freeze-up–’tis beyond me. I fancy that if Mr. Lee were in bed, and the sheets were untucked at his feet, he could spin himself so iridescent and dove-throated and opaline a philosophy of the desirability of sleeping with cold feet, that either (1) he would not need to get out of bed to rearrange the bedclothes, or (2) he could persuade someone else to do it for him. Think, then, what he could do for hay fever!

And as Dr. Crothers said, when you mix what you think with what you think you think, effervescence of that kind always results.