Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Poetry Club
by [?]

During one of my terms at G– (and in speaking of that famous old school it is quite unnecessary to mention more than the first letter of its name) a serious epidemic broke out. It affected chiefly the lower half of the upper school, and during the brief period of its duration it assumed so malignant a type that it is still a marvel to me how any one of its victims ever survived it. The medical and other authorities were utterly incompetent to deal with it. In fact–incredible as it may seem–they deliberately ignored its existence, and left the sufferers to pull through as and how they could. Had it been an ordinary outbreak, as, for instance, scarlatina or diphtheria, or even measles, they would have cleared the school between two “call-overs,” and had us all either in the infirmary or in four-wheelers at our parents’ doors. But just because they had not got this–the most destructive kind of all epidemics–down on their list of infectious disorders, they chose to disregard it utterly, and leave us all to sink or swim, without even calling in the doctor to see us or giving our people at home the option of withdrawing us from our infected surroundings.

I love the old place too well to dwell further on this gross case of neglect. The present authorities no doubt would not repeat the error of their predecessors. Should they be tempted to do so, I trust the present harrowing revelation may be in time to avert the repetition of the calamity of which I was not only a witness but a victim.

The fact is, in the term to which I allude, we fellows in the upper Fifth and lower Sixth took to writing poetry! I don’t know how the distemper broke out, or who brought it to G–. Certain it is we all took it, some worse than others; and had not the Christmas holidays happily intervened to scatter us and so reduce the perils of the contagion, the results might have been worse even than they were.

Now, one poet in a school is bad enough; and two usually make a place very uncomfortable for any ordinarily constituted person. But at G– it was not a case of one poet or even two. There were twenty of us, if there was one, and we each of us considered our claim to the laurel wreath paramount. Indeed, like the bards of old, we fell to the most unseemly contentions, and hated one another as only poets can hate.

It was my tragic lot to act as hon. secretary to the “Poetry Club,” which constituted the hospital, so to speak in which our disease worked out its course during that melancholy term. Why they selected me, it is not for me to inquire. Some of my friends assured me afterwards that it was because, having no pretensions or even capacity to be a poet myself, I was looked upon as the only impartial member of our afflicted fraternity. No doubt they thought it a good reason. Had I known it at the time I should have repudiated the base insinuation with scorn. For I humbly conceived that I was a poet of the first water; and had indeed corrected a great many mistakes in Wordsworth and other writers, and written fifty-six or fifty-seven sonnets before ever the club was thought of. And Stray himself, who was accounted our Laureate, had only written thirty-four, and they averaged quite a line less than mine!

Be that as it may, I was secretary of the club, and to that circumstance the reader is indebted for the treat to which I am about to admit him. For in my official capacity I became custodian of not a few of the poetical aspirations of our members; and as, after the abatement of the disease, they none of them demanded back their handiwork–if poetry can ever be called handiwork–these effusions have remained in my charge ever since.