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 The Greatest Writer of to-day
(With Maupassant I almost set him)
Said to me in a weary way,
The last occasion that I met him:
"Old chap, this world is more and more
Becoming bourgeois, blasé, blousy:
Thank God I've lived so long before
It got so definitely lousy.
" Said I: "Old chap, I don't agree.
Why should one so dispraise the present? For gainful guys like you and me, It still can be extremely pleasant.
Have we not Women, Wine and Song - A gleeful trio to my thinking; So blithely we can get along With laughing, loving, eating, drinking.
" Said he: "Dear Boy, it may be so, But I'm fed up with war and worry; I would escape this world of woe, Of wrath and wrong, of hate and hurry.
I fain would gain the peace of mind Of Lamas on Thibetan highlands, Or maybe sanctuary find With beach-combers on coral islands.
" Said I: "Dear Boy, don't go so far: Just live a life of simple being; Forgetting all the ills that are, Be satisfied with hearing, seeing.
The sense of smell and taste and touch Can bring you bliss in ample measure: If only you don't think too much, Your programme can be packed with pleasure.
"But do not try to probe below This fairy film of Nature's screening; Look on it as a surface show, Without a purpose of a meaning.
Take no account of social strife, And dread no coming cataclysm: Let your philosophy of life Be what I call: EXTERNALISM.
The moon shines down with borrowed light, So savants say - I do not doubt it.
Suffice its silver trance my sight, That's all I want to know about it.
A fig for science - 'how' and 'why' Distract me in my happy dreaming: Through line and form and colour I Am all content with outward seeming.
" The Greatest Writer of to-day (I would have loved to call him Willie), looked wry at me and went his way - I think he thought me rather silly.
Maybe I am, but I insist My point of view will take some beating: Don't mock this old Externalist - The pudding's proof is in the eating.

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