Lapsus Calami (Apr 1891)/To A. T. M.

Lapsus Calami  (1891)  by J.K.S.
Sincere Flattery of F. W. H. M.: To A. T. M.

A parody of Frederic W. H. Myers, first published as "Telepathy" in The Reflector, 22 January 1888, and later included in the "Sincere Flattery" section of Lapsus Calami. Myers was a founder of the Society for Psychical Research and the coiner of the word telepathy. The reference here is to experiments in which a subject would undergo an experience to see whether a psychic in a neighboring room could pick it up through some form of extrasensory perception. In this case taste is presumably being tested, and the subject (Arthur Thomas Myers, the poet’s younger brother and a well-known physician, known as "The K" to family and friends) sucks a peppermint to see whether a telepathist in another room could detect what he was tasting. Another Myers parody is To One Smoking.

2. To A. T. M.

See where the K., in sturdy self-reliance,
Thoughtful and placid as a brooding dove,
Stands, firmly sucking, in the cause of science,
Just such a peppermint as schoolboys love.

Suck, placid K.: the world will be thy debtor;
Though thine eyes water and thine heart grow faint,
Suck: and the less thou likest it the better;
Suck for our sake, and utter no complaint.

Near thee a being, passionate and gentle,
Man's latest teacher, wisdom’s pioneer,
Calmly majestically monumental,
Stands: the august Telepathist is here.

Waves of perception, subtle emanations,
Thrill through the ether, circulate amain;
Delicate soft impalpable sensations,
Born of thy palate, quiver in his brain.

Lo! with a voice unspeakably dramatic,
Lo! with a gesture singularly fine,
He makes at last a lucid and emphatic
Statement of what is in that mouth of thine.

He could detect that peppermint’s existence,
He read its nature in the book of doom;
Standing at some considerable distance;
Standing, in fact, in quite another room.

Was there a faint impenetrable essence
Wafted towards him from the sucking K.?
Did some pale ghost inform him of its presence?
Or did it happen in some other way?

These are the questions nobody can answer,
These are the problems nobody can solve;
Only we know that Man is an Advancer:
Only we know the Centuries revolve.

Reflector, Jan., 1888.