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A Ballad of Abbreviations

Gilbert Keith Chesterton 1874 (Kensington, London) – 1936 (Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire)

The American's a hustler, for he says so,
  And surely the American must know.
He will prove to you with figures why it pays so
  Beginning with his boyhood long ago.
When the slow-maturing anecdote is ripest,
  He'll dictate it like a Board of Trade Report,
And because he has no time to call a typist,
  He calls her a Stenographer for short.

He is never known to loiter or malinger,
  He rushes, for he knows he has 'a date' ;
He is always on the spot and full of ginger,
  Which is why he is invariably late.
When he guesses that it's getting even later,
  His vocabulary's vehement and swift,
And he yells for what he calls the Elevator,
  A slang abbreviation for a lift.

Then nothing can be nattier or nicer
  For those who like a light and rapid style.
Than to trifle with a work of Mr Dreiser
  As it comes along in waggons by the mile.
He has taught us what a swift selective art meant
  By description of his dinners and all that,
And his dwelling, which he says is an Apartment,
  Because he cannot stop to say a flat.

We may whisper of his wild precipitation,
  That it's speed in rather longer than a span,
But there really is a definite occasion
  When he does not use the longest word he can.
When he substitutes, I freely make admission,
  One shorter and much easier to spell ;
If you ask him what he thinks of Prohibition,
  He may tell you quite succinctly it is Hell.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Gilbert Keith Chesterton was an influential English writer of the early 20th century His diverse output included journalism philosophy poetry biography Christian apologetics fantasy and detective fiction Gilbert Keith Chesterton KC*SG was an English writer, philosopher, lay theologian, and literary and art critic. He has been referred to as the "prince of paradox". Time magazine observed of his writing style: "Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories—first carefully turning them inside out." more…

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