Sonntag, 18. Dezember 2016

Harry Graham (8)

Eine Besserwisser-Beschimpfung aus »Familiar Faces«:

Harry Graham: The Man Who Knows

How few of us contrive to shine  
   In ordinary conversation  
As brightly as this human mine  
   Of universal information,  
Or give mankind the benefit  
Of such encyclopædic wit.
How few of us can lightly touch  
   On any topic one may mention  
With so much savoir-faire, or such  
   Exasperating condescension; 
Or take so lively a delight  
In setting other people right.
Whatever you may do or dream,  
   The Man Who Knows has dreamt or done it; 
If you propound some novel scheme, 
   The Man Who Knows has long begun it; 
Should you evolve a repartee, 
»I made that yesterday,« says he.
With what a supercilious air
   He listens to your newest story,  
As tho' your latest legend were  
   Some chestnut long of beard and hoary.  
»When I recount that yarn,« he'll say, 
»I end it in a diff'rent way.«
With a superior smile he caps  
   Your ev'ry statement with another,  
If you have lost your voice, perhaps,  
   He knows a man who's lost his mother; 
If you've a cold, 'tis not so bad  
As one that once his uncle had.
Should you describe some strange event  
   That happened to a near relation,—  
Some fatal motor accident, 
   Some droll or ticklish situation,—  
»In eighteen-eighty-eight,« says he,  
»The very same occurred to me.«
Each man who dies to him supplies  
   A peg on which to air his knowledge; 
»Poor So-and-So,« he sadly sighs,  
   »He shared a room with me at college. 
I knew his sister at Ostend.  
He was my father's dearest friend.«
If you relate some incident,  
   A trifle scandalous or shady,  
An anecdote you've heard anent  
   Some wealthy or distinguished lady, 
He stops you with a sudden sign:— 
»She is a relative of mine!«
When on some simple point of fact  
   You fancy him impaled securely, 
He either smiles with silent tact,  
   Or else he shakes his head obscurely,  
Suggesting that he might disclose  
Portentous secrets, if he chose.
But if you dare to doubt his word,  
   At once that puts him on his metal;  
»Your facts,« says he, »are quite absurd!  
   As for Mount Popocatepetl,—  
Of course it's not in Mexico; 
I've been there, and I ought to know!«
Or »George, how you exaggerate! 
   It isn't half-past seven, nearly! 
I make it seven-twenty-eight;  
   Your watch is out of order, clearly. 
Mine cannot possibly be slow;  
I set it half an hour ago.«
He knows a foreign health-resort  
   Where tourists are quite inoffensive;  
He knows a brand of ancient port,  
   Comparatively inexpensive;  
And he will tell you where to get  
The choicest Turkish cigarette.
He knows hotels at which to dine  
   And take the most fastidious guest to;  
He knows a mine in Argentine  
   In which you safely can invest, too;  
He knows the shop where you can buy  
The most recherché hat or tie.
If you require a motor-car, 
   He has a cousin who can tell you 
Of something second-hand but far  
   Less costly than the trade would sell you; 
And if you want a chauffeur, too, 
He knows the very man for you.
There's nothing that he doesn't know,  
   Except—a rather grave omission—  
How weary his relations grow  
   Of such unceasing erudition,—  
How fervently his fellows long  
That just for once he should be wrong.
O Man Who Knows, we humbly ask  
   That thou shouldst cease such grateful labours—  
Suspend thy self-inflicted task
   Of lecturing thine erring neighbours;  
For in thy knowledge we detect  
No faintest sign of Intellect.

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