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The Love Sonnets of a Car Conductor   By: (1876-1959)

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This eBook was produced by David Schwan .

The Love Sonnets of a Car Conductor

By Wallace Irwin

Author of The Love Sonnets of a Hoodlum The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, Junior Etc.

With a harmless and instructive Introduction by Wolfgang Copernicus Addleburger

Professor of Literary Bi Products University of Monte Carlo

Muse of my native land, am I inspir'd? Keats.

Paul Elder & Company San Francisco and New York

Mark what I say! Attend me where I wheel! Troilus and Cressida.

Copyright, 1908 by Paul Elder and Company


Science may conquer the stars, but it does nothing by jumps. As a Scientist, as well as a philosopher, I am accustomed to reaching the Transcendental by winding paths. It is characteristic of me that I should have consented to preface this remarkable Sonnet Cycle only after supreme deliberation, and that I should at last have determined to speak in behalf of the Car Conductor for the following reasons:

1. As a Botanist I am fascinated by the phenomenon of Genius flourishing from bud to flower, from flower to seed.

2. As a Psychologist I am anxious to establish once and for all, both by plano inductive and precoordinate systems of logic, the Status of Slang.

What position does Slang occupy in the thought of the world? Let us turn to Zoology for an answer.

No traces of Slang may be found among mollusks, crustaceans or the lower invertebrates. Slang is not common to vertebrate fishes or to whales, seals, reptiles or anthropoid apes in a word, slang speaking is nowhere prevalent among lower animals. It may, then, be definitely and clearly asserted that Slang is the natural, logical expression of the Human Race. If Man, then, is the highest of created mammals, is not his natural speech (Slang) the highest of created languages? It is generally conceded that Literature is the most exalted expression of Language. Would not the Literature, then, which employs the highest of created languages (Slang) be the supreme Literature of the world?

By such logical, irrefutable, inductive steps have I proven not only the Status of Slang, but the literary importance of these Sonnets which it is at once my scientific duty and my esthetic pleasure to introduce.

The twenty six exquisite Sonnets which form this Cycle were written, probably, during the years 1906 and 1907. Their author was William Henry Smith, a car conductor, who penned his passion, from time to time, on the back of transfer slips which he treasured carefully in his hat[1]. We have it from no less an authority than Professor Sznuysko that the Car Conductor usually performed these literary feats in public, writing between fares on the rear platform of a Sixth Avenue car. Smith's devotion to his Musa Sanctissima was often so hypnotic, I am told, that he neglected to let passengers on and off nay, it is even held by some critics that he occasionally forgot to collect a fare. But be it said to his undying honor that his Employers never suffered from such carelessness, for it was the custom of our Poet to demand double fares from the old, the feeble and the mentally deficient.

Even as the illimitable ichor of star dust, the mysterious Demiurge of the Universe, keeps the suns and planets to their orbitary revolutions, so must environment mark the Fas and Nefas of Genius. Plato's Idea of the Archetypal Man was due, perhaps, as much to the serene weather conditions of Academe as to the marvelous mentality of Plato. What had Job eaten for breakfast that he should have given utterance to his magnificent Lamentation? Was he the discoverer of Human Sorrow or the pioneer of Human Dyspepsia?

It is not altogether radical on my part, then, for me to assert that many of the stylistic peculiarities found in these Sonnets are attributable to the locale of their inspiration the rear platform of a Sixth Avenue car... Continue reading book >>

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