Fifty-Fifty

For something like eleven summers
I've written things that aimed to teach
Our careless mealy-mouthéd mummers
To be more sedulous of speech.

So sloppy of articulation
So limping and so careless they,
About distinct enunciation,
Often I don't know what they say.

The other night an able actor,
Declaiming of some lines I heard,
I hailed a public benefactor,
As I distinguished every word.

But, oh! the subtle disappointment!
Thorn on the celebrated rose
And fly within the well-known ointment!
(Allusions everybody knows).

Came forth the words exact and snappy.
And as I sat there, that P.M.,
I mused, "Was I not just as happy
When I could not distinguish them?"

by Franklin Pierce Adams

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