Works in the Herald 1934

Meetings of protest against Government censorship of books are being widely supported by literary, scientific and many other thoughtful people, who consider the present system an absurd impertinence.

A scholar full of wisdom and of years,
   Whose mind had served his fellow men, a sage
Deep reverenced, who loomed maid his peers
   Because he still sought knowledge in old age,
Desired one day a certain book to find
   That seemed to hold the answer to a thought –-
A problem that for long had vexed his mind.
   But, strangely, nowhere could the book be bought.

But Papa, the Government, said, "Naughty man!"
   And Papa, the Censor, cried, "At your age?  Fie!
Don’t you know that book is under our stern ban?
   It has passages unfit to meet your eye.
Now, please don’t argue!  Tho’ you’re wise indeed,
   We know what’s good for you.  So be content."
"And you’d only pick out spicy bits to read,
   Same as I did," said Papa, the Government.

A young man, seeking eagerly to serve
   His country in the field of literature,
With youthful fervor, lately had the nerve
   To ask for English books that were "impure."
Classics?  Ah well.  What of it?  These were books
   That well might make a maiden aunt turn pale,
Or a curate wriggle, with uneasy looks . . . 
   So the young man very nearly went to gaol.

And Papa, the Government, was wrath indeed:
   While Papa, the Censor, said, "Young man, for shame!
Understand, the only books that you may read
   Are those I choose for you.  Tho’ you may claim
That Britain reads them, you can’t read them here!"
   "Besides, why this queer literary bent?
Why, we’ve books about the criminal career
   By the cartload," said Papa, the Government.

Herald, 29 November 1934, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2003