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Elinor Morton Wylie

(7 September 1885 – 16 December 1928 / Somerville, New Jersey)

The Crooked Stick


First Traveller: What's that lying in the dust?
Second Traveller: A crooked stick.
First Traveller: What's it worth, if you can trust to arithmetic?
Second Traveller: Isn't this a riddle?
First Traveller: No, a trick.
Second Traveller:It's worthless, leave it where it lies.
First Traveller: Wait; count ten;
Rub a little dust upon your eyes;
Now, look again.
Second Traveller: Well, and what the devil is it, then?
First Traveller: It's the sort of crooked stick that shepherds know.
Second Traveller: Someone's loss!
First Traveller: Bend it, and you make of it a bow.
Break it, a cross.
Second Traveller: But it's all grown over with moss!

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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