To A. T. M.

James Kenneth Stephen.

See where the K., in sturdy self-reliance,
 Thoughtful and placid as a brooding dove,
Stands, firmly sucking, in the cause of science,
 Just such a peppermint as schoolboys love.

Suck, placid K.: the world will be thy debtor;
 Though thine eyes water and thine heart grow faint,
Suck: and the less thou likest it the better;
 Suck for our sake, and utter no complaint.

Near thee a being, passionate and gentle,
 Man’s latest teacher, wisdom’s pioneer,
Calmly majestically monumental,
 Stands: the august Telepathist is here.

Waves of perception, subtle emanations,
 Thrill through the ether, circulate amain;
Delicate soft impalpable sensations,
 Born of thy palate, quiver in his brain.

Lo! with a voice unspeakably dramatic,
 Lo! with a gesture singularly fine,
He makes at last a lucid and emphatic
 Statement of what is in that mouth of thine.

He could detect that peppermint’s existence,
 He read its nature in the book of doom;
Standing at some considerable distance;
 Standing, in fact, in quite another room.

Was there a faint impenetrable essence
 Wafted towards him from the sucking K.?
Did some pale ghost inform him of its presence?
 Or did it happen in some other way?

These are the questions nobody can answer,
 These are the problems nobody can solve;
Only we know that Man is an Advancer:
 Only we know the Centuries revolve.
‘The K.’ was the ‘A. T. M.’ to whom the piece is addressed A. T. Myers (Arthur, a physician of some eminence), the youngest brother of the poet parodied. Sir Herbert Stephen (by whose permission his brother’s parodies, from Lapsus Calami, are given) states that in the early days of the Society for Psychical Research, founded by F. W. H. Myers, and of the study of the newly-named ‘telepathy,’ such experiments were frequently tried by the members, and he thinks it highly probable that the incident of Arthur Myers taking peppermint in order to test the ability of an alleged telepathist ‘in quite another room’ to say what it was, took place in fact as described. ‘The K.’ was a nickname by which A. T. M. was very generally known among his friends and relations: the reason is obscure.