Monday, June 23, 2008

Scrutable Poetry Corner: "Lines To My Next-Door Neighbor"

Here's a poem from the December 15, 1928 issue of The New Yorker, and it really resonates with me. It's called "Lines To My Next-Door Neighbor."
I don't mind your callers,
Since youth must have its flight;
But what I do object to
Is quite a different thing

Since New York walls are made of paper,
If you must talk
Will you please talk
Loud enough so I can hear
What you talk
Oh, I agree! It's MADDENING to hear human voices muttering JUST BELOW a comprehensible volume. Part of me wants to press my ear against the wall, and my other part says "Jesus, Muffy, don't be so nosy!"

Why do I want to listen? Certainly not to hear anything juicy. I just want to find some justification for why I'm forced to hear the sound in the first place. A nonsensical-but-deliberate noise is far more annoying than a noise with a rationale, in the same way that it's easier to excuse a rambunctious birthday party than it is to excuse a "just because we felt like it" kegger.

PS: The above poem was written by the virtually anonymous "J.C." If he or she was unwilling to clarify their identity...well, so am I!


Gary said...

My wife always insists that we keep our voices down. Our NY walls aren't really paper-thin, but (I guess) since we can hear "them," they could hear us.

Ironic point - sometimes I get loud over her insistence about us not being loud!

Muffy St. Bernard said...

So now you know, Gary...if you're going to be audible at all, you should be loud enough to be comprehensible! :)