A Lament.

Papers must be sent in by November 25th, and must not
contain more than five hundred words.”
Extract from Rules.
Papers must not contain above1
Five hundred words. Paper and ink2
Surround me as I sit and think,3
Till thought inspires my pen to move.4
The essay grows ; its pages shine5
With similes and metaphors,6
Freely without a fetter soars7
The eloquence of every line.8
A brilliant closing peroration9
A final flourish !  Done at last !10
And on it all a look I cast11
Of mingled pride and jubilation.12
I count the words . . . . Alas, indeed,13
For gems of speech and phrases dainty !14
Five hundred words ! ” I murmer faintly,15
And mournfully begin to weed.16
Of all its flowers and plumes bereft,17
Yet still too long ! I go on clipping,18
Reluctantly each sentence stripping,19
Till nothing but the bones is left.20
The ghost of what it was before,21
Shorn of its scantiest decoration22
What caused this barbarous mutilation ?—23
’Twas this— “ Five hundred words : no more ” !24