A pen was lying in a penholder near the inkstand on an
author's desk.
    The penholder was a simple nickel-plated affair, while the
pen was of gold.
    The pen began to vaunt its own worth to its companions.
    "Think how great I am," it said.  "Nothing else so small
as I has such influence.  Nothing else of any size accom-
plishes what I do."
    "Yes, our mission is a great one," responded the pen-
    "Our mission, indeed!" sneered the pen.  "I would like to
know how much of the glory belongs to you."
    "Well, you could not very well get along without me.
We are necessary to each other," replied the holder.  "And
we both depend upon the inkstand yonder for our power."
    "I depend on nobody!" screamed the pen angrily.  "I
do not thank you for making such disparaging remarks about
me, or trying to steal my glory.  Do you suppose the man
who said 'the pen is mightier than the sword' included you
and the inkstand in the remark?"
    "Yet what would you be without us?" asked the inkstand.
"You would be like the body without blood or limbs."
    "You would be less useful than the lead pencil which you
despise," added the holder, "did we not lend you our assist-
ance.  It does not lessen your worth to give us due credit for
our share in your work."
    "But you are such common affairs," sneered the pen, nearly
beside itself with rage.  "And I am gold.  I am of fine blood
aside from my deeds; you are mere nickel-plate at best."
    Just then the author sat down at his desk and picked up
the holder and pen.
    "How I do prize this little penholder here," he said, speak-
ing to his wife, who sat near.  "It seems like a tried friend.
I do not believe I could feel the same inspiration with another.
But I am sorry to see that my pen has a turned point.  It has
done me good service, but I must throw it away and get an-
    So the proud gold pen was tossed into the waste basket al-
most before it had ceased its boastful self-laudation.

The Beautiful Land of Nod by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: Morrill, Higgins & Co. [1892]

Back to Poem Index