The Instructiphone by Carolyn Wells

There was a youthful genius once, a boy of thirteen years,
Named Cyrus Franklin Edison Lavoisier De Squeers.
To study he was not inclined, for fun he had a bent;
But there was just one article he wanted to invent.

“It’s a sort of a contraption which will work itself,” he said,
“And, without studying, will put my lessons in my head.”
He thought and puzzled o’er his plan, he worked with might and main
To utilize the wondrous schemes within his fertile brain:

Until at last the thing was done, and to his friends said he:
“It is the wonder of the age! Success I can foresee!
My great invention is complete, and–’tis no idle vaunt–
I’m sure that my Instructiphone will fill a long-felt want.

“The action is quite simple–I will try to make it clear:
This funnel-shaped receiver I apply to my left ear;
Then in this hopper I will put whate’er I wish to learn–
A page of history or of Greek,–and then this crank I’ll turn.

“The topic goes into this tube, a sort of phonograph
Which acts directly on my mind,–it does, you needn’t laugh!
I do not have to think at all, for, as I pull this chain,
My wonderful machine transmits the knowledge to my brain.”

The plan was good, the works were fine, and yet there was a flaw;
When Cyrus turned the crank around, the neighbors watched with awe.
He confidently pulled the chain with motion quick and deft;
The knowledge entered his right ear–and came out at his left.

He tried again,–a page of Greek; he tried a theme occult,–
A message and an errand,–every time the same result!
Then Cyrus knew that somehow his machine had missed its aim;
For though the works ran smoothly it was always just the same.

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No matter what the book might be, or what it was about,
It would go in at one ear,–at the other ‘twould come out!
So in his laboratory, baffled Cyrus sitting lone,
Strives to correct the sad defect in his Instructiphone.

But it is my opinion, there’s no fault in the machine:
The trouble is that Cyrus is like other boys I’ve seen.

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