By the way, would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write in a sort of broken-down patois which is something like the way a Swiss waiter talks, and that when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will stay split, and when I interrupt the velvety smoothness of my more or less literate syntax with a few sudden words of barroom vernacular, this is done with the eyes wide open and the mind relaxed but attentive. The method may not be perfect, but it is all I have. I think your proofreader is kindly attempting to steady me on my feet, but much as I appreciate the solicitude, I am really able to steer a fairly clear course, provided I get both sidewalks and the street between.
The editor passed on his comment to the copy-editor (even then, it seems, people confused copy-editors and proofreaders) who replied to Chandler. He subsequently sent her the following:
Lines to a Lady With an Unsplit InfinitiveMiss Margaret Mutch she raised her crutchWith a wild Bostonian cry."Though you went to Yale, your grammar is frail,"She snarled as she jabbed his eye."Though you went to Princeton I never winced onSuch a horrible relative clause!Though you went to Harvard no decent larva'dAccept your syntactical flaws.Taught not to drool at a Public School(With a capital P and S)You are drooling still with your shall and willYou're a very disgusting mess!"She jabbed his eye with a savage cry.She laughed at his anguished shrieks.O'er the Common he fled with a hole in his head.To heal it took Weeks and Weeks."O dear Miss Mutch, don't raise your crutchTo splinter my new glass eye!There ain't no school that can teach a foolThe whom of the me and the I.There ain't no grammar that equals a hammerTo nail down a cut-rate wit.And the verb 'to be' as employed by meIs often and lightly split.A lot of my style (so-called) is vileFor I learned to write in a bar.The marriage of thought to words was wroughtWith many a strong sidecar.A lot of my stuff is extremely rough,For I had no maiden aunts.O dear Miss Mutch, leave go your clutchOn Noah Webster's pants!The grammarian will, when the poet lies still,Instruct him in how to sing.The rules are clean: they are right, I ween,But where do they make the thing?In the waxy gloam of a Funeral HomeWhere the gray morticians bow?Is it written best on a palimpsest,Or carved on a whaleboat's prow?Is it neatly joined with needlepointTo the chair that was Grandma's pride?Or smeared in blood on the shattered woodWhere the angry rebel died?O dear Miss Mutch, put down your crutch,and leave us to crack a bottle.A guy like I weren't meant to dieOn the grave of Aristotle.O leave us dance on the dead romanceOf the small but clear footnote.The infinitive with my fresh-honed shivI will split from heel to throat.Roll on, roll on, thou semicolon,ye commas crisp and brown.The apostrophe will stretch like toffeeWhen we nail the full stop down.Oh, hand in hand with the ampersandWe'll tread a measure brisk.We'll stroll all night by the delicate lightOf a well placed asterisk.As gay as a lark in the fragrant darkWe'll hoist and down the tipple.With laughter light we'll greet the plightOf a hanging participle!"She stared him down with an icy frown.His accidence she shivered.His face was white with sudden fright,And his syntax lily-livered."O dear Miss Mutch, leave down your crutch!"He cried in thoughtless terror.Short shrift she gave. Above his grave:HERE LIES A PRINTER'S ERROR.