No man on the stair

A. Vine avine at ENG.SUN.COM
Thu May 13 01:06:47 UTC 1999

Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM wrote:
> The estimable Barry's quoted list of 1943 Army slang includes:
>     YEHUDI--The little man who cracks you on the back of the head with a mallet.
> This brings back, with an exclamation, memories of a fantasy story I must've
> read in the early 60s and remember only dimly. It involved IIRC some sort of
> gizmo that enabled its hero to do things simply by giving an order, such as
> "shut the window", and it would be done with no visible agent. There was some
> reference to the verse
>      Last night I met upon the stair
>      A little man who wasn't there.
>      He wasn't there again today.
>      Gee, I wish he'd go away.

I learned this poem as:

As I was going up the stair
I met a man who wasn't there
He wasn't there again today
Oh God, I wish he'd go away.

Accompanying the poem was a Magritte-style (or possibly a Magritte) picture of a
blue sky with clouds in the outline of a man (with a bowler hat?) on a

I don't remember where I saw this, though.  I think it might have been in a book
called "The Haunted House and Other Spooky Poems and Tales".

Andrea Vine
Sun Internet Mail Server i18n architect
avine at
Remember: stressed is desserts spelled backwards.

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