As I Was Going Up The Stair...

Years ago, I heard a poem, supposedly by Hughes Mearns, that was very dark and catchy. It goes like this:

Now, this little rune has found its way into many different places, including a Stephen King novel and the film Identity. Variations include the last line being changed to “I wish, I wish he’d (stay/go) away!” and “I wish that man would (stay/go) away.”

It’s always attributed to Hughes Mearns, and is both listed as “Antigonish,” or simply as from Mearns’ play, “The Psychoed.” Problem is, I can’t find any information on Mearns, The Psychoed, or where this poem was originally published. The only link I have is a book that may be written by the same person entitled “Creative Power: The Education of Youth in the Creative Arts.”

Is there more to this poem? Is it the same Hughes Mearns that wrote the youth book? Is “The Psychoed” a fiction? And, if so, where did this thing even come from?

Any help would, of course, be greatly appreciated.

It seems the name of the poem is Psychoed here is (possibly) the entire poem.

Read my post again, and I think you’ll understand that I’m asking for the origin, which has been disputed several times by many people over the internet. I’m looking for the original source of the poem, and if it was actually written by this Mearns fellow.

You may get some information from: under the heading of A little Man. The author of the article seems to have researched it somewhat.

I like the Mad parody of this poem:
Yesterdat upon the stair
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today
I think he’s with the CIA

There’s a wonderful Paul Coker illustration to go with it.

Hmm, yeah. He has certainly researched it, but I’ve mostly ended up with the same information. Info on lots of old, out-of-print books and no desire to read through all of them in the search for this obscurely-referenced yet widely-known poem.

I was hoping to hit on the one person in the world to actually know a bit about the origin rather than just the wide spectrum it flew from. Thanks for the assist, though, I appreciate it.

Any other takers?

IIRC, and it’s been a few years, the poem shows up in The Tall Book of Make-Believe, published ~1930’s. Perhaps there’s an attribution there?

Hmm…can’t find anything specific about the book, but I’ll add that to the list of books to look up. Thanks. :slight_smile:

FWIW, I remember reading a similarly-metered poem in a children’s joke/story book around 35-40 years ago:

As I was sitting in my chair
I saw the bottom wasn’t there
Nor legs nor back, but I just sat
Ignoring little things like that

It was attributed to Hughes Mearns.

I respectfully submit a poem originally published in the 1965 compilation, “A Red Skelton in Your Closet - Ghost Stories Gay and Grim Selected by the Master of Comedy.”

The poem, entitled “The Spook Upon the Stair,” is attributed to one Andrew McCullen, and goes like this:

I met a spook upon the stair;
He was a haunt who had no hair.
In fact, he didn’t have a head
(Which made me think he might be dead).

His head I saw beneath his arm,
Safely tucked away from harm,
But still it spoke to me and said,
“Before you go on up to bed,
Please let me say you should not stare
At ghosts you meet upon the stair.”

Thus spoke that spook, I do not lie,
Before I could quite pass it by.
“The thoughful, gentle thing to do,”
It said to me, as I say to you,
“Is act as if they were not there,
And never, never, never stare,
Even though beneath an arm
Their heads they carry, safe from harm.

“However frightful they may be,
Act as if you did not see,
And if you did, would not have cared.
Above all, NEVER show you’re scared.”

This spook he spoke so plain and fair,
I heeded him, right then and there.
I hurried on right to the top,
And as I went I heard a pop.
I turned - and there was nothing there.
The spot the spook had been was bare.
If that doesn’t take the general theme to it’s ultimate end, I don’t know what does. Thanks for the excuse to dig the book back up.

Since this is a question about literature, let’s kick this over to Cafe Society.

DrMatrix - GQ Moderator

And then there’s the yehudi connection. I remember reading that reference in an old story ages ago.

Years ago, someone I knew wrote a poem which began :

As I was walking up a stair
I found I had to tread with care
For I was coming down as well
Though how this was I could not tell
“Hello” Said me, “And how am I”
“I’m fine” I said, and passed on by.
“We really must do this again”
“We must, although I know not when”

And that’s all I remember.