Letters be Happy Together [poem, 8 July 1886]

[Editor: This poem was published in Melbourne Punch (Melbourne, Vic.), 8 July 1886.]

Letters be Happy Together.

An M.L.A. we’ll often find
The people’s N. M. E.,
An M.L.A. is sometimes found
A man of N. R. G.
An M. L. A. is always found
To grab the L. S. D.

Melbourne Punch (Melbourne, Vic.), 8 July 1886, p. 15 (3rd page of that issue)

Also published in:
The Bulletin (Sydney, NSW), 21 August 1886, p. 5 (column 4, in the “Australiana” column)

Editor’s notes:
This poem, as published in The Bulletin, of 21 August 1886, was prefaced with the following text:

“By a majority of four the South Australian Legislative Assembly have decided to say daily prayers. They will possibly pray to be made honest… Dedicated to the N.S.W. Assembly—”

The title of the poem, “Letters be Happy Together” contains a pun, implying that it should be “Let Us be Happy Together” but instead uses the word “Letters” to refer to the various initialisms (abbreviations consisting of initial letters) contained with the poem.

In the context of this poem, “N. M. E.” means “enemy”, whilst “N. R. G.” means “energy”.

L. S. D. = an abbreviation of the three basic British-style currency denominations used in Australia (prior to the decimalisation of Australia’s currency on 14 February 1966), i.e. pounds, shillings, and pence; the abbreviations stem from the Latin names for the common currency denominations: “librae” (or “libra”, a basic unit of weight in ancient Rome; from the Latin “libra” for “scales” or “balance”), “solidi” (gold Roman coins; singular “solidus”, Latin for “solid”), and “denarii” (small silver Roman coins; singular “denarius”, from the Latin “deni” for “containing ten”); pounds were commonly symbolized by a pound sign “£” (a stylized “L”) or by “L” (or “l”)

M.L.A. = Member of the Legislative Assembly


  1. Raymond says:

    I wonder if “letters be” should be glossed as well, to show its meaning of “let us be”.
    Thanks for the smiles.

    • Glad you enjoyed the poem.

      Good suggestion re. adding “letters be” to the Editor’s Notes. It has now been done.

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