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EDMUND VANCE COOKE
American poet, author and lecturer
(1866 - 1932)

Back of the boy is Wilson,
  Pledge of his high degree,
    Back of the boy is Lincoln,
      Lincoln and Grant and Lee;
        Back of the boy is Jackson,
          Jackson and Tippecanoe,
            Back of each son is Washington,
              And the old red, white and blue!
      - Back of the Boy [Soldiers]

So you tell yourself you are pretty find clay
  To have tricked temptation and turned it away,
    But wait, my friend, for a different day;
      Wait till you want to want to!
      - Desire [Temptation]

You may batter your way through the thick of the fray,
  You may sweat, you may swear, you may grunt;
    You may be a jack-fool, if you must, but this rule
      Should ever be kept at the front;--
        Don't fight with your pillow, but lay down your head
          And kick every worriment out of the bed.
      - Don't take your Troubles to Bed [Trouble]

The North! the South! the West! the East!
  No one the most and none the least,
    But each with its own heart and mind,
      Each of its own distinctive kind,
        Yet each a part and none the whole,
          But all together form one soul;
            That soul Our Country at its best,
              No North, no South, no East, no West,
                No yours, no mine, but always Ours,
                  Merged in one Power our lesser powers,
                    For no one's favor, great or small,
                      But all for Each and each for All.
      - Each for All, in "The Uncommon Commoner"
        [America]

The life's a hollow bubble,
  Don't you know?
    Just a painted piece of trouble,
      Don't you know?
        We come to earth to cry,
          We grow older and we sigh,
            Older still, and then we die!
              Don't you know?
      - Fin de Siecle [Life]

Death comes with a crawl or he comes with a pounce,
  And whether he's slow, or spry,
    It isn't the fact that you're dead that counts,
      But only, how did you die?
      - How Did You Die? [Death]

Kisses kept are wasted;
  Love is to be tasted.
    There are some you love, I know;
      Be not loath to tell them so.
        Lips go dry and eyes grow wet
          Waiting to be warmly met,
            Keep them not in waiting yet;
              Kisses kept are wasted.
      - Kisses Kept Are Wasted [Kisses]

But maybe prayer is a road to rise,
  A mountain path leading toward the skies
    To assist the spirit who truly tries.
      But it isn't a shibboleth, creed, nor code,
        It isn't a pack-horse to carry your load,
          It isn't a wagon, it's only a road.
            And perhaps the reward of the spirit who tries
              Is not the goal, but the exercise!
      - Prayer--The Uncommon Commoner [Prayer]

I have seen men march to the wars, and then
  I have watched their homeward tread,
    And they brought back bodies of living men,
      But their eyes were fold and dead.
        So, Buddy no matter what else the fame,
          No matter what else the prize,
            I want you to come back thru The Flame
              With the boy-look still in your eyes!
      - The Boy-Look [Soldiers]

He is so little to be so large!
  Why, a train of cars, or a whale-back barge
    Couldn't carry the freight
      Of the monstrous weight
        Of all of his qualities, good and great.
          And tho' one view is as good as another
            Don't take my word for it. Ask his mother!
      - The Intruder [Babyhood]

And when the music goes to-toot,
  The monkey acts so funny
    That we all hurry up and scoot
      To get some monkey-money.
        M-double-unk for the monkey,
          M-double-an for the man;
            M-double-unky, hunky monkey,
              Hunkey monkey-man.
                Ever since the world began
                  Children danced and children ran
                    When they heard the monkey-man,
                      The m-double-unky man.
      - The Monkey-Man---I rule the House [Music]

The Moo-cow-moo's got a tail like a rope
  En it's ravelled down where it grows,
    En it's just like feeling a piece of soap
      All over the moo-cow's nose.
      - The Moo-Cow-Moo [Cows]

But as for all the rest,
  There's hardly one (I may say none) who stands the Artist's test.
    The Artist is a rare, rare breed. There were but two, forsooth,
      In all me time (the stage's prime!) and The Other One was Booth.
      - The Other One was Booth [Acting]

It is not the weight of jewel or plate,
  Or the fondle of silk or fur;
    "Tis the spirit in which the gift is rich,
      As the gifts of the Wise Ones were,
        And we are not told whose gift was gold,
          Or whose was the gift of myrrh.
      - The Spirit of the Gift [Gifts]

O, Uncommon Commoner! may your name
  Forever lead like a living flame!
    Unschooled scholar! how did you learn
      The wisdom a lifetime may not earn?
        Unsainted martyr! higher than saint!
          You were a man with a man's constraint.
            In the world, of the world was your lot;
              With it and for it the fight you fought,
                And never till Time is itself forgot
                  And the heart of man is a pulseless clot
                    Shall the blood flow slow, when we think the thought
                      Of Lincoln!
      - The Uncommon Commoner [Lincoln, Abraham]


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