Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > Anthology of Magazine Verse for 1920
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. (1878–1962).  Anthology of Magazine Verse for 1920.  1920.
 
The Lawyers Know Too Much
 
Carl Sandburg (1878–1967)
 
 
THE LAWYERS, Bob, know too much.
They are chums of the books of old John Marshall.
They know it all, what a dead hand Wrote,
A stiff dead hand and its knuckles crumbling,
The bones of the fingers a thin white ash.        5
    The lawyers know
      a dead man’s thoughts too well.
 
In the heels of the higgling lawyers, Bob,
Too many slippery ifs and buts and howevers,
Too much hereinbefore provided whereas,        10
Too many doors to go in and out of.
 
    When the lawyers are through
    What is there left, Bob?
    Can a mouse nibble at it
    And find enough to fasten a tooth in?        15
 
    Why is there always a secret singing
    When a lawyer cashes in?
    Why does a hearse horse snicker
    Hauling a lawyer away?
 
The work of a bricklayer goes to the blue.        20
The knack of a mason outlasts a moon.
The hands of a plasterer hold a room together.
The land of a farmer wishes him back again.
    Singers of songs and dreamers of plays
    Build a house no wind blows over.        25
The lawyers—tell me why a hearse horse snickers hauling a lawyer’s bones.

  The Dial
 

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