Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VIII. National Spirit
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VIII. National Spirit.  1904.
 
III. War
Jonathan to John
James Russell Lowell (1819–1891)
 
IT don’t seem hardly right, John,
  When both my hands was full,
To stump me to a fight, John,—
  Your cousin, tu, John Bull!
Old Uncle S., sez he, “I guess        5
  We know it now,” sez he,
“The Lion’s paw is all the law,
  Accordin’ to J. B.,
  Thet ’s fit for you and me!”
 
You wonder why we ’re hot, John?        10
  Your mark wuz on the guns,
The neutral guns, thet shot, John,
  Our brothers an’ our sons:
Ole Uncle S., sez he, “I guess
  There ’s human blood,” sez he,        15
“By fits an’ starts, in Yankee hearts,
  Though ’t may surprise J. B.
  More ’n it would you an’ me.”
 
Ef I turned mad dogs loose, John,
  On your front parlor stairs,        20
Would it just meet your views, John,
  To wait an’ sue their heirs?
Ole Uncle S., sez he, “I guess,
  I on’y guess,” sez he,
“Thet ef Vattel on his toes fell,        25
  ’T would kind o’ rile J. B.,
  Ez wal ez you an’ me!”
 
Who made the law thet hurts, John,
  Heads I win—ditto tails?
“J. B.” was on his shirts, John,        30
  Onless my memory fails.
Ole Uncle S., sez he, “I guess
  (I ’m good at thet),” sez he,
“Thet sauce for goose ain’t jest the juice
  For ganders with J. B.,        35
  No more ’n with you or me!”
 
When your rights was our wrongs, John,
  You didn’t stop for fuss,—
Britanny’s trident prongs, John,
  Was good ’nough law for us.        40
Ole Uncle S., sez he, “I guess
  Though physic ’s good,” sez he,
“It doesn’t foller thet he can swaller
  Prescriptions signed ‘J. B.’
  Put up by you an’ me.”        45
 
We own the ocean, tu, John,
  You mus’n’ take it hard,
Ef we can’t think with you, John,
  It ’s jest your own back yard.
Ole Uncle S., sez he, “I guess        50
  Ef thet ’s his claim,” sez he,
“The fencin’ stuff ’ll cost enough
  To bust up friend J. B.
  Ez wal ez you an’ me!”
 
Why talk so dreffle big, John,        55
  Of honor when it meant
You didn’t care a fig, John,
  But jest for ten per cent?
Ole Uncle S., sez he, “I guess
  He ’s like the rest,” sez he,        60
“When all is done, it ’s number one
  Thet ’s nearest to J. B.,
  Ez wal ez t’ you an’ me!”
 
We give the critters back, John,
  Cos Abram thought ’t was right;        65
It warn’t your bullyin’ clack, John,
  Provokin’ us to fight.
Ole Uncle S., sez he, “I guess
  We ’ve a hard row,” sez he,
“To hoe just now; but thet, somehow,        70
  May happen to J. B.,
  Ez well ez you an’ me!”
 
We ain’t so weak an’ poor, John,
  With twenty million people,
An’ close to every door, John,        75
  A school house an’ a steeple.
Ole Uncle S., sez he, “I guess
  It is a fact,” sez he,
“The surest plan to make a Man
  Is, think him so, J. B.,        80
  Ez much ez you an’ me!”
 
Our folks believe in Law, John;
  An’ it ’s fer her sake, now,
They ’ve left the axe an’ saw, John,
  The anvil an’ the plow.        85
Ole Uncle S., sez he, “I guess
  Ef ’t warn’t fer law,” sez he,
“There ’d be one shindy from here to Indy;
  An’ thet don’t suit J. B.
  (When ’t ain’t ’twixt you an’ me!)”        90
 
We know we ’ve got a cause, John,
  Thet ’s honest, just, an’ true;
We thought ’t would win applause, John,
  Ef nowhere else, from you.
Ole Uncle S., sez he, “I guess        95
  His love of right,” sez he,
“Hangs by a rotten fibre o’ cotton;
  There ’s natur’ in J. B.,
  Ez well ez you an’ me!”
 
The South says, “Poor folks down!” John,        100
  An’ “All men up!” say we,—
White, yaller, black, an’ brown, John;
  Now which is your idee?
Ole Uncle S., sez he, “I guess
  John preaches wal,” sez he;        105
“But, sermon thru, an’ come to du,
  Why there ’s the old J. B.
  A-crowdin’ you an’ me!”
 
Shall it be love or hate, John?
  It ’s you thet ’s to decide;        110
Ain’t your bonds held by Fate, John,
  Like all the world’s beside?
Ole Uncle S., sez he, “I guess
  Wise men fergive,” sez he,
“But not ferget; an’ some time yet        115
  Thet truth may strike J. B.,
  Ez wal ez you an’ me!”
 
God means to make this land, John,
  Clear thru, from sea to sea,
Believe an’ understand, John,        120
  The wuth o’ bein’ free.
Ole Uncle S., sez he, “I guess
  God’s price is high,” sez he;
“But nothin’ else than wut he sells
  Wears long, an’ thet J. B.        125
  May larn, like you an’ me!”
 
 
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