Poetry Saturday―Don’t You?

Edmund Vance CookeWhen the plan which I have, to grow suddenly rich
Grows weary of leg and drops into the ditch,
And scheme follows scheme
Like the web of a dream
To glamour and glimmer and shimmer and seem,…
Only seem;
And then, when the world looks unfadably blue,
If my rival sails by
With his head in the sky,
And sings “How is business?” Why, what do I do?
Well, I claim that I aim to be honest and true,
But I sometimes lie. Don’t you?

When something at home is decidedly wrong,
When somebody sings a false note in the song,
Too low or too high,
And, you hardly know why,
But it wrangles and jangles and runs all awry,…
Aye, awry!
And then, at the moment when things are askew,
Some cousin sails in
With a face all a-grin,
And a “Do I intrude? Oh, I see that I do!”
Well, then, though I aim to be honest and true,
Still I sometimes lie. Don’t you?

When a man whom I need has some foible or fad,
Not very commendable, not very bad;
Perhaps it’s his daughter,
And some one has taught her
To daub up an “oil” or to streak up a “water”!
And her grass is green green and her sky is blue blue,
But her father, with pride,
In a stagey aside
Asks my “candid opinion.” Then what do I do?
Well, I claim that I aim to be honest and true,
But I sometimes lie. Don’t you? —Edmund Vance Cooke

Book Reviews From 2014

Poetry Saturday—Failure

Edmund Vance CookeWhat is a failure? It’s only a spur
   To a man who receives it right,
And it makes the spirit within him stir
   To go in once more and fight.
If you never have failed, it’s an even guess
You never have won a high success.

What is a miss? It’s a practice shot
   Which a man must make to enter
The list of those who can hit the spot
   Of the bull’s-eye in the centre.
If you never have sent your bullet wide,
You never have put a mark inside.

What is a knock-down? A count of ten
   Which a man may take for a rest.
It will give him a chance to come up again
   And do his particular best.
If you never have more than met your match,
I guess you never have toed the scratch. —Edmund Vance Cooke


Impertinent Poems (book review)

Impertinent PoemsImpertinent Poems is a lovely collection of poetry from Edmund Vance Cooke. In case you left your dictionary at home, “impertinent” implies someone is a bit brash and out of line, so you might almost think that these poems are a bit cheeky.

And they are. Sort of.

Cooke does poke and prod his readers to take a good, long, honest look in the mirror in a way that’s almost too pointed. But then you realize that his finger is pointed squarely at his own reflection in the mirror, and we are almost listening in as he talks to himself.

Some of the poems are fun, some make you laugh, some seem a bit out of date (remember: these poems were written nearly 100 years ago), but all of them will make you think. And that is the beauty of well-written poetry.

Poetry Saturday—How Did You Die?

Edmund Vance CookeDid you tackle that trouble that came your way
With a resolute heart and cheerful?
Or hide your face from the light of day
With a craven soul and fearful?
Oh, a trouble’s a ton, or a trouble’s an ounce,
Or a trouble is what you make it,
And it isn’t the fact that you’re hurt that counts,
But only how did you take it?

You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what’s that?
Come up with a smiling face.
It’s nothing against you to fall down flat,
But to lie there—that’s disgrace.
The harder you’re thrown, why the higher you bounce;
Be proud of your blackened eye!
It isn’t the fact that you’re licked that counts,
It’s how did you fight—and why?

And though you be done to the death, what then?
If you battled the best you could,
If you played your part in the world of men,
Why, the Critic will call it good.
Death comes with a crawl, or 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? —Edmund Vance Cooke

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