19  Berton Braley Poems

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Be encouraged by these Berton Braley poems. Berton Braley was born in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1882. He sold his first verse when about seventeen years old. He won a good many prizes and was editor of the University of Wisconsin Sphinx and the Literary Magazine.

In 1915 he went to Butte, Montana, and became a cub reporter on the Inter-Mountain. He afterward joined the editorial staff of the Evening News of Butte, remaining there for about three years. Came to New York in 1909 and freelanced until he became associate editor of Puck. In the vacations during his college career, he has done numerous and sundry jobs such as selling books, clerking, passing coal on the Great Lakes, digging ditches, acting as an attendant at an insane asylum, a guard in a prison, farmhand, ditch digger, miner, and various other situations around the world. These positions gave him an insight into working conditions and working men's viewpoints that have a good deal to do with the success he had achieved in the understanding of men who do the world's rough jobs.

He died on the 23rd of January 1966 but left the world a collection of encouragement and motivation in his poems. While the poems were written many years ago they contain wisdom that still applies today!

Berton Braley
Berton Braley



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Popular Berton Braley Short Poems:
  1. The Difference
    Poet: Berton Braley


    Tragedy stalks about the stage
    A picture of gloom and woe
    And mouths its agony, pain and rage
    For all of the house to know.

    But Tragedy, out in the world of men
    Is decked in the garb of glee,
    And we know it not when it meets our ken
    In the make-up of Comedy.

    It greets our eyes in the smile of a friend
    In sounds in a voice that's gay
    And we never learn till the very end
    That Tragedy ruled the play.

    Though woes be plenty and joys be sparse,
    All life is a game grotesque,
    So Tragedy plays the part of farce
    Or poses in cheap burlesque.

    It hides the marks of the scourging rods
    And plods through its daily task
    And screens its face from the gallery gods
    With a grin for a tragic mask!



  2. The Impulse
    Poet: Berton Braley


    Partner, I went to a picture show,
    An' gazin' upon the screen,
    My old fool eyes began to glow
    When they put on a western scene.
    The play itself was a foolish reel
    Of villains an' gold an' fight,
    But the country - partner, it made me feel -
    - Well, it kinda bedimmed my sight;

    For there was the narrow desert trail
    That wanders across the way,
    An' the dust that swirls in the sudden gale
    An' the sage brush, dry an' grey,
    An' the coulee deep, an' the water hole
    An' the old prospector's claim,
    An' all the sights that had stirred my soul
    Before I got old - an' tame.

    An' those actor folks was western, too,
    For they rode with a sort of swing
    Like the old time cowboys used to do
    When a cattleman still was king.
    They rode their bronc's with a careless grace
    Through country rough an' bare,
    It was only a reel - but my blood would race,
    For the scenes that I loved were there!

    I guess the country has seen a change
    Its wildest of tales is told,
    It ain't the west that I used to range
    In the rollicking days of old,
    But the peaks are white with the ancient snow
    An' the sky is the same blue dome,
    Partner, I went to a picture show
    - An' I reckon I'm goin' home!



  3. The Safety Valve
    Poet: Berton Braley


    There's something in us, every one,
    A queer unrest that gets us all,
    And till the game of life is done
    It irritates and frets us all.
    Some seek to drown it deep in drink
    Despite the carpers' caviling;
    And some in crime and some in - ink;
    I'm travelling, just travelling!

    The gambler's joy is in the game,
    The lover's in his amorous
    And fervid wooing. Some for fame
    And all it means are clamorous.
    I leave the statesman to his state,
    The chairman to his gavelling,
    The while with heart and mind elate
    I'm travelling, just travelling.

    From land to land, from sea to sea
    Where life is brightest, breeziest,
    I take the road that seems to me
    The kindest and the easiest;
    And so, though swiftly, day by day
    My skein of life's unravelling,
    I'll still be gayly on my way
    Travelling, just travelling!



  4. The Commuter
    Poet: Berton Braley


    He eats his breakfast worriedly
    His eye upon the clock
    Then seeks the station hurriedly
    And runs the final block.
    He has a grave propensity
    To miss the 8.15
    Which brings that strained intensity
    Upon his harried mien.

    His day is spent in laboring
    For gold with fervid vim
    So that commuters neighbouring
    May have no edge on him,
    And just to make more humorous
    His day of toil and fret
    His wife has errands numerous
    Which he must not forget.

    He hurries back in summer time
    To mow and rake the lawn.
    In winter's greyer, glummer time
    When all the grass is gone
    He rushes homeward hastily
    To shovel off the snow
    And heap it up quite tastily
    Or make the furnace go.

    When shows and things occur by night
    He rarely sees them through
    His train — ah poor suburbanite
    Leaves at 11.02,
    And yet with noble bravery
    He glories in his chains
    Although his life's a slavery
    To schedules and trains!



  5. The Sea Wind
    Poet: Berton Braley


    Below the skyline drops the shore,
    The long, grim graybacks lift and fall,
    Against the bows they crash and roar,
    The engine throbs, the sea gulls call,
    And salt against my pallid face
    There comes the challenge bold and free
    Of that world tramp who roams through space,
    The wind - the wind of open sea !

    Here is no breeze of drowsy lanes
    Nor breath of crowded towns and stale,
    This is the wind that sweeps the mains
    And leaps along the trackless trail,
    And with its savor on my lips
    The ancient joy comes back to me,
    Of those who dared - in Viking ships -
    The wind - the wind of open sea!

    It blows from out the vasty skies
    Across the tumbling sea's expanse,
    It stings to deeds of high emprise,
    It sings of glamor and romance;
    Chill, clean and strong - my pulses leap,
    My heart is filled with buoyant glee,
    I greet the rover of the deep,
    The wind - the wind of open sea!



  6. We Serve
    Poet: Berton Braley


    Not by cheers alone or the flattering vaunt of speeches
    Is the strength of a nation shown in the strain of the crucial hour
    But by trust in a righteous cause and a glorious love that reaches
    Deep down to a people's soul with its searching and poignant power,

    So the flags that float on the breeze have a tarnished and tawdry splendour
    If they are not raised aloft by hands that are leal and true,
    And the test of our loyal might is the faith that we gladly render,
    Not the words that our tongues may speak, but the tangible deeds we do.

    All that our fathers dreamed of, all that they ever sought for
    When they shivered at Valley Forge and battled at Bunker Hill,
    Is again at stake in the world - a guerdon that must be fought for;
    It is ours to hold and defend with all of our strength and will;

    And if we would keep our banners proudly and freely flying
    We must gird ourselves as others have girded themselves of old
    And prove by the fact of service, living or bravely dying,
    That the torch our fathers carried has never grown dim or cold.

    Not by cheers alone, or waving of flags and singing
    Is a nation's spirit shown, but only when brain and nerve
    Are trained to the instant need - and the nation's call is bringing
    Her bravest children forth - crying,
    "We Serve! We Serve!"

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