Good Morning, America [excerpt]
Sandburg, Carl (1878-1967)


A code arrives;  language;  lingo;  slang;
behold the proverbs of a people, a nation:
Give 'em the works.  Fix it, there's always
a way.  Be hard boiled.  The good die young.

Be a square shooter.  Be good;  if you can't
be good be careful.  When they put you in
that six foot bungalow, that wooden kimono,
you're through and that's that.

The higher they go the farther they drop.
The fewer the sooner.  Tell 'em.  Tell 'em.
Make 'em listen.  They got to listen when
they know who you are.  Don' t let 'em know
what you got on your hip.  Hit 'em where 
they ain't.  It's good for whatever ails 
you and if nothing ails you it's good for
that.  Where was you raised--in a barn?

They're a lot of muckers, tin horns;  show
those slobs where they get off at.  Tell 'em
you're going to open a keg of nails.  Beat 'em
to a fare-thee-well.  Hand 'em the razz-berries.
Clean 'em and then given 'em carfare home.
Maybe all you'll get from 'em you can put in
your ear, anyhow.

They got a fat nerve to try to tie a can
on you.  Send 'em to the cleaners.  Put the
kibosh on 'em so they'll never come back.
You don't seem to know four out of five
have pyorrhea in Peoria.

Your head ain't screwed on wrong, I trust.
Use your noodle, your nut, your think tank,
your skypiece.  God meant for you to use it.
If they offer to let you in on the ground
floor take the elevator.

Put up a sign:  Don't worry;  it won't last;
nothing does.  Put up a sign:  In God we
trust, all others pay cash.  Put up a sign:
Be brief, we have our living to make.  Put 
up a sign:  Keep of the grass.

Aye, behold the proverbs of a people:
The big word is Service.
Service--first, last and always.
Business is business.
What you don't know won't hurt you.
Courtesy pays.
Fair enough.
The voice with a smile.
Say it with flowers.
Let one hand wash the other.
The customer is always right.
Who's your boy friend?
Who's you girl friend?
O very well.
God reigns and the government at Washington lives.
Let it go at that.
There are lies, dam lies and statistics.
Figures don't lie but liars can figure.
There's more truth than poetry in that.
You don't know the half of it, dearie.
It's the roving bee that gather the honey. [1]
A big man is a big man whether he's a president or a prizefighter. [2]
Name your poison.
Take a little interest.
Look the part.
It pays to look well.
Be yourself.
Speak softly and carry a big stick.  [3]
War is hell.
Honesty is the best policy.
It's all in the way you look at it.
Get the money--honestly if you can.
It's hell to be poor.
Well, money isn't everything.
Well, life is what you make it.
Speed and curves--what more do you want?
I'd rather fly than eat.  [4]
There must be pioneers and some of them get killed.  [4]
The grass is always longer in the backyard.  [5]
Give me enough Swedes and snuff and I'll build a railroad to hell.  [6]
How much did he leave?  All of it.  [7]
Can you unscramble eggs?  [8]
Early to be and early to rise and you never meet any prominent people.[9]
Let's go.  Watch our smoke.  Excuse our dust.
Keep your shirt on.

1.  On hearing from his father "A rolling stone gathers no moss,"  John L. Sullivan won one of his important early fights and telegraphed this reply.
2.  John L. Sullivan's greeting spoken to President Theodore Roosevelt in the White House.
3.  A Spanish proverb first Americanized by Theodore Roosevelt.
4.  Charles A. Lindbergh.
5.  Based on a Republican campaign story in 1892 alleging that a man on all fours eating grass on the White House lawn told President Grover Cleveland, "I'm hungry," and was advised, "The grass is longer in the backyard."
6.  A saying that took rise from James J. (Jim) Hill.
7.  A folk tale in Chicago chronicles two ditch diggers on the morning after Marshall Field I died, leaving an estate of $150,000,000 as having this dialogue.
8.  J. Pierpont Morgan's query as to court decrees dissolving an inevitable industrial combination.
9.  George Ade.

Reading Modern Poetry: a Critical Anthology (Engle & Carrier)