Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE BIGLOW PAPERS. 2D SERIES: 2. JONATHAN TO JOHN, by JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL



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THE BIGLOW PAPERS. 2D SERIES: 2. JONATHAN TO JOHN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: It don't seem hardly right, john
Last Line: "may larn, like you an' me!"
Subject(s): American Civil War; Mason, James Murry (1798-1871); Patriotism; Slidell, John (1793-1871); United States - History; War


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!
Ole Uncle S., sez he, "I guess
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?
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,
"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,
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,
'Twould 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,
Onless my memory fails.
Ole Uncle S., sez he, "I guess
(I'm good at thet)" sez he,
"Thet sauce for goose ain't lest the juice
For ganders with J. B.,
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.
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."

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
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 dreffie big, John,
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,
"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;
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,
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,
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.,
Ez much ez you an' me!"

Our folks believe in Law, John;
An' it's fer her sake, now,
They're left the axe an' saw, John,
The anvil an' the plow.
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!)"

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
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,
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;
"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;
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
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,
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.
May larn, like you an' me!"




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