The Need

Edgar Guest

We were sittin' there,
     and smokin' of our pipes, discussin' things
Like taxes, votes for wimmin,
     an' the totterin' thrones of kings,
When he ups an' strokes his whiskers
     with his hand an' says to me:
"Changin' laws an' legislatures ain't
     as fur as I can see,
Goin' to make this world much better,
     unless somehow we can
Find a way to make a better an' a finer sort o' man.

"The trouble ain't with statutes or with systems—
     not at all;
It's with humans jus' like we air
     an' their petty ways an' small.
We could stop our writin' law-books
     an' our regulatin' rules
If a better sort of manhood
     was the product of our schools.
For the things that we air needin'
     isn't writing' from a pen
Or bigger guns to shoot with,
     but a bigger type of men.

"I reckon all these problems
     air jest ornery like the weeds,
They grow in soil that oughta nourish
     only decent deeds,
An' they waste our time an' fret us when,
     if we were thinkin' straight
An' livin' right,
     they wouldn't be so terrible and great.
A good horse needs no snaffle
     and a good man, I opine,
Doesn't need a law to check him
     or to force him into line.

"If we ever start in teachin' to our children,
     year by year,
How to live with one another,
     there'll be less o' trouble here.
If we'd teach 'em how to neighbor
     an' to walk in honor's ways,
We could settle every problem
     which the mind o' man can raise.
What we're needin' isn't systems
     or some regulatin' plan
But a bigger an' a finer an' a truer type o' man."

from Collected Verse of Edgar Guest
NY:Buccaneer Books, 1976, pg. 591