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John Smith, U.S.A.

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  To-day I strayed in Charing Cross as wretched as could be  With thinking of my home and friends across the tumbling sea;  There was no water in my eyes, but my spirits were depressed  And my heart lay like a sodden, soggy doughnut in my breast.  This way and that streamed multitudes, that gayly passed me by—  Not one in all the crowd knew me and not a one knew I!  "Oh, for a touch of home!" I sighed; "oh, for a friendly face!  Oh, for a hearty handclasp in this teeming desert place!"  And so, soliloquizing as a homesick creature will,  Incontinent, I wandered down the noisy, bustling hill  And drifted, automatic-like and vaguely, into Lowe's,  Where Fortune had in store a panacea for my woes.  The register was open, and there dawned upon my sight  A name that filled and thrilled me with a cyclone of delight—  The name that I shall venerate unto my dying day—  The proud, immortal signature: "John Smith, U.S.A."

  Wildly I clutched the register and brooded on that name—  I knew John Smith, yet could not well identify the same.  I knew him North, I knew him South, I knew him East and West—  I knew him all so well I knew not which I knew the best.  His eyes, I recollect, were gray, and black, and brown, and blue,  And, when he was not bald, his hair was of chameleon hue;  Lean, fat, tall, short, rich, poor, grave, gay, a blonde and a brunette—  Aha, amid this London fog, John Smith, I see you yet;  I see you yet, and yet the sight is all so blurred I seem  To see you in composite, or as in a waking dream,  Which are you, John? I'd like to know, that I might weave a rhyme  Appropriate to your character, your politics and clime;  So tell me, were you "raised" or "reared"—your pedigree confess  In some such treacherous ism as "I reckon" or "I guess";  Let fall your tell-tale dialect, that instantly I may  Identify my countryman, "John Smith, U.S.A."

  It's like as not you are the John that lived a spell ago  Down East, where codfish, beans 'nd bona-fide school-marms grow;  Where the dear old homestead nestles like among the Hampshire hills  And where the robin hops about the cherry boughs and trills;  Where Hubbard squash 'nd huckleberries grow to powerful size,  And everything is orthodox from preachers down to pies;  Where the red-wing blackbirds swing 'nd call beside the pickril pond,  And the crows air cawin' in the pines uv the pasture lot beyond;  Where folks complain uv bein' poor, because their money's lent  Out West on farms 'nd railroads at the rate uv ten per cent;  Where we ust to spark the Baker girls a-comin' home from choir,  Or a-settin' namin' apples round the roarin' kitchen fire:  Where we had to go to meetin' at least three times a week,  And our mothers learnt us good religious Dr. Watts to speak,  And where our grandmas sleep their sleep—God rest their souls, I say!  And God bless yours, ef you're that John, "John Smith, U.S.A."

  Or, mebbe, Colonel Smith, yo' are the gentleman I know  In the country whar the finest democrats 'nd horses grow;  Whar the ladies are all beautiful an' whar the crap of cawn  Is utilized for Bourbon and true dawters are bawn;  You've ren for jedge, and killed yore man, and bet on Proctor Knott—  Yore heart is full of chivalry, yore skin is full of shot;  And I disremember whar I've met with gentlemen so true  As yo' all in Kaintucky, whar blood an' grass are blue;  Whar a niggah with a ballot is the signal fo' a fight,  Whar a yaller dawg pursues the coon throughout the bammy night;  Whar blooms the furtive 'possum—pride an' glory of the South—  And Aunty makes a hoe-cake, sah, that melts within yo' mouth...!