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...!