The Need By Edgar Albert Guest

The Need

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.’

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