Berton Braley Famous Poems

Berton Braley wrote motivational and inspirational poetry. He wrote these poetry on his personal experience. History tells us that he worked in almost every field. During his studies he worked as a clerk, book seller, miner, guard in prison and digging the ditches. He died but he left source of motivation and inspiration through his poems.  

The Whistler

by Berton Braley

Berton Braley Famous Poems

Whistle, old chap; you just go on and whistle;
Never you fret about kickers like him;
Your heart’s as light as the down of a thistle;
Who cares if grumblers are grouchy and grim?
Go on and whistle ; don’t mind what they say to you;
Most of us thrill to your message of cheer;
Fortune is good and the world’s looking gay to you?
Go on and whistle ; it’s pleasant to hear!
Whistle, man, whistle – as light as a thistle;
Go on and whistle; it’s bully to hear!

Whistle, old fellow; you go on and whistle;
What do we care if you sharp or you flat?
Let the old bachelors burble and bristle;
Who gives a whoop for such people as that?
Go on and whistle – it proves there is Boy in you.
Youth that has lasted for many a year,
Give us the notes of the fun and the joy in you;
Go on and whistle; it’s pleasant to hear;
Whistle, man, whistle, as light as a thistle;
Go on and whistle – it’s bully to hear!

Whistle, old chap – you just go on and whistle;
Give us your flutings of popular airs;
Whistle in spite of the grouches who bristle;
Whistle away all our worries and cares;
Something there is of the troubadour clan in you
Warming our hearts with your melodies clear;
Toil is forgot as we hark to the Pan in you;
Go on and whistle – it’s pleasant to hear;
Whistle, man, whistle – as light as a thistle;
Go on and whistle – it’s bully to hear!


The Difference

Poet: Berton Braley

Tragedy stalks about the stage
A picture of gloom and woe
And mouths its agony, pain and rage
For all of the house to know.

But Tragedy, out in the world of men
Is decked in the garb of glee,
And we know it not when it meets our ken
In the make-up of Comedy.

It greets our eyes in the smile of a friend
In sounds in a voice that’s gay
And we never learn till the very end
That Tragedy ruled the play.

Though woes be plenty and joys be sparse,
All life is a game grotesque,
So Tragedy plays the part of farce
Or poses in cheap burlesque.

It hides the marks of the scourging rods
And plods through its daily task
And screens its face from the gallery gods
With a grin for a tragic mask!



by Berton Braley

With doubt and dismay you are smitten
You think there’s no chance for you, son?
Why, the best books haven’t been written
The best race hasn’t been run
The best score hasn’t been made yet,
The best song hasn’t been sung,
The best tune hasn’t been played yet,
Cheer up, for the world is young!

No chance? Why the world is just eager
For things that you ought to create.
Its store of true wealth is still meager
Its needs are incessant and great
It yearns for more power and beauty
More laughter and love and romance,
More loyalty, labor and duty,
No chance-why there’s nothing but chance!

For the best verse hasn’t been rhymed yet,
The best house hasn’t been planned,
The highest peak hasn’t been climbed yet,
The mightiest rivers aren’t spanned
Don’t worry and fret, faint hearted,
The chances have just begun,
For the Best jobs haven’t been started,
The Best work hasn’t been done.


The Thinker

by Berton Braley

Back of the beating hammer
By which the steel is wrought,
Back of the workshop’s clamor
The seeker may find the Thought
Of iron and steam and steel,
That rises above disaster
And tramples it under heel!

The drudge may fret and tinker
Or labor with dusty blows,
But back of him stands the Thinker,
The clear-eyed man who knows;
For into each plow or saber,
Each piece and part and whole,
Must go the Brains of Labor,
Which gives the work a soul!

Back of the motors humming,
Back of the belts that sing,
Back of the hammers drumming,
Back of the cranes that swing,
There is the eye which scans them
Watching through stress and strain,
There is the Mind which plans them –
Back of the brawn, the Brain!

Might of the roaring boiler,
Force of the engine’s thrust,
Strength of the sweating toiler,
Greatly in these we trust.
But back of them stands the Schemer,
The thinker who drives things through;
Back of the job – the Dreamer
Who’s making the dreams come true!


The Recipe

by Berton Braley

It’s doing your job the best you can
And being just to your fellow man;
It’s making money – but holding friends
And true to your aims and ends;
It’s figuring how, and learning why,
And looking forward and thinking high,
And dreaming little, and doing much.

It’s keeping always in closest touch
With what is finest in word and deed;
It’s being thorough, yet making speed;
It’s daring blithely the field of chance
While making labor a brave romance,
It’s going onward despite defeat

And fighting staunchly, but keeping sweet;
It’s being clean and playing fair;
It’s laughing lightly at Dame Despair;
It’s looking up at the stars above
And drinking deeply of life and love.
It’s struggling on with the will to win

But taking loss with a cheerful grin;
It’s sharing sorrow and work and mirth
And making better this good old earth;
It’s serving, striving through strain and stress;
It’s doing your noblest – that’s Success!


The Builders

by Berton Braley

Never a jungle is penetrated,
Never an unknown sea is dared,
Never adventure is consummated,
Never a faint new trail is fared,
But that some dreamer has had the vision
Which leads men on to the ends of earth,
That laughs at doubting, and scorns derision,
And falters not at the cynic s mirth.

So the dreamer dreams, but there follows after
The mighty epic of steel and stone,
When caisson, scaffold and well and rafter
Have made a fact where the dream was shown;
And so with furnace and lathe and hammer,
With blast that rumbles and shaft that gleams,
Her factories crowned with a grimy glamour,
Newark buildeth the dreamers dreams.

Where the torrent leaps with a roar of thunder,
Where the bridge is built or the dam is laid,
Where the wet walled tunnel burrows under
Mountain, river and palisade,
There is Newark’s magic of nail or girder,
Of spikes and castings and posts and beams,
The need and wants of the world have spurred her,
Newark city that builds our dreams.

She has fashioned tools for the world’s rough duty,
For the men who dig and the men that hew,
She has fashioned jewels for wealth and beauty,
She has shod the prince and the pauper, too;
So the dreamer dreams, he s the wonder waker,
With soul that hungers and brain that teems,
But back of him toils the magic-maker,
Newark city that builds his dreams.


Hero Wanted

Poet: Berton Braley

A boy’s heart is a light heart,
A true heart, a clean heart.
A boy’s heart is a right heart
If it has half a chance;
It’s leal and kind and tender
A knightly and a keen heart
That glows with fire and splendor
And thrills with high romance!

A boy’s way is a lithe way,
A brave way, a strong way,
He takes his gay and blithe way
Amid the worldly throng
A-seeking for adventure
And if he goes the wrong way
Not his should be the censure
But those who lead him wrong.

A boy loves strength and vigor
Of mind and of sinew
He wants life braver, bigger
With more of zest and joy.
You must be fine and real
And give the best that’s in you
If you’d be friend, ideal,
And Hero to a boy!


Frankness Between Friends

Poet: Berton Braley

Says Henry Smith to me one day,
“I got a few short words to say,
The which, I want it understood,
I’m tellin’ you for your own good.
An’ so I’ll say, most free an’ frank,
The way you act is something rank!
You drink too much, you smoke, you chew,
You swear like common sailors do,
You gamble too, an’ lead a life
Most aggravatin’ to your wife;
An’ folks is sayin’ all the time
The way you carry on’s a crime!
Why don’t you straighten up — I would —
I’m tellin’ you for your own good!”

Says I to Mr. Henry Smith,
“Since we are just like kin an’ kith,
An’ since you told me where I fail
An’ why I oughta be in jail,
I’ll speak a little word or two
Explainin’ what is wrong with you;
The hull of which, it’s understood,
I’m tellin’ you fer your own good.

“First then,” I says, “you’re such a cheat
You swindle every one you meet,
You chant your anthems in the church
An* leave your neighbor in the lurch;
You seize an’ grab by force an’ fraud
An’ call it all the will of God.
In short, to say it brief an’ quit,
You’re miser, crook an’ hypocrite,
You’d rob a baby if you could —
I’m tellin’ you for your own good!”

But Henry Smith was very queer,
He hit me just behind the ear;
“Of course,” he says, “it’s understood,
I’m sluggin’ you for your own good!

Five coppers come up in their cart
An’ pried us old time friends apart,
They took their sticks of loaded wood
An’ clubbed us hard for our own good.

In court the Judge says, “Gentlemen,
Don’t try to be so frank again,
Be chary of the words you speak
Lest you be swatted on the cheek;
I fine you ten — it’s understood
I’m doing it for your own good.”

The moral is, don’t be too frank,
It gits you nuthin’ at the bank,
Just keep your thoughts beneath your hood,
I’m tellin’ you for your own good.


Your Land!

Poet: Berton Braley

What does your country mean to you?
Merely a place to live and make money in?
Merely a hive where you gather the honey in,
Or something that’s splendid and true?
Something that thrills you and holds you and thralls you
Something your pulses can leap and beat high for
Making you ready to serve when it calls you
Something to work and to live and to die for?
What does it mean to you?

What does your country mean to you?
Only a land that your profits are swelling in,
Only a spot that you chance to be dwelling in,
Or something that thrills you through?
A warmth in your heart and a fire in the soul of you,
A glow in your eyes and a light in your brain,
A faith that is passionate, gripping the whole of you,
A vision of glory that shall not be vain?
Or only a place where there’s business to do,
What does it mean to you?

What does your country mean to you?
Something to boast and brag for,
To cheer and to wave the flag for,
(The red and the white and blue)
And then to forget? Or is it
A land you will give devotion,
And courage and hope exquisite,
Till all of the dreams you’ve sought for
And all of the goals you’ve fought for
In this, our land, come true?
What does your country mean to you?


The Will To Win

by Berton Braley

If you want a thing bad enough
To go out and fight for it,
Work day and night for it,
Give up your time and your peace and your sleep for it

If only desire of it
Makes you quite mad enough
Never to tire of it,
Makes you hold all other things tawdry and cheap for it

If life seems all empty and useless without it
And all that you scheme and you dream is about it,
If gladly you’ll sweat for it,
Fret for it,

Plan for it,
Lose all your terror of God or man for it,
If you’ll simply go after that thing that you want.
With all your capacity,
Strength and sagacity,

Faith, hope and confidence, stern pertinacity,
If neither cold poverty, famished and gaunt,
Nor sickness nor pain
Of body or brain

Can turn you away from the thing that you want,
If dogged and grim you besiege and beset it,
You’ll get it!


Start Where You Stand

by Berton Braley

Start where you stand and never mind the past,
The past won’t help you in beginning new,
If you have left it all behind at last
Why, that’s enough, you’re done with it, you’re through;
This is another chapter in the book,
This is another race that you have planned,
Don’t give the vanished days a backward look,
Start where you stand.

The world won’t care about your old defeats
If you can start anew and win success,
The future is your time, and time is fleet
And there is much of work and strain and stress;
Forget the buried woes and dead despairs,
Here is a brand new trial right at hand,
The future is for him who does and dares,
Start where you stand.

Old failures will not halt, old triumphs aid,
To-day’s the thing, to-morrow soon will be;
Get in the fight and face it unafraid,
And leave the past to ancient history;
What has been, has been; yesterday is dead
And by it you are neither blessed nor banned,
Take courage, man, be brave and drive ahead,
Start where you stand.



by Berton Braley

Oh. Little House of Pleasant Dreams,
The dreams are fled
And you are but four empty walls
Whose soul is dead.
The garden that was magic soil
Is common loam.
And there is nothing but a house
Which was a Home.

Still through your windows shines the sun
And breathes the air.
The quaint old rugs and furniture,
Unchanged, are there;
Yet they seem bathed in ghostly light
Chill, pale and wan,
For there’s no warmth in any house
Whose dreams are gone.

Love touched you with its rosy glow
By night and day.
But love, with clipped and wounded wing
Has limped away,
And leaves a shelter — nothing more —
Of wood and stone,
A Little House of Pleasant Dreams
Whose dreams are flown!


Little Further

by Berton Braley

The reason I never can quit the road
Is a reason that’s plain and clear.
It’s because no matter where I may stop
And whether it’s far or near

There’s a place beyond the place I am,
Wherever I may be at,
And then beyond is a place beyond
And the world beyond all that!

And as long as a man has eyes to see
And a brain that wants to know,
I figure there’s things he’s bound to miss
If he doesn’t go on and go;

For there’s always a place beyond the place
I happen to hang my hat,
And another place beyond that place
And the world beyond all that!

There’s some folks stay in a single spot
Or a town of which they’re fond,
And never worry a little bit
At the thought of a place beyond;

But the place beyond the place beyond
Won’t never let me rest
For there’s a sort of a kind of urge
That’s burning within my breast-

To go and go till the end of life,
And when I’ve left it flat,
Go on beyond the place beyond;
And the universe after that!


The Joy Of Life

by Berton Braley

I’d rather risk gamely
And lose for my trying
Than grind around tamely –
A cog in the mill.
I’d rather fail greatly
With courage undying
Then plod on sedately
With never a thrill!

The game’s in the playing
And, losing or winning,
The fun’s in essaying
Your bravest and best,
In taking your chances
While Fate’s wheel is spinning,
And backing your fancies
With nerve and with zest!

Let stodgy folk censure
And timid folk quaver,
But life is an adventure
Is weary to bear,
The dangers we’re sharing
Give living its savour,
I’d rather die daring
Than never to dare!



Poet: Berton Braley

Mostly I love my fellow men,
But I get weary now and then
Of all they do and all they say,
Their way of work, of life, of play,
And on occasions such as that
I hie me to my little flat
And glower at the world, and swear
At everybody everywhere!

In wrathful dreams I take a poke
At all my friends, my foes I choke,
The idle rich, the common host,
The good and bad alike I roast,
And when the slaughter is complete
(Within my mind), why, life is sweet!
I am not often taken thus
But when I am — I’m murderous!

Mostly, I say, I love mankind,
Its funny ways I do not mind,
But just about two times a year
If I could see my pathway clear,
I’d go and find some gloomy cave
Where I could sit and rave and rave
And have my fill of angry fun
Hooting loud hoots at every one!


The Impulse

Poet: Berton Braley

Partner, I went to a picture show,
An’ gazin’ upon the screen,
My old fool eyes began to glow
When they put on a western scene.
The play itself was a foolish reel
Of villains an’ gold an’ fight,
But the country – partner, it made me feel –
Well, it kinda bedimmed my sight;

For there was the narrow desert trail
That wanders across the way,
An’ the dust that swirls in the sudden gale
An’ the sage brush, dry an’ grey,
An’ the coulee deep, an’ the water hole
An’ the old prospector’s claim,
An’ all the sights that had stirred my soul
Before I got old – an’ tame.

An’ those actor folks was western, too,
For they rode with a sort of swing
Like the old time cowboys used to do
When a cattleman still was king.
They rode their bronc’s with a careless grace
Through country rough an’ bare,
It was only a reel – but my blood would race,
For the scenes that I loved were there!

I guess the country has seen a change
Its wildest of tales is told,
It ain’t the west that I used to range
In the rollicking days of old,
But the peaks are white with the ancient snow
An’ the sky is the same blue dome,
Partner, I went to a picture show –
An’ I reckon I’m goin’ home!


The Safety Valve

Poet: Berton Braley

There’s something in us, every one,
A queer unrest that gets us all,
And till the game of life is done
It irritates and frets us all.
Some seek to drown it deep in drink
Despite the carpers’ caviling;
And some in crime and some in – ink;
I’m travelling, just travelling!

The gambler’s joy is in the game,
The lover’s in his amorous
And fervid wooing. Some for fame
And all it means are clamorous.
I leave the statesman to his state,
The chairman to his gavelling,
The while with heart and mind elate
I’m travelling, just travelling.

From land to land, from sea to sea
Where life is brightest, breeziest,
I take the road that seems to me
The kindest and the easiest;
And so, though swiftly, day by day
My skein of life’s unravelling,
I’ll still be gayly on my way
Travelling, just travelling!


The Commuter

Poet: Berton Braley

He eats his breakfast worriedly
His eye upon the clock
Then seeks the station hurriedly
And runs the final block.
He has a grave propensity
To miss the 8.15
Which brings that strained intensity
Upon his harried mien.

His day is spent in laboring
For gold with fervid vim
So that commuters neighbouring
May have no edge on him,
And just to make more humorous
His day of toil and fret
His wife has errands numerous
Which he must not forget.

He hurries back in summer time
To mow and rake the lawn.
In winter’s greyer, glummer time
When all the grass is gone
He rushes homeward hastily
To shovel off the snow
And heap it up quite tastily
Or make the furnace go.

When shows and things occur by night
He rarely sees them through
His train — ah poor suburbanite
Leaves at 11.02,
And yet with noble bravery
He glories in his chains
Although his life’s a slavery
To schedules and trains!


The Sea Wind

Poet: Berton Braley

Below the skyline drops the shore,
The long, grim graybacks lift and fall,
Against the bows they crash and roar,
The engine throbs, the sea gulls call,
And salt against my pallid face
There comes the challenge bold and free
Of that world tramp who roams through space,
The wind – the wind of open sea!

Here is no breeze of drowsy lanes
Nor breath of crowded towns and stale,
This is the wind that sweeps the mains
And leaps along the trackless trail,
And with its savor on my lips
The ancient joy comes back to me,
Of those who dared – in Viking ships –
The wind – the wind of open sea!

It blows from out the vasty skies
Across the tumbling sea’s expanse,
It stings to deeds of high emprise,
It sings of glamor and romance;
Chill, clean and strong – my pulses leap,
My heart is filled with buoyant glee,
I greet the rover of the deep,
The wind – the wind of open sea!


We Serve

Poet: Berton Braley

Not by cheers alone or the flattering vaunt of speeches
Is the strength of a nation shown in the strain of the crucial hour
But by trust in a righteous cause and a glorious love that reaches
Deep down to a people’s soul with its searching and poignant power,

So the flags that float on the breeze have a tarnished and tawdry splendour
If they are not raised aloft by hands that are leal and true,
And the test of our loyal might is the faith that we gladly render,
Not the words that our tongues may speak, but the tangible deeds we do.

All that our fathers dreamed of, all that they ever sought for
When they shivered at Valley Forge and battled at Bunker Hill,
Is again at stake in the world – a guerdon that must be fought for;
It is ours to hold and defend with all of our strength and will;

And if we would keep our banners proudly and freely flying
We must gird ourselves as others have girded themselves of old
And prove by the fact of service, living or bravely dying,
That the torch our fathers carried has never grown dim or cold.

Not by cheers alone, or waving of flags and singing
Is a nation’s spirit shown, but only when brain and nerve
Are trained to the instant need – and the nation’s call is bringing
Her bravest children forth – crying,
“We Serve! We Serve!”


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