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A Modest Man’s Ambition

From the Rock Island Argus, July 17, 1913. By Henry Howland.

I’d like to live on Easy Street for just a little while;
I’d like to have a cushioned seat and daily cause to smile;
I’d like to have the right to say to some pale-featured clerk:
“I guess that I’ll play golf today, but you stay here and work.”
It must be fine, it seems to me, to merely boss a job
And have so much that one can be well hated by the mob.

This thing of working day by day, without a chance to rest,
While others put their tasks away and journey east and west,
Sometimes becomes a kind of grind, devoid of any thrill;
One’s muscles slacken and one’s mind becomes more flabby still;
I wish that I, from toiling free, had riches that were vast,
So that the mob might scowl at me when I rode proudly past.

I should not wish to always loaf, without a single care;
The idler is a useless oaf whose outlook is unfair,
But, oh, I fancy ‘twould be good to have things fashioned so
That if I wished to quit I could, and pack my things and go.
And it would give me such delight to see them look with hate
Who’ve never tried to earn the right to quit their present state.

I am not yearning to have more than any man would need;
I’d want a butler at my door, but I’m opposed to greed;
I’d have an auto and a yacht and live in splendid style;
To trouble I should give no thought, I’d wear a constant smile;
I’d let my chest bulge out with pride, with pride my heart should throb,
If I possessed so much that I’d be hated by the mob.

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