Eugene Field


There is a certain Yankee phrase
  I always have revered,
Yet, somehow, in these modern days,
  It's almost disappeared;
It was the usage years ago,
  But nowadays it's got
To be regarded coarse and low
  To answer: "I guess not!"

The height of fashion called the pink
  Affects a British craze—
Prefers "I fancy" or "I think"
  To that time-honored phrase;
But here's a Yankee, if you please,
  That brands the fashion rot,
And to all heresies like these
  He answers, "I—guess not!"—

When Chaucer, Wycliff, and the rest
  Express their meaning thus,
I guess, if not the very best,
  It's good enough for us!
Why! shall the idioms of our speech
  Be banished and forgot
For this vain trash which moderns teach?
  Well, no, sir; I guess not!

There's meaning in that homely phrase
  No other words express—
No substitute therefor conveys
  Such unobtrusive stress.
True Anglo-Saxon speech, it goes
  Directly to the spot,
And he who hears it always knows
  The worth of "I—guess—not!"

English Poetry - E-mail