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On the Vanity of Earthly Greatness -- Arthur Guiterman

Following on from Ozymandias...
(Poem #24) On the Vanity of Earthly Greatness
The tusks which clashed in mighty brawls
Of mastodons, are billiard balls.

The sword of Charlemagne the Just
Is Ferric Oxide, known as rust.

The grizzly bear, whose potent hug,
Was feared by all, is now a rug.

Great Caesar's bust is on the shelf,
And I don't feel so well myself.
-- Arthur Guiterman
A refreshingly humorous spin on the subject - the punchline drops into place
neatly. Guiterman has written a number of vaguely Nashish poems, of which
this is probably the most famous - personally, the only other things I'd
heard of his were the following fragment:

  Of all cold words of tongue or pen
  The worst are these: "I knew him when--"
        -Arthur Guiterman, 'Prophets in Their Own Country'

and, From Richard Lederer's 'Adventures of a Verbivore' (good book, btw):

  "It's not true that no words rhyme with orange . . . However, there was a
  man -- I'm not kidding -- named Henry Honeychurch Gorringe.  He was a naval
  commander who in the midnineteenth century oversaw the transport of
  Cleopatra's Needle to New York's Central Park.  Pouncing on this event, the
  poet Arthur Guiterman wrote:

        In Sparkhill buried lies a man of a mark
        Who brought the Obelisk to Central Park,
        Redoubtable Commander H. H. Gorringe,
        Whose name supplies the long-sought rhyme for orange.

  So orange is rhymable."

He does not appear to have led the world's most interesting life either -
some dedicated websearching turned up the  following, which for lack of a
better name I'll call a

Biographical Note:

  Guiterman, Arthur, American poet, 1871-1943.


34 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Barbara Thompson said...

I am looking for a poem by Arthur Guiterman titled "Pershing at the
Front". I can't find it anywhere.

Ilza Carvalho said...

actually Guiterman did have a great life ...
- you can read about him in Famous American Humorous poets,
by Everett S. SAllen

Jaadubb said...

If you've ever seen or read Arthur Guiterman's humorous poetry the likes of
Pershing at the Front, Strictly Germ Proof (1910) , The Dogs Cold Nose or
Little Lost Pup, you get the feeling you're reading Theodore Geisel.

Sam & Jew said...


Thank you for posting Arthur's poem on the web. I am looking for information about Arthur Guiterman. I have searched the net and found nothing. Can you please help me.
Thank You


Richard Haluska said...

I've been looking for "Pershing at the Front" for years. I didn't even
know the author's name until today. I read it in a literature anthology
in 7th or 8th grade, around 1960. Does anyone know its whereabouts?

Richard H.

Ruth Ann Danielson said...

I found "Pershing at the Front" by simply putting that title into my search
engine, Google.
I knew about this poem from my jr. high years when I learned it in
connection with a choral reading group I was a member of, about 8 years
earlier than your jr. high years. Maybe this is just something that clicks
with early teens.

Herbert Patterson said...

while looking up Arthur Guiterman I found your posting and you mention "Little lost pup" and "Dogs cold noses" Do you have copies of these poems or a web site where I can fine them. I looked for them on the web but havent been able to find them....

thank you,,,please respond to and not this email address.....
I'm using my father email and if you respond to this address I won't get the info. thanks for any help,


GrandmaBarb51 said...

Please let me know where I can find his poem Little lost Arthur
Guiterman...I recall it as a child and would like to read it to my
granddaughter....thank you....

Here is all that I can remember

Little lost pup.....alone was he.....for he never barked at a slinking cat,
but stood in the sqaure where the wind blew raw
With drooping ears and trembling paws, etc.....LOL!

Leenane8 said...

Does anyone have any info on
one of those sad Irish poems with notes
by Arthur Guiterman
MP Cahill

ronaldmosier said...

Not only does he rhyme with orange,
Redoubtable Commander Gorringe,
But sailed the seas, did H. H. Gorringe,
Which thus makes him a navel orange.

Gorringe is the Pits -- Ron Mosier

ronaldmosier said...

Improved version -
Not only does he rhyme with orange,
Redoubtable Commander Gorringe,
But sailed the seas, did H. H. Gorringe,
Which thus makes him a Navel Gorringe.

Ron Mosier

GrandmaBarb51 said...

From GrandmaBarb51

Does anyone have any info as to where I can find this poem? (Title of book
it is in)

(This is all I can remember)

The Little Lost Pup, by Arthur Guiterman

He was lost, not a shade of a doubt in that
For he never barked at a slinking cat
But stood in the square where the wind blew raw
With drooping ears and a trembling paw.
With a mournful look in his pleading eyes
And a plaintive sniff at a passer-by.
That begged as plain as a tongue could sue,
"Oh, Mister! Please may I follow you?"
Oh the saddest of sights in a world of sin
Is a little lost pup with his tail tucked in!

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