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Poems About Men

Table of Contents

  1. If— by Rudyard Kipling
  2. Men O' The Forest Mark by Jean Blewett
  3. The Rugged Sons of Maine by Douglas Malloch
  4. The Manly Life by Henry van Dyke
  5. Difficult Definition by Anonymous
  6. The Outlaw by Charles Badger Clark
  7. A Man by Emily Dickinson
  8. True Nobility by Robert Nicoll
  9. A Man's a Man for A' That by Robert Burns
  10. The Lumberjack by Douglas Malloch
  11. Heroes of the "Titanic" by Henry Van Dyke

True manliness is in harmony with gentleness, kindness, and self-denial.

– M. O. Johnson
McGuffey's Fourth Eclectic Reader
  1. If—

    by Rudyard Kipling

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

    If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

  2. Men O' The Forest Mark

    by Jean Blewett

    What we most need is men of worth,
    Men o' the forest mark,
    Of lofty height and mighty girth
    And green, unbroken bark.

    Not men whom circumstances
    Have stunted, wasted, sapped,
    Men fearful of fighting chances,
    Clinging to by-paths mapped.

    Holding honor and truth below
    Promotion, place and pelf;
    Weaklings that change as winds do blow,
    Lost in their love of self.

    Tricksters playing a game unfair
    (Count them, sirs, at this hour),
    Ready to dance to maddest air
    Piped by the man in power.

    The need, sore need, of this young land
    Is honest men, good sirs,
    Men as her oak trees tall and grand,
    Staunch as her stalwart firs.

    Steadfast, unswerving, first and last,
    Fearless of front and strong,
    Meeting the challenge of the blast
    With high, clear battle song.

    Not sapless things of the byways,
    Lacking in life and strength,
    Not shrivelled shrubs of the highways,
    Pigmy of breadth and length,

    But noblest growth of God's green earth—
    Men o' the forest mark,
    Of lofty height and giant girth
    And green, unbroken bark.

  3. The Rugged Sons of Maine

    by Douglas Malloch

    Beneath the spruce tree and the pine
    Were little children reared
    And something of that regal line
    In their own blood appeared.
    For they were mighty, like the tree
    In form and heart and brain
    And grew in stately dignity—
    The rugged sons of Maine.

    Their cradle was the bough that swings,
    Their lullaby the breeze
    That strikes the forest's waiting strings
    And wakes its harmonies.
    They laved their feet in purling brooks
    That tumble to the plain,
    And learned from Nature more than books-
    The rugged sons of Maine.

    No terrors in the forest dwelt
    Or through the forest crept—
    It was the altar where they knelt,
    The chamber where they slept.
    They walked its solemn aisles secure
    From want or care or pain,
    In health and vigor rich, though poor—
    The rugged sons of Maine.

    The rugged sons of Maine have stamped
    Their impress on the world,
    Beneath the battleflag have tramped
    Where death's tornado whirled.
    The peacetime's greater victories
    Have felt the hand and brain
    Of children of the forest trees—
    The rugged sons of Maine.

    And some there were who left the wild
    To other hills to roam,
    But never does the forest child
    Forget the forest home.
    Remembering its tender love
    In sunshine and in rain,
    They proudly wear the title of
    The rugged sons of Maine.

  4. The Manly Life

    by Henry van Dyke. This poem is also known as Four Things

    Four things a man must learn to do
    If he would make his record true:
    To think without confusion clearly;
    To love his fellow-men sincerely;
    To act from honest motives purely;
    To trust in God and Heaven securely.

  5. Difficult Definition

    by Amos Russel Wells

    What is a man? A bit of clay
    The rain dissolves and floats away;

    A diamond of lustre rare,
    Forever firm, forever fair;

    A bubble dancing on the stream,
    An empty film, a bursting gleam;

    A king upon a dateless throne,
    With all eternity his own;

    A mockery of love and hate,
    The play of time, the sport of fate;

    The conqueror of endless life,
    Victorious in every strife;

    Compact of virtue and of sin,
    Creation's matchiess harlequin;

    And each of these, in devious plan,
    Discernible in every man!

    Why, what Superior Scientist,
    What Erudite Anatomist,

    Could pick these creatures from the bog,
    And classify and catalogue?

  6. The Outlaw

    by Charles Badger Clark

    When my rope takes hold on a two-year-old,
    By the foot or the neck or the horn,
    He kin plunge and fight till his eyes go white
    But I'll throw him as sure as you're born.
    Though the taut ropes sing like a banjo string
    And the latigoes creak and strain,
    Yet I got no fear of an outlaw steer
    And I'll tumble him on the plain.

    For a man is a man, but a steer is a beast,
    And the man is the boss of the herd,
    And each of the bunch, from the biggest to least,
    Must come down when he says the word.

    When my leg swings 'cross on an outlaw hawse
    And my spurs clinch into his hide,
    He kin r'ar and pitch over hill and ditch,
    But wherever he goes I'll ride.
    Let 'im spin and flop like a crazy top
    Or flit like a wind-whipped smoke,
    But he'll know the feel of my rowelled heel
    Till he's happy to own he's broke.

    For a man is a man and a hawse is a brute,
    And the hawse may be prince of his clan
    But he'll bow to the bit and the steel-shod boot
    And own that his boss is the man.

    When the devil at rest underneath my vest
    Gets up and begins to paw
    And my hot tongue strains at its bridle reins,
    Then I tackle the real outlaw.
    When I get plumb riled and my sense goes wild
    And my temper is fractious growed,
    If he'll hump his neck just a triflin' speck,
    Then it's dollars to dimes I'm throwed.

    For a man is a man, but he's partly a beast.
    He kin brag till he makes you deaf,
    But the one lone brute, from the west to the east,
    That he kaint quite break is himse'f.

  7. A Man

    by Emily Dickinson

    Fate slew him, but he did not drop;
    She felled — he did not fall —
    Impaled him on her fiercest stakes —
    He neutralized them all.

    She stung him, sapped his firm advance,
    But, when her worst was done,
    And he, unmoved, regarded her,
    Acknowledged him a man.

  8. True Nobility

    Robert Nicoll

    I ask not for his lineage,
    I ask not for his name;
    If manliness be in his heart, He noble birth may claim.
    I care not though of this world’s wealth But slender be his part,
    If yes, you answer, when I ask Hath he a true man’s heart?

    I ask not from what land he came, Nor where his youth was nursed;
    If pure the stream, it matters not The spot from whence it burst.
    The palace or the hovel,
    Where first his life began,
    I seek not for; but answer this, Is he an honest man?

  9. A Man's a Man for A' That

    by Robert Burns. Also know as "Is Ther for Honest Poverty"

    Is there for honesty poverty
    That hings his head, an' a' that;
    The coward slave — we pass him by,
    We dare be poor for a' that!
    For a' that, an' a' that,
    Our toils obscure an' a' that,
    The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
    The man's the gowd for a' that.

    What though on hamely fare we dine,
    Wear hoddin grey, an' a' that?
    Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine,
    A man's a man for a' that.
    For a' that, an' a' that,
    Their tinsel show, an' a' that,
    The honest man, tho' e'er sae poor,
    Is king o' men for a' that.

    Ye see yon birkie ca'd a lord,
    Wha struts, an' stares, an' a' that;
    Tho' hundreds worship at his word,
    He's but a coof for a' that.
    For a' that, an' a' that,
    His ribband, star, an' a' that,
    The man o' independent mind
    He looks an' laughs at a' that.

    A price can mak a belted knight,
    A marquise, duke, an' a' that;
    But an honest man's aboon his might,
    Gude faith, he maunna fa' that!
    For a' that, an' a' that,
    Their dignities an' a' that,
    The pith o' sense, an' pride o' worth,
    Are higher rank than a' that.

    Then let us pray that come it may,
    (As come it will for a' that,)
    That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth,
    Shall bear the gree, an' a' that.
    For a' that, an' a' that,
    That man to man, the world o'er,
    Shall brithers be for a' that.

  10. The Lumberjack

    by Douglas Malloch

    An untamed creature of the forest wilds,
    He lives to that wild place a soul akin—
    A man whose days are often steeped in sin,
    And yet whose heart is tender as a child's.

    His strength is like the strength of mighty pines,
    His outward form a bark of many scars;
    His head he carries proudly in the stars,
    The while his feet are meshed in tangled vines.

    Calamities throw viselike tendrils out
    To seize him in their hindering embrace;
    The thorns of wrong whip sharply in his face
    And poisoned things encompass him about.

    He braves disease, the storm, the falling tree,
    The mad, quick water that would hold and drown;
    But all earth's terrors cannot bear him down
    Or make this man of dangers bend the knee.

    He breathes the air the sturdy maple breathes,
    He walks the soil the selfsame maple feeds;
    To forest sources looks he for his needs—
    Oh, where are trees and men like unto these?

  11. Heroes of the "Titanic"

    by Henry van Dyke

    Honour the brave who sleep
    Where the lost "Titanic" lies,
    The men who knew what a man must do
    When he looks Death in the eyes.

    "Women and children first,"—
    Ah strong and tender cry!
    The sons whom women had borne and nursed,
    Remembered,—and dared to die.

    The boats crept off in the dark:
    The great ship groaned: and then,—
    O stars of the night, who saw that sight,
    Bear witness, These were men!

We want great men who, when fortune frowns, will not be discouraged.

– Henry Knox, Colonel in the Continental Army
written to his wife after the Battle of Long Island on Aug 27, 1776

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