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you never can tell (not the Wilcox poem)
Posted by: climber9 (72.51.144.---)
Date: June 06, 2008 03:22PM

Can someone please help me out? I've been trying to track this one down for years. It's a very clever poem about two boys. One is loved by all and voted most likely to succeed; everyone predicts the other will come to a bad end. They grow up and the first boy, the one voted most likely to succeed, becomes governor of the state or something and the other, whom everyone said would come to a bad end, spends most of his life in prison or something like that. I'm pretty sure the poem ends "you never can tell." I think I was given this poem in high school. Can anyone identify it for me?


Re: you never can tell (not the Wilcox poem)
Posted by: JohnnyBoy (71.249.169.---)
Date: June 06, 2008 04:08PM

Franklin P. Adams. 1881–

89. Those Two Boys

WHEN Bill was a lad he was terribly bad.
He worried his parents a lot;
He'd lie and he'd swear and pull little girls' hair;
His boyhood was naught but a blot.

At play and in school he would fracture each rule— 5
In mischief from autumn to spring;
And the villagers knew when to manhood he grew
He would never amount to a thing.

When Jim was a child he was not very wild;
He was known as a good little boy; 10
He was honest and bright and the teacher's delight—
To his mother and father a joy.

All the neighbors were sure that his virtue'd endure,
That his life would be free of a spot;
They were certain that Jim had a great head on him 15
And that Jim would amount to a lot.

And Jim grew to manhood and honor and fame
And bears a good name;
While Bill is shut up in a dark prison cell—
You never can tell. 20


Re: you never can tell (not the Wilcox poem)
Posted by: IanAKB (203.217.70.---)
Date: June 06, 2008 04:53PM

What an odd poem. Are you sure you have the last verse right, Johnny? As it reads, it just proves everyone could tell. To make the last line point, it should be Bill who ends up an upright citizen and Jim in the slammer.

Or is the point that you never can tell how a poet is going to end a poem? Reminds me of this little rhymer:

They said it couldn't be done.
With a smile he went right to it.
He tackled the thing that "couldn't be done"
And couldn't do it.

Ian

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/06/2008 05:57PM by IanAKB.


Re: you never can tell (not the Wilcox poem)
Posted by: JohnnyBoy (68.194.80.---)
Date: June 06, 2008 04:56PM

Ian, I totally agree....and it does seem to end abruptly, and I also doubt that the author was born in 1881 and is still around !


Re: you never can tell (not the Wilcox poem)
Posted by: climber9 (72.51.144.---)
Date: June 07, 2008 08:24PM

Thanks for the reference. I think you're missing the point, though. It's not what the townspeople expect; it's what you, the reader, expect, which of course, by the internal logic of narrative itself, is a reversal of fortune.


Re: you never can tell (not the Wilcox poem)
Posted by: JohnnyBoy (24.189.158.---)
Date: June 07, 2008 09:09PM

It is the change in meter that I find askew, it cries out to be something like:

And Jim grew to manhood and honor and fame
And bears what they call a good name;
While Bill is shut up in a dark prison cell—
Who says that you never can tell?


Re: you never can tell (not the Wilcox poem)
Posted by: JohnnyBoy (24.189.158.---)
Date: June 07, 2008 09:14PM

Now, this:

[balladeer.netpoets.net] />
is a better example of you never can tell !


Re: you never can tell (not the Wilcox poem)
Posted by: ilza-maria (200.162.233.---)
Date: June 09, 2008 09:29AM

Franklin P. Adams was an editor, poet, a great friend of Dorothy Parker
and all the group of The Algonquin Round Table.

The end is just like what one should expect from him,
- this sudden drop at the end ...

he died in 1960




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