Guess

A poem by 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!"

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