Speaking broadly, I would like to discuss two aspects of Braley's work, theme and style. I have found myself extremely impressed and entranced by both.
Recently, I discovered that he attributes most of his stylistic talent to Tom Hood, the author of "Rhymester." Here's a little excerpt from one of Braley's essays:
["Rhymester]brushed aside all the bunk about "poetic license" and pointed out that when the "great ones" had rhymed "river" and "ever," for an example, the great ones had cheated- and that the young versifier wouldn't become a great one by copying genius in its slipshod moments. Tom Hood told me, when I was eighteen, that there was no such thing as "allowable rhyme." That two words either rhymed or they didn't.
Braley's sense of black-and-white is also reflected in his poetry, where the evil are vehemently damned and the good are given praise. He was pro-capitalism, pro-technology, pro-individual, and definitely pro-reson. Here's an example of his better work: "The Thinker"
Back of the beating hammer
By which the steel is wrought,
Back of the workshop's clamor
The seeker may find the Thought,
The Thought that is ever master
Of iron and steam and steel,
That rises above disaster
And tramples it under heel!
The drudge may fret and tinker
Or labor with lusty blows,
But back of him stands the Thinker,
The clear-eyed man who knows;
For into each plow or saber,
Each piece and part and whole,
Must go the Brains of Labor,
Which gives the work a soul!
Back of the motors humming
Back of the belts that sing,
Back of the hammers drumming.
Back of the cranes that swing,
There is the eye which scans them
Watching through stress and strain
There is the Mind which plans them-
Back of the brawn, the Brain!
Might of the roaring boiler,
Force of the engine's thrust,
Strength of the sweating toiler-
Greatly in these we trust.
But back of them stands the Schemer,
The Thinker who drives things through;
Back of the Job-the Dreamer
Who's making the dream come true!
So my questions are, who here has heard of Berton Braley, and what do think of him? I have yet to find out anything negative about his work or his life.
And if you haven't heard of Berton Braley, you can read a wide selection of his work here.