Berton Braley

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Berton Braley ca 1923

Berton Braley (29 January 1882 – 23 January 1966) was an American poet.

Life and work

Braley was born in Madison, Wisconsin. His father, Arthur B. Braley, was a judge; he died when Berton Braley was seven years old. At 16, Braley quit high school and got a job working as a factory hand at a plow plant. After a few years, Braley went back to school and received his high school diploma. Shortly thereafter he discovered Tom Hood's poetry instructional book The Rhymester.

Braley was first published at the age of 11 when a small publication printed a fairy tale he wrote. He was a prolific writer, with verses in many magazines, including Coal Age, American Machinist, Nation's Business, Forbes magazine, Harper's Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, and the Saturday Evening Post. His work appeared in numerous pulp magazines, including Adventure, Breezy Stories, Complete Stories, The Popular Magazine, Short Stories and Snappy Stories. He published twenty books, about half of them being poetry collections.

In 1917, John Philip Sousa composed a marching song for the University of Wisconsin, titled Wisconsin Forward Forever with lyrics by Berton Braley. In 1934, Braley published the autobiographical Pegasus Pulls a Hack: Memoirs of a Modern Minstrel.

His poem "Do It Now" became widely reprinted after 1915. The poem begins:[1][2]

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If with pleasure you are viewing any work a man is doing, If you like him or you love him, tell him now.

The poem was also set as a hymn in Presbyterian hymnbooks and sung by glee clubs.[3]

His other popular poems include "Start where you stand"

List of works

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  • Sonnets of a Freshman (1904)
  • Sonnets of a Suffragette (1913)
  • Songs of the Workaday World (1915)
  • Things As They Are (1916)
  • In Camp and Trench: Songs of the Fighting Forces (1918)
  • Buddy Ballads: Songs of the A.E.F. (1919)
  • The World's One Thousand Best Poems (1929) (as editor-in-chief)

Poetry collections

  • Abrams, Linda Tania (editor). Virtues in Verse: The Best of Berton Braley. California, The Atlantean Press. 1993. ISBN 0-9626854-3-7.


  1. The Daily Times-News 29 December 1964 Page 12 "This brings to mind some favorite lines by Burton Braley, entitled, "Do it Now." "If with pleasure you are viewing, any work a man is doing; If you like him or you "
  2. The Music Magazine/Musical Courier -1942 Volume 126 - Page 28 "BERNARD L. GOLDMAN. Medium .50 Inspired by Burton Braley's stirring poem, first discovered by the readers of the Saturday Evening Post, this song- carries n magnificent message for today. The challenge :"
  3. The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 1982 -- Page 182 "Sometimes he said that the old Burton Braley song "Do It Now," which used to grace Presbyterian hymnbooks and which Kincaid and his glee club often sang, summed up his philosophy of getting along in life. As one stanza of the hymn reads, ..."

External links

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