The Poem General Patton Did Not Write

The True Story of Merton Quirk, Morton Quirk, and General George S. Patton, Jr.

General George S. Patton, Jr.

W. Sterling Atwater (1934 photo)

Transcript (+ updated*) (Click to enlarge)

REFERENCE:  B  AND  B  3c-24614

As Head of the Division of Provision for Revision
Was a man of prompt decision – Merton Quirk.
Ph.D. in Calisthenics, P. D. Q. in Pathogenics
He has just the proper background for the work.

From the pastoral aroma of Aloma, Oklahoma
With a pittance of a salary in hand
His acceptance had been whetted, even aided and abetted
By emolument that netted some five grand.

So, with energy ecstatic this fanatic left his attic
And hastened on to Washington, D.C.
Where with the vigor of a tracker, he went hunting for the slacker
In the lab'rinth of the W. P. B.

After months of patient process Merton's spicular proboscis
Had unearthed a reprehensible hiatus
In reply by Blair and Blair to his thirteenth questionnaire
In connection with their inventory status.

They had written – “Your directive when effective was defective
In its ultimate objective – and what's more
Neolithic hieroglyphic is, to us, much more specific
Than the drivel you keep dumping at our door.”

This sacrilege discovered, Merton fainted – but recovered
Sufficiently to write, “We are convinced
That sabotage is camouflaged behind perverted persiflage –
Expect me on the 22nd inst.”

But first he sent a checker, then he sent a checker's checker.
Still nothing was disclosed as being wrong.
So a checker's checker's checker came to check the checker's checker
And the process was laborious and long.

Then followed a procession of the follow-up profession
Through the records of the firm of Blair and Blair.
From breakfast until supper some new super-follow-upper
Tore his hair because of Merton's questionnaire.

The file is closed, completed, though our Hero, undefeated
Carries on in some Department as before.
And Victory is in sight, not because of – but in spite
Of Merton's mighty efforts in the War.
— W. S. A.
(Click to enlarge)

By Ron Clark and Merritt Clark
(contact info)

This article is an analysis of the publication history of the poem titled
    “REFERENCE: B AND B 3c-24614
      FILE: INV. FORM A62B-M. Q.”

The authorship of this poem has been incorrectly attributed to General George S. Patton, but it was actually written by W. Sterling Atwater, the great-uncle of this article's authors, and first published in April, 1943. The poem is shown in the sidebars to the right.

We also now know that the poem was widely re-printed in many newspapers and periodicals during the period 1943-1945, often under other titles, and mostly without any author credit. The publication history of the poem has only recently been able to be researched, due to the large number of old newspapers and books becoming available in digital format on the internet. This publication history, in over 100 worldwide newspapers and periodicals, is documented in this article. To use a modern term, the poem “went viral.”

There are interesting back-stories that describe how and why the investigation of this poem's history came about, but the important point is that the poem was published in a 1991 book of the collected poems of General George S. Patton, and has made its way onto a variety of internet websites, with Patton listed as the author. This authorship credit has been proven incorrect, and so acknowledged by the editor of the Patton poetry book.

Discussion of this poem, its versions, its many publications, and our investigations spreads in many directions. More detailed discussion is organized into the following sections:

Overview: the original poem, attribution to General Patton, & our investigations

The poem was originally published on April 13, 1943 on page 1 of the Boston News Bureau, a now-defunct Boston newspaper. Microfilm archives exist at the New York Public Library. A copy of the poem as published on page 1 is shown in the sidebar to the lower right (click to enlarge), and in the transcript to the above right (click to enlarge). (Note: this transcript has a one-line update of language, explained later).
The initials “W.S.A.” appear with the poem, which is known (from family history) to be W. Sterling Atwater.

The poem was also published the next day, April 14, 1943, in the New Haven Register newspaper, with the initials “W.S.A.”, and the line “from the Boston News Bureau”.

We know from family oral history that W. Sterling Atwater enjoyed writing poetry and submitted poems to newspapers for publication. He told family members he wrote the subject poem, and gave an original clipping of the New Haven Register poem to his great-nephew around 1944, who memorized it and has enjoyed reciting it for many years. W. Sterling Atwater also had at least one other poem published by the Boston News Bureau newspaper, in 1944. This second poem was much more serious, and had its own sad story surrounding it; this part of the story is included at the very end of this article.

In 1991, the poem was included in the book “The Poems of General George S. Patton, Jr.: Lines of Fire”, edited by Carmine A. Prioli. The version of the poem in this book had several small differences from the original April 1943 version, discussed later.

In 1998, two relatives of W. Sterling Atwater wrote to Dr. Prioli about this apparent incorrect attribution of the poem to General Patton, and Dr. Prioli acknowledged the error. In a letter of reply dated November 24, 1998, he wrote

“I must thank you for setting the record straight. It seems incontrovertible that your great uncle, W. Sterling Atwater, must have been the author of “Reference,” the poem I mistakenly attributed to General Patton.”

This poem was found on a typewritten sheet, among Patton's papers, along with many other poems written by him. The inclusion of the poem in the book of Patton's poetry was a simple mistake in attribution, at a time when none of the material currently on the internet was available. More detail about the attribution of the poem to General Patton is contained in the later section “The Patton Version of the Poem”.

Note: While this article focuses on the one poem that General Patton did not write, it should be noted that he was an avid amateur poet, as the 85 other poems published in Dr. Prioli's book demonstrate. Although Patton's poems were not published as a collection until 1991, his papers were publicly available to biographers in the Library of Congress, and the movie Patton (1970) contains a scene in which Patton recites several lines from one of his own poems, “Through a Glass Darkly”. (See this scene on YouTube, click here.)

The whole story of the investigation that led to the exchange of letters with Dr. Prioli is told later in this article, and Dr. Prioli's letter is reproduced.

In 1998, when the initial investigation took place, the only copies of this poem on the internet were taken from Dr. Prioli's book, and were located on a few websites devoted to information about General George S. Patton. Although crediting Patton as the author was incorrect, we did not undertake then to correct this misinformation.

When we came back 18 years later in 2016 to renew an interest in the history of the poem, we found two important changes:

We have decided it's time to publicly set the record straight, with this article on the internet serving as documentation about the poem and its history.

It is requested that websites and other re-publications of this poem which propagate the incorrect authorship credit to George S. Patton make some note of the correct author credit. They are free to cite this article as a reference.

Attribution to General Patton

In 1991, the poem was included in the book The Poems of General George S. Patton, Jr.: Lines of Fire, edited by Carmine A. Prioli.

In correspondence about the poem, in 1998, Dr. Prioli explained how the poem was included in the book of Patton's poetry.

As soon as I read your letter I went back to my files and located my copies of the Patton manuscripts. The poems themselves are deposited in two collections, one at the Library of Congress and the other at the US military academy at West Point. They exist in handwritten and typewritten form. The manuscript of “Reference” is contained in the Library of Congress archives along with most of Patton's other poems. I've enclosed a Xerox copy, so you can see that it's one of the typewritten poems. There are a few relatively minor differences between this version and the one that you sent me, but the major difference is that the copy in the Patton papers does not display the initials “W.S.A.” Had these initials been there, I would not have included the poem among those composed by Patton. (He did not always append his name to his poems, but whenever he did he used the initials “G.S.P.” or sometimes just “-G-.” The numbers in the margin are the ones I wrote on my copy of the poem.) However, since the poem was among Patton's other poems and there was no attribution to anyone else, I simply assumed it was written by the General.

I did have some reservations, though. The poem struck me as more polished than most of the General's other verses, even though the humor was very like his own. There were other minor problems, too, especially the reference to “the firm of Blair and Blair.” When I shared the poem with Patton's daughter, Ruth Ellen, she couldn't identify the reference either. But she knew her father's poetry better than anyone, and did not say that the poem was not his. In a way, I took her acceptance of the poem as an additional evidence of her father's authorship.

At the time the mistake was discovered, in 1998, Dr. Prioli offered a plausible explanation of how the poem might have ended up among Patton's papers, suggesting Mrs. Patton (who lived outside Boston during the war) saw the poem in the Boston News Bureau and re-typed it and sent it to her husband, who would have enjoyed the satiric commentary on Washington bureaucracy. Now, in hindsight it now seems almost certain that Patton's copy came from a different published copy of the poem, of which we now know there were many. And it was so widespread that anyone might have sent Patton a copy.

We have not tried to catalog the websites where the poem has been or currently is listed as one of Patton's poems. Websites come and go, and contents change. One can Google the phrase “division of provision for revision” or “checker's checker's checker”, plus “Patton” to find current websites containing the Patton version of the poem.

Discovering the poem 'went viral': W.S. Atwater's poem re-published, 1943-1960

The astonishing new news in 2016 when we revisited the poem story, and again in 2023, was the number of copies found on the internet in digitized old newspapers, journals and other periodicals, from the Washington Post to the Congressional Record, to The West Australian newspaper in Perth, Australia. The poem clearly resonated with many audiences during 1943-1945, and later. It seems to have found favor with anyone who interacted with the government bureaucracy during the war, which was of course nearly everyone. Based on the number of industry trade journals it has shown up in, the poem was especially popular in the industries supporting wartime production.

The list at the bottom of this page includes items from the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, and New Zealand. There are newspapers, trade magazines, law journals, and more. Amazingly, only a very few New England newspapers acknowledged it came from the Boston New Bureau and gave credit to “W.S.A.” as the author. In most re-prints, the author is mostly claimed to be anonomous, although a few indicate the poem was copied from another publication, or indicate the poem was submitted by a reader. A few seem to claim authorship for someone else entirely.

The list at the bottom of this page does not include websites that have copied the poem from Dr. Prioli's Patton Poetry book, which would be recognized by the unique 'Patton version' of the poem.

Evidence of Widespread Recognition

In addition to the many newspapers, journals, and other publications that printed the poem, later web searches have also uncovered a number of references to the poem that suggest it may have been widely known and recognizable, perhaps at least in certain industries or professions where the impact of bureaucarcy was felt. These sources for these examples are listed below under the heading References, Snippets and Other Uses. Examples include:

The original 1998 investigation - Details

The first phase of our investigation began in 1998. M. Clark, one of the co-authors of this article, memorized this poem around 1944, when he was given a newspaper clipping by the author, our great-uncle, W. Sterling Atwater. He has been able to recite it from memory ever since, and did so at a family gathering in 1998. As the conversation moved on to the topic of the relatively young World Wide Web - the internet - we jokingly wondered if “The Poem” had made its way onto the internet yet. We were amazed to get a “hit”, which turned out to be on a website devoted to information about General George S. Patton, Jr. Further investigation found the poem on this website had been taken from the book “The Poems of General George S. Patton, Jr.: Lines of Fire”, edited by Carmine A. Prioli.

More research was needed using M. Clark’s original newspaper clipping, and it was found to have come from a local newspaper, The New Haven Register, April 14, 1943. The newspaper archives revealed what had been cut off the original clipping - an additional line that said “from the Boston News Bureau”. That original publication was eventually found, using the archives of the Boston News Bureau at the New York Public Library.

Meanwhile, M. Clark wrote to Dr. Prioli about the discrepancy, enclosing the New Haven Register clipping that included the initials “W.S.A.”. Dr. Prioli's reply is reproduced in this image. He agreed with the conclusion that W. Sterling Atwater was the author of the poem, as quoted earlier, and that the attribution to Patton was an error. He enclosed a copy of the typewritten poem as found in the Patton archives at the Library of Congress, and explained, as quoted earlier, why the poem was included in the book of Patton's poetry.

When and if a second edition of the Lines of Fire book is printed , it will correct this error. In 1998, we did not attempt to correct the information on websites that had taken a copy of the poem from the Lines of Fire book.

Finding re-prints of the poem: 2016 and 2023

The second phase of the investigation was in 2016, and focused on old newspapers and periodicals that had become available on the internet in digital format since 1998, and can be found using internet search tools such as Google, Google Books,, and other search tools for specialized digital archives of old printed materials. This extensive searching was repeated in 2023, and even more digitized material was found.

Primary searching was done in internet repositories that contain the digitalized version of old printed materials. The number of such repositiories is surprisingly large, and search techniques could easily be the topic of a separate article. Some of the main repositories are Google, Google Books, and Some of the published copies of the poem in the list below contain references to an earlier publication, as the source of the material. So some secondary searching has been for copies of the referenced publications, which are not available in the primary internet repositories.

One of the more interesting is The Gazette, from Montreal, October 30, 1943. The prologue to the poem, shown to the right, says

(Official publication, National Press Club, Washington)
(Editor's Note: The subjoined masterpiece appeared mysteriously and anonymously in the precincts of the War Production Board. It has been variously attributed to Donald Nelson and nearly every official under him.)
This led to an inquiry to the archives of The National Press Club, in Washington, DC. Its publications are not available on the internet, but a check of the archives revealed that the poem was indeed published in The National Press Club's official newsletter Goldfish Bowl, in the Sept/Oct 1943 edition. (See details in the publications table at the end of this article).

The editor's note in the Montreal newspaper was also reprinted from The National Press Club newsletter. It was probably added tongue-in-cheek - it is impossible to know. Donald Nelson was a business executive who served as chairman of the War Production Board (W.P.B., which is mentioned in the poem) from 1942 to 1944.

The publication of the poem in the National Press Club newsletter and other national publications (like The Washington Post, another secondary search result) could help explain how the poem came to be more widely re-published around the world.

Variations of the Poem

In 2016, we discovered almost 50 re-prints of the poem, in two primary variations described below. In addition, there were numerous minor changes in some re-prints, either small editorial changes, or typographical/transcription errors (One editor changed Merton's name to "Merton Jerque"). None of these re-prints were identical to the poem attributed to General Patton, which had its own unique typographical error, as described below.

There are three important versions of the poem:

* - We have changed one line in the transcript at the top of this article, substituting words that convey the original meaning without using offensive language. Several early published versions, as well as anyone who now recites the poem, make a change to the now dated and offensive phrase “. . . n*** in the woodpile ”.

List of Publications

The table below contains all the known publications of the poem, between 1943 and 1991, when the book “The Poems of General George S. Patton, Jr.: Lines of Fire” was published.

The table is a work in progress in several respects. Full citations, notes, and images of the publications are being worked on. There are also a few duplications, which may be the result of publications being digitized more than once and listed under slightly different titles in different catalogs.

6/23/2023 66 newspapers, 35 journals, 9 ref/snippet, 7 cited
Publication Location Publication Date Page Merton/ Morton Poem Image Notes
Boston News Bureau Boston, MA April 13, 1943 p. 1 Merton Click to View Credit: “W.S.A.”
New Haven Register New Haven, CT April 14, 1943 Merton Credit: Boston News Bureau “W.S.A.”
The likely reason it was published here is because the author, W. Sterling Atwater, was born and raised in the New Haven area, and had several prominent relatives still in the area (in Derby, Ct, outside New Haven), who might have submitted the poem to the newspaper, or suggested its publication.
Burlington Daily News Burlington, VT April 17, 1943 p. 6 Merton Click to View Credit: Boston News Bureau “W.S.A.”
St. Albans Daily Messenger St. Albans, Vermont  April 17, 1943 p. 6 Merton Click to View Credit: Boston News Bureau “W.S.A.”
Transcript-Telegram Holyoke, Massachusetts April 20, 1943 p. 8 Merton Click to View Credit: Boston News Bureau “W.S.A.”
San Marino Tribune San Marino, CA August 5, 1943 p. 12 Merton Click to View Two additional stanzas added.
The Washington Post Washington, DC August 15, 1943 p. 8 Morton Click to View cited by Truth; prolog says Interior Secretary Ickes liked it;
International Gazette Black Rock, NY August 25, 1943 p. 2 Morton Click to View
Chattanooga Daily Times Chattanooga, TN September 8, 1943 p. 6 Merton Click to View prolog says poem is circulating in Washington
The Windsor Star Windsor, Ontario, Canada September 14, 1943 p. 4 Morton Click to View signed with initials R.M.H.
Bay of Plenty Beacon Whakatane, New Zealand September 21, 1943 p. 2 Merton Click to View
Winston-Salem Journal Winston-Salem, North Carolina  September 23, 1943 p. 5 Morton Click to View
Pahiatua Herald New Zealand September 28, 1943 p. 4 Merton Click to View
The Bangor Daily News Bangor, ME October 2, 1943 p. 12 Merton Click to View Credit: Boston News Bureau WSA; with editorial prolog
The Gazette Montreal, Canada October 30, 1943 p. 8 Merton Click to View Credit: from The National Press Club,Washington, DC
Dallas Campus Dallas, TX November 10, 1943 p. 4 Merton Click to View
StarTribune Minneapolis, Minnesota November 17, 1943 p. 4 Merton Click to View
Winnipeg Free Press Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada November 18, 1943 p. 13 Morton Click to View
The Sikeston Standard Sikeston, Missouri November 19, 1943 p. 14 Morton Click to View
The Selma Times-Journal Selma, Alabama November 21, 1943 p. 4 Merton Click to View Credit: WSA
The Tulsa Tribune Tulsa, Oklahoma November 22, 1943 p. 11 Morton Click to View
The Brookville American Brookville, PA November 25, 1943 p. 2 Merton Click to View
Ames Daily Tribune Ames, Iowa November 27, 1943 p. 2 Morton Click to View misspelling Quirck
Anaheim Gazette Anaheim, CA December 2, 1943 p. 4 Morton Click to View
The Manchester Journal Manchester, Vermont December 2, 1943 p. 7 Morton Click to View credit: National Publisher
Gideon-Clarkton News Gideon, Missouri December 3, 1943 p. 3 Morton Click to View
The Artesia Advocate Artesia, NM December 9, 1943 p. 2 Morton Click to View
Peace River Record Gazette Peace River, Alberta, Canada December 10, 1943 p. 12 Morton Click to View
Calgary Herald Calgary, Alberta, Canada December 16, 1943 p. 4 Merton Click to View
The Eugene Guard Eugene, Oregon December 20, 1943 p. 9 Merton Click to View
The Gallup Independent New Mexico December 23, 1943 p. 4 Morton Click to View Credit: “Artesia Advocate”
Dundee Courier Angus, Scotland December 23, 1943 p. 2 Merton Click to View Credit: from "The Houghton Line" Philadelphia
The Sub Groton, CT December 23, 1943 p. 4 Merton Click to View
Commercial Advertiser Canton, NY January 4, 1944 p. 2 Morton Click to View Abbreviated and modified version. Source credited as: “Gluey Gleanings of Commercial Paste Co.”
Centralia Evening Sentinal Centralia, IL January 17, 1944 p. 8 Morton Click to View
Globe Arizona Record Globe, AZ January 20, 1944 p. 5 Morton Click to View
Jefferson County Record Hillsboro, Missouri February 10, 1944 p. 4 Morton Click to View
Kenny Letter Chambersburg, PA February 11, 1944 p. 2 Merton Click to View
Middlesboro Daily News Middlesboro, KY February 23, 1944 p. 1 Morton Click to View Credit: “from the Surplus Record - Feb 1944”
The South Bend Tribune South Bend, Indiana February 25, 1944 p. 8 Morton Click to View Credit: Detroit Board of Commerce Bulletin
Medford Mail Tribune Medford, OR March 17, 1944 p. 8 Merton Click to View Abbreviated version. Credit: “Houston Line” (may be reference to Houghton Line)
The Elmcreek Beacon Elm Creek, Nebraska March 17, 1944 p. 2 Morton Click to View
Truth London, England March 24, 1944 p. 7 Morton Click to View Credit: The Washington Post
The Tacoma News Tribune Tacoma, Washington April 5, 1944 p. 8 Morton Click to View letter to editor; prose, not verse
The Gazette Farmerville, Louisiana April 20, 1944 p. 2 Merton Click to View
The Ouachita Citizen West Monroe, Louisiana April 28, 1944 p. 2 Morton Click to View
The Wichita Beacon Wichita, Kansas April 29, 1944 p. 4 Morton Click to View
The Pratville Progress Prattville, Alabama May 11, 1944 p. 7 Morton Click to View
The St. Maurice Valley Chronicle Quebec, Canada May 25, 1944 p. 2 Merton Click to View
The Democrat Argus Caruthersville, Missouri June 30, 1944 p. 8 Morton Click to View
The New Times Melborne, Australia July 7, 1944 p. 1 Merton Click to View Credit: “Metal Finishing” magazine, September 1943
The Oelwein Daily Register Oelwein, Iowa August 9, 1944 p. 4 Morton Click to View Credit: “Iowa Motor Truck News”
Chariton Herald Patriot Chariton, Iowa August 10, 1944 p. 4 Morton Click to View Credit: “Iowa Motor Truck News”
The Dayton Review Dayton, Ohio August 10, 1944 p. 4 Morton Click to View
The Malvern Leader Malvern, Iowa August 17, 1944 p. 2 Morton Click to View Credit: “we swiped from the Iowa Taxpayer bulletin which had evidently swiped it from the Iowa Motor Truck News”
Capitol Hill Beacon Oklahoma City, Oklahoma August 22, 1944 p. 4 Merton Click to View
The Chinook Opinion Chinook, Montana August 24, 1944 p. 3 Morton Click to View Credit: National Publisher
Construction Sydney, Australia September 20, 1944 p. 10 Merton Click to View Credit: “Bulletin of the Institute of Engineers”
Jewish Advocate Boston, MA February 8, 1945 p. 11 Morton Click to View
The Lowville Leader Lowville, NY February 15, 1945 p. 5 Merton Click to View
Corvallis Gazette Times Corvallis, Oregon March 16, 1945 p. 2 Morton Click to View
The Sheboygan Press Sheboygan, Wisconsin March 31, 1945 p. 14 Morton Click to View
Shawnee News-Star Shawnee, Oklahoma May 19, 1945 p. 4 Morton Click to View credit March 1945 issue of Personnel Administration
The Winchester Star Winchester, MA June 1, 1945 p. 4 Morton Click to View
The Milwaukee Journal Milwaukee, WI June 12, 1945 p. 12 Morton Click to View additional cartoon; credit: “from Personnel Administration Magazine”
The Highland Park News-Herald Highland Park, CA October 4, 1954 p. 10 Morton Click to View

Many of the images for Other Publications below are “snippet view” images from Google Books. Actual page images from these publications are not available online, even though the books have been digitized and indexed for searching.

Publication Publication Detail Publication Date Page Merton/ Morton Poem Image Notes
Journals, Books, Industrial & Other Publications
Goldfish Bowl (Official Publication of the National Press Club) National Press Club's newsletter Sept/Oct 1943 p. 8 Merton Click to View Prolog (presumably tongue-in-cheek) credits staff of the W.P.B.
Congressional Record of 1943 Record of the US Congress 1943 p. A5589 Morton Click to View In the House of Representatives, Saturday, Dec 18, 1943, US Representative Karl E. Mundt of South Dakota included the poem as an extension of his own satiric speech about bureaucracy.
National Publisher, Vol 23 Publication of the National Editorial Association (now National Newspaper Association ) 1943 18 Morton Click to View cited as source by The Chinook Opinion and The Manchester Journal newspapers.
Connecticut Industry Publication of the Manufacturers Association of Connecticut June 1943 p 9 Merton Click to View
Metrol A journal published in Detroit 1943 Morton Click to View copy at U. Mich. library
American law and lawyers: law, government, the legal profession in action Professional newsletter. Vol 5, No. 30 August 24, 1943 Morton Click to View
Metal Finishing An American technical magazine September 1943 p. 40 Merton Click to View cited in The New Times newspaper (Australia)
Massachusetts Law Quarterly December, 1943 p 34 Merton Click to View Page image not available online; TOC only
Michigan Purchasing Management 1943 p 111 Merton Click to View “Quoted from the October '43 issue of The Houghton Line”
National Petroleum News Petroleum And Gas Trade Journal 12/29/1943 p 56 Morton Click to View
Congressional Record of 1944 Record of the US Congress 1944 p. A1513 Morton Click to View Rep. Richard M. Kleberg of Texas recited the full text of the poem in a speech to a cattlemen's association. The point of his including the poem, if any, is however obscured by his lengthy and obtuse remarks.
Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News Jan 17, 1944 p. 2 Merton Click to View From "The Houghton Line" October 1943
Typo Graphic Jan 1944 Morton Click to View
Surplus Record Directory of Used, New, and Surplus Machinery & Equipment Feb 1944 p 6 Morton Click to View cited in Middlesboro Daily News newspaper
Alaska Mukluk Telegraph Newsletter of Alaska C.A.A. March 1944 p. 6 Merton Click to View
Fortnightly Telephone Engineer June 1, 1944 p. 4, 32 Morton Click to View
Proceedings / Meeting of Electric & Gas Industry Accountants 1944 p. 7-8 Morton Click to View
U.S. Air Services 1944 p. 50 Morton Click to View
Service Schedule 1944 p 130 Morton Click to View Credit: “ Lt. Louis Sanns”
The Canadian Chartered Accountant 1944 p 54-55 Merton Click to View
Finance 1944 Morton Click to View
Journal of the American Institute of Architects 1944 p. 90 Morton Click to View credit: “contributed through George Harwell Bond”
Institute in Personnel Administration 1944 p 24 Morton Click to View
Kentucky State Bar Journal 1944 p 91 Morton Click to View
National Provisioner Meat industry journal 9/16/1944 p 78 Morton Click to View
Charette (Journal of the Pittsburgh Architectural Club) October, 1944 Merton Click to View
Kansas Government Journal January, 1945 Morton Click to View
The Seafarer's Log Published by Seafarer's International Union of North America 23-Feb-45 p 2 Merton Click to View
Bests Insurance News Insurance industry publication May 1945 p 47-48 Morton Click to View
Thread of Victory (by Frank L. Walton, book) 1945 p 223-224 Merton Click to View
Illinois Technograph 1945 p 88 Merton Click to View Credit: “an officer in one of our Army depots..”
The Wisconsin Octopus: Success issue September, 1946 6.4 Merton Click to View
Bulletin of the Essex County Dental Society, Volumes 15-18 1947 p. 159 Morton Click to View Morton Jerque
You'll Love this One--: Anecdotes which Wow the Boys when Spoken-- and which Aren't So Hard to Read, Either Book, by George F. Taubeneck, wit & humor 1949 p. 231 Merton Click to View
Petroleum Management 1950 p. E-22 Morton Click to View
Louisiana Bar Journal 1955 p. 15-16 Morton Click to View
Lehigh University Brown and White Newspaper of Lehigh Univ. October 4, 1955 p. 2 Merton Click to View Cited in Pricked Ear. Accompanied by long humorous Editor's Note.
The Pricked Ear a weekly newsletter published from 1957-1960 created for the Gryphon community and Freshmen of Lehigh University. 1957-1960 (volume 6, no. 13) p. 8-9 Merton Click to View OCR text only; poor quality; no original page images. Credit: “appeared in the Brown and White on October 4,1955” (see previous item)
References, Snippets, Plagerisms and Other Uses
Proceedings of the annual meeting of the American Warehousemen's Association 1943 p 139 n/a Click to View phrase “Division of Provision for Revision” used in a speech; context suggests it's recognizable
Electrical West Trade journal November 1943 p 66 n/a Click to View Single stanza, "checker's checker's checker", quoted on page about wartime supply regulations
San Angelo Standard-Times San Angelo, Texas March 2, 1944 p 1 Morton Click to View mention of 'Morton Quirk' by Rep Kleberg, whose speech is in 1944 Congressional Record
The West Australian Perth, Australia July 17, 1944 n/a Click to View 4 lines only - checker's checker stanza, in an advertisement
The Military Surgeon Vol 106, No. 2 Feb, 1950 90 n/a Click to View Single stanza, "checker's checker's checker". Refers to the poem as popular in industry during WWII.
The Record Argus Greenville, Pennsylvania Dec 13, 1950 p. 13 n/a Click to View Modified version; claim of local authorship; within a used car dealer advertisement
The Record Argus Greenville, Pennsylvania Sep 19, 1951 p. 9 n/a Click to View reprint of above
Virginia Medical Monthly Medical Society of Virginia 1966 p. 549 n/a Click to View Article by H. Lamont Pugh lamenting too much bureaucracy quotes the checker's checker stanza.
Virginia Medical Monthly Medical Society of Virginia August, 1978 p. 592 n/a Click to View Article by H. Lamont Pugh lamenting too much bureaucracy quotes the checker's checker stanza. Different article, same publication, same author as 1966.
Woroni Canberra, Australia Aug 5, 1980 p. 30 n/a Click to View very different but derivitive; author claims credit.
Penn. House of Representatives Minutes Aug 30, 1995 109 Merton Click to View Single reference: a bureaucratic monstrosity that would impress even "Merton Quirk"
Alaska Business Monthly Feb 2007 p. 5 n/a Click to View Use of checker's checker wording, followed by line "process .. laborious and long" from poem.
Cited Publications, but not yet found
The Houghton Line published by E.F. Houghton & Co., Philadelphia (metalfinishing company) October 1943 cited as source by Michigan Purchasing Management, and by Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News; also possible reference by Medford Mail Tribune
Gluey Gleanings published by Commercial Paste Co., Columbus, Ohio cited as source by Potsdam Commercial Advertiser newspaper
Iowa Taxpayer bulletin cited as source by Malvern Leader newspaper
Iowa Motor Truck News cited as source by Malvern Leader newspaper, Chariton Herald Patriot newspaper, and by The Oelwein Daily Register newspaper
Detroit Board of Commerce Bulletin cited as source by The South Bend Tribune newspaper
Bulletin of the Institute of Engineers a publication in Malaysia had this title cited as source by Sydney Construction newspaper

W. Sterling Atwater's Second Poem in the Boston News Bureau

The other poem we know about, titled “The Time Will Come”, was published in 1944, on or about March 29. It is shown in the image to the right (click to enlarge), which is a later reprint of the poem that appeared in the Brown University Alumni magazine. A day or two after this poem appeared in the Boston News Bureau, the following article was published in the newspaper.

War sometimes carries its own strange touches of the dramatic or tragic, linked with the fates or fortunes of individual personalities caught in the great web of conflict. Occasionally there would seem to enter almost weirdly an element of prophecy or premonition.

Such an incident came yesterday to the notice of the Boston News Bureau in connection with a poem printed on its first page that day, entitled "The Time Will Come." That poem had feelingly told of the emotions which would greet those returning from battle or would lament the unreturning - the “tears of joy in welcome of the living” or else “the tears of sorrow for the dead,” - and also had bespoken the greater grief threatening a future world if those dead had died in vain and if the “hope and destiny of generations lie buried on the slope of Calvary.”

We learned that about noon yesterday, precisely when the author of those verses, W. S. Atwater, was showing the reprint to some of his associates in the Hope Webbing Company of Providence, R. I., was the moment when a telephone call came to him from the War Department informing him of the death in action in Italy of his son, Captain Charnley K. Atwater of the Air Corps.

Fate plays strange pranks.

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The Time Will Come
The time will come when, purged of all misgiving,
They walk familiar streets with quickening tread;
When tears of joy in welcome of the living
May quench the tears of sorrow for the dead.
They shall have rest but, weary of their resting,
The time will come when once again replete
With purpose gained anew, their urgent questing
Must find reward — a hearthstone at their feet.
That time must come for if the Freedoms' meaning
Is but a shibboleth, a cloak outworn,
And they who keep the faith are left the gleaning
Of kernels from the stubble of the corn;
Or if, within the haven of their yearning,
All youth, bereft of youth, must still be hurled
Into the void from which they come returning
Across the four horizons of the world —
Then Victory shall bring no exultations,
However brushed the Devil's whelps may be,
The hope and destiny of generations
Lie buried on the slope of Calvary.
— W. S. A.