My introduction to Arthur Miller was a little red paperback that had four or five of his plays in it, including "Death of a Salesman," "The Crucible," "All My Sons," and something I've forgotten. It also had a poem as kind of a coda at the end of the volume that I've never forgotten.
LINES FROM CALIFORNIA
by Arthur Miller
They meet for purchase or sale
and to trace their bounds through rosebushes.
There is a catechism: What's your name, what
do you do, how do you feel, and where you from?
Like people on a perpetual cruise, and the dead
go overboard into a lawn. It's a deck,
part of which is always on fire.
Anything inconsequential makes them serious.
Some teach parakeets to climb ladders; they also
have Malted Milk Specialists.
Tragedy is when you lose your boat.
Life is a preparation for retirement.
The sun is good for business.
Al Jolson left a trust fund which pays
to floodlight his tomb at night forever;
even in death a man should have bills.
The second-largest industry is sporting goods.
To succeed as a woman you have to have a car.
California is Christianity plus the conveniences.
Driving from town to town one wonders what will
happen if neon gas ever runs out; some may
have to learn to read paint.
When a man admits failure he becomes a pedestrian.
Brotherhood is when two men have the same mother.
Sacrifice is a car sold at a ridiculous price.
Society is when people listen to classical music;
or a Savings & Loan.
Law is order, Justice a decent return on money.
Progress is anything turning on and off by itself.
Beauty is teeth, deep skill, and the willingness.
Freedom is the right to live among your own kind.
A philosophy is a keen sense of land values
and the patience to wait.
War is peace waged by other means .
They know they are the Future.
They are exceedingly well-armed.