11/27/2011 05:19 pm ET Updated Jan 27, 2012

Chrysler Taps a Poem to Promote its 'Tough' Image

Nothing says toughness like deep voiceovers, portraits of blue-collar Americans, and football. So the brains behind Chrysler's critically acclaimed new ad campaign have excelled by incorporating gritty, steel-toned Detroit street scenes with an Ajax of a football player named Ndamukong Suh. But their latest ad, which premiered during this past week's football broadcast, went out on a limb, featuring a poem by former Michigan poet laureate Edgar Guest.

When you're up against a trouble,
Meet it squarely, face to face;
Lift your chin and set your shoulders,
Plant your feet and take a brace.
When it's vain to try to dodge it,
Do the best that you can do;
You may fail, but you may conquer,
See it through!

Black may be the clouds about you
And your future may seem grim,
But don't let your nerve desert you;
Keep yourself in fighting trim.
If the worst is bound to happen,
Spite of all that you can do,
Running from it will not save you,
See it through!

Even hope may seem but futile,
When with troubles you're beset,
But remember you are facing
Just what other men have met.
You may fail, but fall still fighting;
Don't give up, whate'er you do;
Eyes front, head high to the finish.
See it through!

Sadly, Suh, Chrysler's other spokesman, did not "see it through" on Thursday. In a fit of fury, he smashed an opponent's head into the turf three times then stomped on his arm, earning himself an ejection. After the game, Suh -- quite remarkably -- denied that he'd done anything wrong. His comments bring to mind these other lines by Guest: "Here's to the men, the perfect men! Who never are at fault." Guest was being ironic; Suh was not.

Guest, at least, should prove a great choice by Chrysler. He lived most of his life in Detroit and lived out a great American story. His family emigrated from England in 1891 when he was 10 years old, and he became an American citizen in 1902. He worked his way up from copyboy to reporter at the Detroit Free Press, and eventually became a radio and TV star. He considered himself a newsman first, but his simple, sentimental poems were hugely popular in the early 20th century. Here's an excerpt from one of his best-known poems, "Thanksgiving":

Give me the end of the year an' its fun
When most of the plannin' an' toilin' is done;
Bring all the wanderers home to the nest,
Let me sit down with the ones I love best,
Hear the old voices still ringin' with song,
See the old faces unblemished by wrong,
See the old table with all of its chairs
An' I'll put soul in my Thanksgivin' prayers.

You can read more of Guest's poetry here.