Edgar Guest

American writer and poet

Edgar Albert Guest (August 20, 1881 - August 5, 1959) (aka Eddie Guest) was a prolific English-born American poet who was popular in the first half of the 20th century and became known as the People's Poet.

Edgar Guest 1935.JPG


  • Life is a jest;
    Take the delight of it.
    Laughter is best;
    Sing through the night of it.
    Swiftly the tear
    And the hurt and the ache of it
    Find us down here;
    Life must be what we make of it.
    • Life, stanza 1, All That Matters, p. 80 (1922).
  • God grant me these: the strength to do
    Some needed service here;
    The wisdom to be brave and true;
    The gift of vision clear,
    That in each task that comes to me
    Some purpose I may plainly see.

    God teach me to believe that I
    Am stationed at a post,
    Although the humblest 'neath the sky,
    Where I am needed most.
    And that, at last, if I do well
    My humble services will tell.

    God grant me faith to stand on guard,
    Uncheered, unspoke, alone,
    And see behind such duty hard
    My service to the throne.
    Whate'er my task, be this my creed:
    I am on earth to fill a need.

    • A Plea, The Path to Home, p. 17 (1919).
  • Somebody said that it couldn't be done,
    But he with a chuckle replied
    "maybe it couldn't," but he would be one
    wouldn't say so till he'd tried.
    he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
    his face. If he worried he hid it.
    He started to sing as he tackled the thing
    That couldn't be done, and he did it.
    • It Couldn't Be Done, stanza 1, The Path to Home, p. 38 (1919).

A Heap o' Livin' (1916)Edit

  • When you get to know a fellow, know his joys and know his cares,
    When you've come to understand him and the burdens that he bears,
    When you've learned the fight he's making and the troubles in his way,
    Then you find that he is different than you thought him yesterday.
    You find his faults are trivial and there's not so much to blame
    In the brother that you jeered at when you only knew his name.
    • When You Know a Fellow, stanza 1, p. 12.
  • Oh, you'll not be any poorer if you smile along your way,
    And your lot will not be harder for the kindly things you say.
    Don't imagine you are wasting time for others that you spend:
    You can rise to wealth and glory and still pause to be a friend.
    • It Isn't Costly, stanza 3, p. 15.
  • To have no secret place wherein
    I stoop unseen to shame or sin;
    To be the same when I'm alone
    As when my every deed is known;
    To live undaunted, unafraid
    Of any step that I have made;
    To be without pretense or sham
    Exactly what men think I am.
    • My Creed, stanza 2, p. 16.
  • "How much do babies cost?" said he
    The other night upon my knee;
    And then I said: "They cost a lot;
    A lot of watching by a cot,
    A lot of sleepless hours and care,
    A lot of heart-ache and despair,
    A lot of fear and trying dread,
    And sometimes many tears are shed
    In payment for our babies small,
    But every one is worth it all.
    • What a Baby Costs, stanza 1, p. 19.
  • It takes a heap o' livin' in a house t' make it home,
    A heap o' sun an' shadder, an' ye sometimes have t' roam
    Afore ye really 'preciate the things ye lef' behind,
    An' hunger fer 'em somehow, with 'em allus on yer mind.
    It don't make any differunce how rich ye get t' be,
    How much yer chairs an' tables cost, how great yer luxury;
    It ain't home t' ye, though it be the palace of a king,
    Until somehow yer soul is sort o' wrapped round everything.
    • Home, stanza 1, p. 29.
  • So long as men shall be on earth
    There will be tasks for them to do,
    Some way for them to show their worth;
    Each day shall bring its problems new.

    And men shall dream of mightier deeds
    Than ever have been done before:
    There always shall be human needs
    For men to work and struggle for.

    • Opportunity, p. 40.
  • Only a dad with a tired face,
    Coming home from the daily race,
    Bringing little of gold or fame
    To show how well he has played the game;
    But glad in his heart that his own rejoice
    To see him come and to hear his voice.
    • Only a Dad, stanza 1, p. 43.
  • I'm not the man to say that failure's sweet,
    Nor tell a chap to laugh when things go wrong;
    I know it hurts to have to take defeat
    An' no one likes to lose before a throng;
    It isn't very pleasant not to win
    When you have done the very best you could;
    But if you're down, get up an' buckle in—
    A lickin' often does a fellow good.
    • Hard Knocks, stanza 1, p. 44.
  • Can't is the word that is foe to ambition,
    An enemy ambushed to shatter your will;
    Its prey is forever the man with a mission
    And bows but to courage and patience and skill.
    Hate it, with hatred that's deep and undying,
    For once it is welcomed 'twill break any man;
    Whatever the goal you are seeking, keep trying
    And answer this demon by saying: "I can."
    • Can't, stanza 4, p. 54.
  • The things are mighty few on earth
    That wishes can attain.
    Whate'er we want of any worth
    We've got to work to gain.
    • Results and Roses, stanza 2, p. 57.
  • Less hate and greed
    Is what we need
    And more of service true;
    More men to love
    The flag above
    And keep it first in view.

    Less boast and brag
    About the flag,
    More faith in what it means;
    More heads erect,
    More self-respect,
    Less talk of war machines.

    • Our Duty to Our Flag, stanzas 1-2, p. 59.
  • You can do as much as you think you can,
    But you'll never accomplish more;
    If you're afraid of yourself, young man,
    There's little for you in store.
    For failure comes from the inside first,
    It's there if we only knew it,
    And you can win, though you face the worst,
    If you feel that you're going to do it.
    • How Do You Tackle Your Work, stanza 2, p. 63.
  • Life is a gift that the humblest may boast of
    And one that the humblest may well make the most of.
    Get out and live it each hour of the day,
    Wear it and use it as much as you may;
    Don't keep it in niches and corners and grooves,
    You'll find that in service its beauty improves.
    • Life, stanza 2, p. 64.
  • Courage was never designed for show;
    It isn't a thing that can come and go;
    It's written in victory and defeat
    And every trial a man may meet.
    It's part of his hours, his days and his years,
    Back of his smiles and behind his tears.
    Courage is more than a daring deed:
    It's the breath of life and a strong man's creed.
    • Courage, stanza 4, p. 73.
  • 'Tis better to have tried in vain,
    Sincerely striving for a goal,
    Than to have lived upon the plain
    An idle and a timid soul.

    'Tis better to have fought and spent
    Your courage, missing all applause,
    Than to have lived in smug content
    And never ventured for a cause.

    For he who tries and fails may be
    The founder of a better day;
    Though never his the victory,
    From him shall others learn the way.

    • Failures, p. 84.
  • No one is beat till he quits,
    No one is through till he stops,
    No matter how hard Failure hits,
    No matter how often he drops,
    A fellow's not down till he lies
    In the dust and refuses to rise.
    • Defeat, stanza 1, p. 112.

Just Folks (1917)Edit

  • 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!
    • See It Through, stanza 1.
  • I hold no dream of fortune vast,
    Nor seek undying fame.
    I do not ask when life is past
    That many know my name.

    I may not own the skill to rise
    To glory's topmost height,
    Nor win a place among the wise,
    But I can keep the right.

    And I can live my life on earth
    Contented to the end,
    If but a few shall know my worth
    And proudly call me friend.

    • Success.
  • The joy of life is living it, or so it seems to me;
    In finding shackles on your wrists, then struggling till you're free;
    In seeing wrongs and righting them, in dreaming splendid dreams,
    Then toiling till the vision is as real as moving streams.
    The happiest mortal on the earth is he who ends his day
    By leaving better than he found to bloom along the way.
    • Improvement, stanza 1.
  • A man is at his finest towards the finish of the year;
    He is almost what he should be when the Christmas season's here;
    Then he's thinking more of others than be's thought the months before,
    And the laughter of his children is a joy worth toiling for.
    He is less a selfish creature than at any other time;
    When the Christmas spirit rules him he comes close to the sublime.
    • At Christmas, stanza 1.

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