Poetry Saturday—At Christmas

Edgar A. Guest

A man is at his finest
     towards the finish of the year;
He is almost what he should be
     when the Christmas season is here;
Then he’s thinking more of others
     than he’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.

When it’s Christmas man is bigger
     and is better in his part;
He is keener for the service
     that is prompted by the heart.
All the petty thoughts and narrow
     seem to vanish for awhile
And the true reward he’s seeking
     is the glory of a smile.
Then for others he is toiling and
     somehow it seems to me
That at Christmas he is almost
     what God wanted him to be.

If I had to paint a picture of a man
     I think I’d wait
Till he’d fought his selfish battles
     and had put aside his hate.
I’d not catch him at his labors
     when his thoughts are all of pelf,
On the long days and the dreary
     when he’s striving for himself.
I’d not take him when he’s sneering,
     when he’s scornful or depressed,
But I’d look for him at Christmas
     when he’s shining at his best.

Man is ever in a struggle
     and he’s oft misunderstood;
There are days the worst that’s in him
     is the master of the good,
But at Christmas kindness rules him
     and he puts himself aside
And his petty hates are vanquished
     and his heart is opened wide.
Oh, I don’t know how to say it,
     but somehow it seems to me
That at Christmas man is almost
     what God sent him here to be. —Edgar Guest

 

Poetry Saturday—Don’t Quit

Edgar A. Guest

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low but the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit…
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit!

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many failures turn about
When we might have won had we stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow…
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out…
And you can never tell how close you are
It may be near when it seems so far.
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit. —Edgar A. Guest

 

Poetry Saturday—A Man

Edgar A. GuestA man doesn’t whine at his losses,
A man doesn’t whimper and fret,
Or rail at the weight of his crosses
And ask life to rear him a pet.
A man doesn’t grudgingly labor
Or look upon toil as a blight;
A man doesn’t sneer at his neighbor
Or sneak from a cause that is right.

A man doesn’t sulk when another
Succeeds where his efforts have failed;
Doesn’t keep all his praise for the brother
Whose glory is publicly hailed;
And pass by the weak and the humble
As though they were not of his clay;
A man doesn’t ceaselessly grumble
When things are not going his way.

A man looks on woman as tender
And gentle, and stands at her side
At all times to guard and defend her,
And never to scorn or deride.
A man looks on life as a mission.
To serve, just so far as he can;
A man holds his noblest ambition
On earth is to live as a man. —Edgar A. Guest

Poetry Saturday—Father And Son

Edgar A. GuestBe more than his dad,
Be a chum to the lad;
Be a part of his life
Every hour of the day;
Find time to talk with him,
Take time to walk with him,
Share in his studies
And share in his play;
Take him to places,
To ball games and races,
Teach him the things
That you want him to know;
Don’t live apart from him,
Don’t keep your heart from him,
Be his best comrade,
He’s needing you so!

Never neglect him,
Though young, still respect him,
Hear his opinions
With patience and pride;
Show him his error,
But be not a terror,
Grim-visaged and fearful,
When he’s at your side.
Know what his thoughts are,
Know what his sports are,
Know all his playmates,
It’s easy to learn to;
Be such a father
That when troubles gather
You’ll be the first one
For counsel, he’ll turn to.

You can inspire him
With courage, and fire him
Hot with ambition
For deeds that are good;
He’ll not betray you
Nor ill repay you,
If you have taught him.
The things that you should.
Father and son
Must in all things be one —
Partners in trouble
And comrades in joy.
More than a dad
Was the best pal you had;
Be such a chum
As you knew, to your boy. —Edgar A. Guest

Poetry Saturday―Sermons We See

Edgar A. GuestI’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day;
I’d rather one should walk with me than merely show the way.
The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear;
Fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear.
And the best of all preachers are the men who live their creeds.
For to see the good in action is what everybody needs.

I can soon learn how to do it if you’ll let me see it done;
I can watch your hands in actions, but your tongue too fast may run.
And the lectures you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I’d rather get my lesson by observing what you do.
For I may misunderstand you and the high advice you give,
But there’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.

When I see a deed of kindness, I am eager to be kind.
When a weaker brother stumbles and a strong man stays behind
Just to see if he can help him, then the wish grows strong in me
To become as big and thoughtful as I know that friend to be.
And all travelers can witness that the best of guides today
Is not the one who tells them, but the one who shows the way.

One good man teaches many, men believe what they behold;
One deed of kindness noticed is worth forty that are told.
Who stands with men of honor learns to hold his honor dear,
For right living speaks a language which to every one is clear.
Though an able speaker charms me with his eloquence, I say,
I’d rather see a sermon then to hear one, any day. —Edgar A. Guest

Poetry Saturday—It Couldn’t Be Done

Edgar A. GuestSomebody said that it couldn’t be done,
but he with a chuckle replied
that maybe it couldn’t, but he would be one
who wouldn’t say no ‘till he tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
on 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.

Somebody scoffed: ‘Oh, you’ll never do that;
at least no one ever has done it;’
but he took off his coat and took off his hat
and the first thing he knew he’d begun it.
With the lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
without any doubting or quiddit,
he started to sing as he tackled the thing
that couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
there are thousands to prophesy failure;
there are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
the dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle right in with a bit of a grin,
then take off your coat and go to it;
just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
that ‘cannot be done,’ and you’ll do it. —Edgar A. Guest

 

Poetry Saturday—Answering Him

Edgar A. Guest

“When shall I be a man?” he said,
As I was putting him to bed.
“How many years will have to be
Before Time makes a man of me?
And will I be a man when I
Am grown up big?” I heaved a sigh,
Because it called for careful thought
To give the answer that he sought.

And so I sat him on my knee,
And said to him: “A man you’ll be
When you have learned that honor brings
More joy than all the crowns of kings;
That it is better to be true
To all who know and trust in you
Than all the gold of earth to gain
If winning it shall leave a stain.

“When you can fight for victory sweet,
Yet bravely swallow down defeat,
And cling to hope and keep the right,
Nor use deceit instead of might;
When you are kind and brave and clean,
And fair to all and never mean;
When there is good in all you plan,
That day, my boy, you’ll be a man.

“Some of us learn this truth too late;
That years alone can’t make us great;
That many who are three-score, ten
Have fallen short of being men,
Because in selfishness they fought
And toiled without refining thought;
And whether wrong or whether right
They lived but for their own delight.

“When you have learned that you must hold
Your honor dearer far than gold;
That no ill-gotten wealth or fame
Can pay you for your tarnished name;
And when in all you say or do
Of others you’re considerate, too,
Content to do the best you can
By such a creed, you’ll be a man.” —Edgar A. Guest

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