poem index

About this poet

On August 20, 1881, Edgar Guest was born in Birmingham, England, to Edwin and Julia Wayne Guest. The family settled in Detroit, Michigan, in 1891. When Edwin lost his job in 1893, eleven-year-old Edgar between working odd jobs after school. In 1895 he was hired as a copy boy for the Detroit Free Press, where he would work for almost sixty-five years. His father died when the poet was seventeen, and Guest was forced to drop out of high school and work full time at the newspaper. He worked his way up from a copy boy to a job in the news department. His first poem appeared on December 11, 1898. His weekly column, "Chaff," first appeared in 1904; his topical verses eventually became the daily "Breakfast Table Chat," which was syndicated to over three-hundred newspapers throughout the United States.

Guest married Nellie Crossman in 1906. The couple had three children. His brother Harry printed his first two books, Home Rhymes and Just Glad Things, in small editions. His verse quickly found an audience and the Chicago firm of Reilly and Britton began to publish his books at a rate of nearly one per year. His collections include Just Folks (1917), Over Here (1918), When Day Is Done (1921), The Passing Throng (1923), Harbor Lights of Home (1928), and Today and Tomorrow (1942).

From 1931 to 1942, Guest broadcast a weekly program on NBC radio. In 1951, "A Guest in Your Home" appeared on NBC TV. He published more than twenty volumes of poetry and was thought to have written over 11,000 poems. Guest has been called "the poet of the people." Most often, his poems were fourteen lines long and presented a deeply sentimental view of everyday life. He considered himself "a newspaper man who wrote verses." Of his poem he said, "I take simple everyday things that happen to me and I figure it happens to a lot of other people and I make simple rhymes out of them." His Collected Verse appeared in 1934 and went into at least eleven editions. Edgar Guest died on August 5, 1959.

A Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Home Rhymes, From "Breakfast Table Chat" (1909)
A Heap O' Livin' (1916)
Just Glad Tidings (1916)
Just Folks (1917)
Over Here (1918)
The Path to Home (1919)
A Dozen New Poems (1920)
Sunny Songs (1920)
When Day Is Done (1921)
All That Matters (1922)
The Passing Throng (1923)
Mother (1925)
The Light of Faith (1926)
You (1927)
Harbor Lights of Home (1928)
Rhymes of Childhood (1924)
Poems for the Home Folks (1930)
The Friendly Way (1931)
Faith (1932)
Life's Highway (1933)
Collected Verse of Edgar Guest (1934)
All in a Lifetime (1938)
Today and Tomorrow (1942)
Living the Years (1949)

Prose

Between You and Me: My Philosophy of Life (1938)

Bulb Planting Time

Edgar Guest, 1881 - 1959
Last night he said the dead were dead
  And scoffed my faith to scorn;
I found him at a tulip bed
  When I passed by at morn.

"O ho!" said I, "the frost is near
  And mist is on the hills,
And yet I find you planting here
  Tulips and daffodils."

"'Tis time to plant them now," he said,
  "If they shall bloom in Spring";
"But every bulb," said I, "seems dead,
  And such an ugly thing."

"The pulse of life I cannot feel,
  The skin is dried and brown.
Now look!" a bulb beneath my heel
  I crushed and trampled down.

In anger then he said to me:
  "You've killed a lovely thing;
A scarlet blossom that would be
  Some morning in the Spring."

"Last night a greater sin was thine,"
  To him I slowly said;
"You trampled on the dead of mine
  And told me they are dead."

This poem is in the public domain.

Edgar Guest

Edgar Guest

A prolific writer, Edgar Guest's poems were often fourteen lines long and presented a deeply sentimental view of everyday life

by this poet

poem
My father knows the proper way 
   The nation should be run; 
He tells us children every day 
   Just what should now be done. 
He knows the way to fix the trusts, 
   He has a simple plan; 
But if the furnace needs repairs, 
   We have to hire a man. 


My father, in a day or two 
   Could land big thieves in
poem
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 with a brood of four, 
One of ten million men or more. 
Plodding along in
poem
A boy and his dad on a fishing-trip—
There is a glorious fellowship!
Father and son and the open sky
And the white clouds lazily drifting by,
And the laughing stream as it runs along
With the clicking reel like a martial song,
And the father teaching the youngster gay
How to land a fish in the sportsman's way.