Somebody 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 so till he’d 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
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
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)
The Light of Faith (1926)
Harbor Lights of Home (1928)
Rhymes of Childhood (1924)
Poems for the Home Folks (1930)
The Friendly Way (1931)
Life's Highway (1933)
Collected Verse of Edgar Guest (1934)
All in a Lifetime (1938)
Today and Tomorrow (1942)
Living the Years (1949)
Between You and Me: My Philosophy of Life (1938)