• What Pa Doesn’t Know

    From the Omaha Daily Bee, June 6, 1915. By Edgar A. Guest.

    Sometimes when folks come in to call on Ma an’ Pa’s away,
    An’ I’m supposed to be where I can’t hear a word they say,
    Ma starts to tell ‘em all about Pa’s fine an’ splendid ways,
    An’ just how good an’ kind he is, an’ all the jokes he plays;
    An’ how he never gives her any reason for complaint,
    Until she has the women folks believin’ Pa’s a saint.

    Pa’s just an ordinary man—he tells us so himself.
    He has to work all day to get his little bit of pelf.
    He isn’t one that’s known to fame, he can’t do clever things,
    He isn’t one that makes a speech, or out in public sings.
    But Ma just makes him out to be a man the world would cheer
    If it could know the worth of him—when he’s not there to hear.

    When Pa’s away Ma tells her friends how much of him she thinks,
    An’ just how good it is to have a man that never drinks.
    She dwells upon his thoughtful ways, his patience an’ his worth,
    An’ boasts that she is married to the finest man on earth.
    But if Pa isn’t home on time, an’ supper has to wait,
    She gives it to him, good an’ strong, for gettin’ in so late.

    Sometimes when Ma is scolding Pa, an’ he don’t say a word,
    I feel like tellin’ him the things that Ma don’t know I’ve heard.
    I feel like crawlin’ in his lap, an’ whisperin’, “Never mind,
    Deep in her heart Ma really thinks you’re all that’s good an’ kind.
    She thinks that you’re the finest man there is on earth, I know
    Because most every afternoon she tells the neighbors so.”

  • Money

    From the Newark Evening Star, November 24, 1914. By Edgar A. Guest.

    I would like to have money and all it will buy,
        But I never will lie to obtain it;
    For wealth I am eager and ready to try,
        But there’s much that I won’t do to gain it.
    I won’t spend my life in a money-mad chase,
        And I’ll never work children to win it;
    I won’t interfere with another man’s race,
        Though millions, perhaps, may be in it.

    There are prosperous things that are crusted with shame
        That I vow I will never engage in.
    There is many a crooked and dishonest game
        With a large and a glittering wage in,
    But I want to walk out with my head held erect,
        Nor bow it and sneakingly turn it;
    Above all your money I place self-respect;
        I’m eager for gold—but I’ll earn it.

  • Prayer for Home Land

    From the Omaha Daily Bee, November 1, 1914. By E. A. Guest.

    God bless the old United States,
        God keep her people strong;
    God guard the peace within her gates
        And fill her land with song.
    Teach us who dwell beneath her flag
        To cherish peaceful ways;
    To cease of cannon’s strength to brag
        And uniforms to praise.

    God bless the old United States,
        Where Freedom’s banner flies,
    Where joyously the mother waits
        With bright and smiling eyes,
    The father, coming home at night,
        His day of toiling done,
    And where to meet him with delight
        His happy children run.

    Here all the tears are honest tears
        And pain is honest pain,
    And here, secure throughout the years
        The toilers’ homes remain.
    Here firesides are not desolate
        By needless shot and shell,
    But honor and reward await
        The men who labor well.

    God bless the old United States,
        God bless her people, too;
    God keep forever at her gates
        The old red, white and blue.
    And may its beauties never die,
        But every year increase;
    God grant that flag shall ever fly
        Above a land at peace.

  • Lying

    From the Newark Evening Star, July 18, 1914. By Edgar A. Guest.

    I’m writing her a letter
        That I’m getting on all right,
    That I’m really feeling better,
        And I’m full of vim and fight.
    I’m telling her I’m working
        Every minute of the day,
    And I have no time for shirking
        And I have no time to play.

    I am telling her that nightly
        I am sitting round the home,
    And that time is passing lightly,
        And I’ve no desire to roam.
    I am telling her I’m hoping
        That a month or two they’ll stay
    Where the hillsides green are sloping
        And the little ones can play.

    I am glad they’re where the breezes
        Gently kiss them as they run,
    And I’m telling her it pleases
        Me to think of all their fun.
    And I write that I’m not lonely,
        But it’s all a fearful sham,
    For they’d come back if they only
        Knew how miserable I am.

    For I miss their sweet caresses
        And I miss their shouts of glee,
    And the empty home depresses
        Now the very soul of me.
    I miss the cry of “pappy”
        From each roguish little tot.
    I am writing that I’m happy
        But I’ll bet she knows I’m not.

  • Old-Fashioned Folks

    From the Omaha Daily Bee, April 24, 1914. By E. A. Guest.

    Old-fashioned folks! God bless ‘em all!
        The fathers an’ the mothers,
    The aunts an’ uncles, fat an’ tall,
        The sisters an’ the brothers.
    The good old-fashioned neighbors, too—
        The passing time improves ‘em,
    They still drop in to chat with you
        Whene’er the spirit moves ‘em.
    The simple, unaffected folks
        With gentle ways an’ sunny,
            The brave and true
            That live life through
        And stay unspoiled by money.

    Old-fashioned folks, of solid worth,
        On them a benediction!
    The joy an’ comfort of the earth,
        Its strength, without restriction.
    The charm of every neighborhood
        The toilers uncomplaining,
    The men an’ women, pure and good
        Of fine and honest graining.
    The plain and open-hearted folks
        That make no fad a passion,
            The kind an’ fair
            That do an’ dare
        An’ are not slaves to fashion.

    Old-fashioned folks, that live and love
        And give their service gladly,
    An’ deem their neighbors worthy of
        Their help when things go badly.
    The simple sharers of our joys,
        Sweet ministers in sorrow,
    They help the world to keep its poise
        An’ strength for each tomorrow.
    The simple, unaffected folks
        That live for all about ‘em,
            God bless ‘em all,
            This earthly ball
        Would dreary be without ‘em.

  • Still Waters

    From the Newark Evening Star, March 5, 1914. By Edgar A. Guest.

    Kitty never had no use for men,
        Seemed to us she’d rather read an’ sew;
    None of us could ever point to when
        She had ever entertained a beau.
    Every time a feller came to call,
        Kitty never had a word to say,
    Never even showed him to the hall
        When at 10 o’clock he went away.

    Jim, we used to think, was jes’ as queer,
        Women used to scare him to a chill;
    When the girls come visitin’ us here
        He jes’ spent the evenin’ sittin’ still.
    “Women ain’t fer me,” he used to say,
        “I can’t get accustomed to their ways,”
    Then he’d grab his hat an’ run away
        Jes’ as though his mind was in a daze.

    Jim an’ Kitty scarcely ever spoke,
        Least we never saw ‘em, if they did;
    Never heard ‘em ever pass a joke.
        Much beneath still waters, though, is hid.
    Both of ‘em lived on the farm for years,
        Never once we saw ‘em arm in arm;
    But you shouldn’t judge from what appears,
        Leastwise if you’re livin’ on a farm.

    Kitty disappeared one mornin’ bright,
        All that day we looked in vain for Jim;
    But they both came back again at night,
        Kitty, smiling, hand in hand with him.
    Seemed they both had tired of single life,
        So she said, while brushing back the tears,
    Parson Brown had made ‘em man an’ wife,
        An’ they’d been engaged for twenty years.

  • His Simple Creed

    From the Omaha Daily Bee, November 23, 1913. By E. A. Guest.

    He didn’t have much of a creed,
        And his doctrine was not very deep;
    His faith wasn’t one he could read
        In volumes expensive or cheap.
    He helped all who asked when he could,
        He comforted all when they grieved,
    He believed in the right and the good,
        And he lived up to what he believed.

    He didn’t have much of a creed,
        His doctrine was simple and plain,
    But he seemed to have all that we need
        To balance life’s pleasure and pain.
    He wasn’t a fellow to shirk
        With burdens that could be relieved
    He believed ’twas his duty to work,
        And he lived up to what he believed.

    He put out his hand here and there
        To succor the weak and distressed,
    And when he had burdens to bear
        He bore them by doing his best.
    He refused to take profit or gain
        That was won by another deceived.
    He believed in a life without stain
        And he lived up to what he believed.

    I reckon when toiling is o’er,
        And all our struggles are through,
    When no one needs help anymore,
        And there are no good deeds to do,
    When the last of life’s dangers is braved,
        And the judgement of all is begun,
    Not by what we believed we’ll be saved,
        But by what, through believing, we’ve done.

  • The Joy of Getting Back

    From the Omaha Daily Bee, September 22, 1913. By E. A. Guest.

    There ain’t the joy in foreign skies that those of home possess,
    An’ friendliness o’ foreign folks ain’t home-town friendliness;
    An’ far-off landscapes with their thrills don’t grip me quite as hard
    As jes’ that little patch o’ green that’s in my own back yard.

    It’s good to feel a stranger’s hand grip heartily your own,
    It’s good to see a stranger’s smile when you are all alone;
    But though a stranger’s grip is warm, an’ though his smile is sweet,
    There’s something in the home folks’ way that has the stranger beat.

    A railroad train that’s outward bound bears many a man an’ dame
    Who think a thousand miles away the sunsets brighter flame;
    An’ seekin’ joys they think they lack they pack their grips an’ roam,
    An’ just as I, they some day find the sweetest joys at home.

    Away from home the girls are fair an’ men are kind of heart,
    An’ there you’ll always find a few who sigh when you depart;
    But though you rode a million miles o’er gleaming railroad track,
    You’d never find a joy to beat the joy of gettin’ back.

  • Off to School

    From the Omaha Daily Bee, September 16, 1913. By E. A. Guest.

    It doesn’t seem a year ago that I was tumbling out of bed
    The icy steps that lead below at 1 a. m., barefoot, to tread,
    And puttering round the kitchen stove, while chills ran up and down my form
    As I stood there and waited for her bottled dinner to get warm;
    Then sampled it to see that it was not too hot or not too cool,
    That doesn’t seem a year ago, and now she’s trudging off to school.

    It doesn’t seem a month ago that I was teaching her to walk,
    And holding out my arms to her. And that was ‘fore she learned to talk.
    I stood her up against the wall, eager, yet watchful lest she fall;
    Then suddenly she came to me—the first two steps those feet so small
    Had, unassisted, ever made! Those feet I hope to guide and rule;
    That doesn’t seem a month ago—and now she’s trudging off to school.

    Oh, Father Time, line deep my brow, and tinge my thinning hair with gray,
    Deal harshly with my battered form as you go speeding on your way;
    Print on my face your marks of years, and stamp me with your yesterdays,
    But, oh, tread softly now, I pray, the ground whereon my baby plays,
    Pass over her with gentle touch; to keep her young break every rule,
    But yesterday she was a babe—and now she’s trudging off to school.

  • Gardening

    From the Omaha Daily Bee, May 9, 1913.
     By Edgar A. Guest.
     I hold that gardening’s splendid fun.
         I am the chap that some think odd.
     I like to rise and greet the sun
         To turn and break the stubborn clod.
     It’s great to spend an hour or two
         Some care unto the back yard giving;
     But this I will admit to you:
         I’d hate to do it for a living.
     There is no toil that quite compares
         To delving daily with a spade
     And with a hoe cut down the tares
         Or bring a front lawn up to grade.
     With joy it makes the pulses throb
         And starts the heart beating gaily;
     ’Tis true I glory in the job
         But I would hate to do it daily.
     Take it from me, you sluggish men
         Whose arteries may someday harden
     For lack of work. ’Tis truth I pen;
         You ought to labor in a garden.
     Go bend your backs above a spade
         And strain your muscles with a hoe;
     There is no more delightful trade
         Unless that way you earn your dough.
     I glory in the stubborn ground
         And conquer it with fertilizer
     Now every morning I am found
         A bright and smiling early riser.
     It’s fun to haul in loads of dirt
         And lug out chunks of solid clay;
     In confidence, though, I’ll assert:
         I’d hate to do it by the day.
     Think you I mind this aching back
         Or care because my muscles twinge
     Or that my bones, with each attack
         Remind me of a rusty hinge?
     No! Gardening is wholly joy
         A source of pleasure unalloyed;
     But, confidentially, my boy,
         I’m glad I’m otherwise employed.
  • Kissing Games

    From the Omaha Daily Bee, May 2, 1913.
     By Edgar A. Guest.
     I watched them playing kissing games
         And chuckled to myself
     As I recalled the days before
         Time put me on the shelf.
     I watched that roguish lad of mine
         Salute each pretty miss
     With all the gusto that I showed
         When I was wont to kiss.
     But I am on the sidelines now
         And he is in the game
     And he is hugging pretty girls
         With eyes and cheeks aflame.
     And there’s no special one to pout
         Or raise a fuss when he
     Distributes his affections thus
         The way there is with me.
     What though he kiss a dozen maids
         And give them all a squeeze,
     Nobody sternly says to him:
         “What means this conduct, please?”
     Nobody stamps a pretty foot
         At him or starts to cry
     But this will come, when these glad years
         Of youth have wandered by.
     “Just like his dad,” I hear her say,
         And note her gentle smile;
     And I retort, “This freedom will
         But last a little while.
     Perhaps one of these lassies sweet
         Will some day rule his life
     And yet I hope, that like his dad
         He’ll choose as good a wife.”
  • Courage

    From the New York Tribune, October 15, 1912.
    By Edgar A. Guest.
     Discouraged, eh? The world looks dark,
       And all your hopes have gone astray;
     Your finest shots have missed the mark,
       You’re heartsick and discouraged, eh?
     Plans that you built from all went wrong,
       You cannot seem to find the way
     And it seems vain to plod along,
       You’re heartsick and discouraged, eh?
     Take heart! Each morning starts anew,
       Return unto the battle line;
     Against far greater odds than you
       Brave men have fought with courage fine.
     Despite the buffetings of fate,
       They’ve risen, time and time again,
     To stand, face front and shoulders straight
       As leaders of their fellow men.
     And you, now blinded by despair,
       Heartsick and weary of the fight,
     On every hand beset by care,
       Can, if you will, attain the light.