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A Selection of Poems by Edgar A Guest

What Is Success?

Success is being friendly when another needs a friend;

It's in the cheery words you speak, and in the coins you lend;

Success is not alone in skill and deeds of daring great;

It's in the roses that you plant beside your garden gate.


Success is in the way you walk the paths of life each day;

It's in the little things you do and in the things you say;

Success is in the glad hello you give your fellow man;

It's in the laughter of your home and all the joys you plan.


Success is not in getting rich or rising high to fame;

It's not alone in winning goals which all men hope to claim;

It's in the man you are each day, through happiness or care;

It's in the cheery words you speak and in the smile you wear.


Success is being big of heart and clean and broad of mind;

It's being faithful to your friends, and to the stranger, kind;

It's in the children whom you love, and all they learn from you-

Success depends on character and everything you do.


When We Understand the Plan

I reckon when the world we leave

And cease to smile and cease to grieve,

When each of us shall quit the strife

And drop the working tools of life,

Somewhere, somehow, we'll come to find

Just what our Maker had in mind.


Perhaps through clearer eyes than these

We'll read life's hidden mysteries,

And learn the reason for our tears-

Why sometimes came unhappy years,

And why our dearest joys were brief

And bound so closely unto grief.


There is so much beyond our scope,

As blindly on through life we grope,

So much we cannot understand,

However wisely we have planned,

That all who walk this earth about

Are constantly beset by doubt.


No one of us can truly say

Why loved ones must be called away,

Why hearts are hurt, or e'en explain

Why some must suffer years of pain;

Yet some day all of us shall know

The reason why these things are so.


I reckon in the years to come,

When these poor lips of clay are dumb,

And these poor hands have ceased to toil,

Somewhere upon a fairer soil

God shall to all of us make clear

The purpose of our trials here.


All for the Best

Things mostly happen for the best.

However hard it seems to-day,

When some fond plan has gone astray

Or what you've wished for most is lost

An' you sit countin' up the cost

With eyes half-blind by tears o' grief

While doubt is chokin' out belief,

You'll find when all is understood

That what seemed bad was really good.


Life can't be counted in a day.

The present rain that will not stop

Next autumn means a bumper crop.

We wonder why some things must be-

Care's purpose we can seldom see-

An' yet long afterwards we turn

To view the past, an' then we learn

That what once filled our minds with doubt

Was good for us as it worked out.


I've never known an hour of care

But that I've later come to see

That it has brought some joy to me.

Even the sorrows I have borne,

Leavin' me lonely an' forlorn

An' hurt an' bruised an' sick at heart,

In life's great plan have had a part.

An' though I could not understand

Why I should bow to Death's command,

As time went on I came to know

That it was really better so.


Things mostly happen for the best.

So narrow is our vision here

That we are blinded by a tear

An' stunned by every hurt an' blow

Which comes to-day to strike us low.

An' yet some day we turn an' find

That what seemed cruel once was kind.

Most things, I hold, are wisely planned

If we could only understand.


To an Old Friend

When we have lived our little lives and wandered all their byways through,

When we've seen all that we shall see and finished all that we must do,

When we shall take one backward look off yonder where our journey ends,

I pray that you shall be as glad as I shall be that we were friends.


Time was we started out to find the treasures and the joys of life;

We sought them in the land of gold through many days of bitter strife.

When we were young we yearned for fame; in search of joy we went afar,

Only to learn how very cold and distant all the strangers are.


When we have met all we shall meet and know what destiny has planned,

I shall rejoice in that last hour that I have known your friendly hand;

I shall go singing down the way off yonder as my sun descends

As one who's had a happy life, made glorious by the best of friends.


The Dead Return

The dead return. I know they do;

The glad smile may have passed from view,

The ringing voice that cheered us so

In that remembered long ago

Be stilled, and yet in sweeter ways

It speaks to us throughout our days.

The kindly father comes again

To guide us through the haunts of men,

And always near, their sons to greet

Are lingering the mothers sweet.

About us wheresoe'er we tread

Hover the spirits of our dead;

We cannot see them as we could

In bygone days, when near they stood

And shared the joys and griefs that came,

But they are with us just the same.

They see us as we plod along,

And proudly smile when we are strong,

And sigh and grieve the self-same way

When thoughtlessly we go astray.

I sometimes think it hurts the dead

When into sin and shame we're led,

And that they feel a thrill divine

When we've accomplished something fine.

And sometimes thoughts that come at night

Seem more like messages that might

Have whispered been by one we love,

Whose spirit has been called above.

So wise the counsel, it must be

That all we are the dead can see.

The dead return. They come to share

Our laughter and our bit of care;

They glory, as they used to do,

When we are splendid men and true,

In all the joy that we have won,

And they are proud of what we've done.

They suffer when we suffer woe;

All things about us here they know.

And though we never see them here

Their spirits hover very near.


I'd Like To Think

I'd like to think when life is done

That I had filled a needed post,

That here and there I'd paid my fare

With more than idle talk and boast;

That I had taken gifts divine,

The breath of life and manhood fine,

And tried to use them now and then

In service for my fellow men.



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