Edgar Albert Guest, Prophetic?

A blogger shared a poem from Poet Edgar Albert Guest. As I read it it struck me that here was a poet who wrote for the common man; and he did indeed become known as the People’s Poet. Of course I’d read some of his works in the past, but for some reason they didn’t grab me as the one I read this morning has. Nor the ones I’ve read since. I would love to make an audio recording reciting some of his poems because they are still relevant today, and they roll off the tongue so beautifully. He was a Master Poet!

Here is one that instantly brought the USA to mind. It’s a scary thought, but so many in the West have indeed handed riches to their children without thought of whither those unearned riches would be a blessing or a curse. This poem sounds an alarm for us. We have become so rich and spoiled in the West that we have sent out not only our laundry but also our jobs. We’ve built-up playpens in every town and stood indignant as our strengths eroded.

Ideals

By

Edgar Albert Guest (1881-1959)

Better than land or gold or trade
Are a high ideal and a purpose true;
Better than all of the wealth we’ve made
Is the work for others that now we do.

For Rome grew rich and she turned to song
And danced to music and drank her wine,
But she sapped the strength of her fibres strong
And a gilded shroud was her splendor fine.                                                                                

The Rome of old with its wealth and wine
Was the handiwork of a sturdy race;
They builded well and they made it fine
And they dreamed of it as their children’s place.

They thought the joys they had won to give,
And which seemed so certain and fixed and sure,
To the end of time in the world would live
And the Rome they’d fashioned would long endure.

They passed to their children the hoarded gold,
Their marble halls and their fertile fields!
But not the spirit of Rome of old,
Nor the Roman courage that never yields.

They left them the wealth that their hands had won,
But they failed to leave them a purpose true.
They left them thinking life’s work all done,
And Rome went down and was lost to view.                                                                            

We must guard ourselves lest we follow Rome.
We must leave our children the finer things.
We must teach them love of the spot called home
And the lasting joy that a purpose brings.

For vain are our Flag and our battles won,
And vain are our lands and our stores of gold,
If our children feel that life’s work is done.
We must give them a high ideal to hold. 

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Angela Young
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 16:27:26

    AMEN! It’s amazing how many people lavish their children with everything (often while leaving off discipline) and then wonder what happens. Things do not = love. ::shakes head sadly::

    Reply

  2. Deanna Schrayer
    Jan 07, 2012 @ 16:33:14

    So well said! Thanks for posting this Elizabeth, now I’ll have to read a lot more of his poetry.

    Reply

  3. Tuula
    Jan 09, 2012 @ 23:29:51

    Prophetic indeed! It’s a shame more people haven’t heeded his warning… would hate to see America fall the same way:(
    We need to pray for this nation now like never before!

    Reply

  4. elizabeth
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 07:30:16

    Hey Tuula :) Good to see you here. And I so agree with you.

    Reply

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