Poet: Edgar Albert Guest
Born: 20 August 1881, Birmingham, England
Died: 5 August 1959, Michigan, USA
Guest was a poet, popular in the first half of the 20th century. He became known as the People’s Poet well-known for poetry with an optimistically inspirational view on everyday life. He was born in Birmingham, UK in 1881, later that year his family moved to the USA where he grew up.
He began working at the Detroit Free Press as a copy boy and then a reporter, and his first poem was published in 1898. In 1902 he became a naturalized citizen. For some forty years Guest was widely read across North America. From 1898 until his death in 1959 Guest penned some 11,000 poems, which were syndicated in 300 newspapers and collected in more than 20 books, including ‘Just Folks’ and ‘A Heap of Livin’. His popularity led to guest hosting a weekly Detroit radio show from 1931 until 1942, followed by ‘A Guest in Your House’ in 1951 on NBC.
Guest was a Freemason in Detroit, and a lifetime member of Ashlar Lodge No. 91. The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Michigan established the Edgar A. Guest Award, in honour of his devotion to the Craft, community and humanity, for lodges to present to non-Masons within the community for distinguished service to the community and fellow man.
Guest died in 1959 and was buried in Detroit’s Woodlawn Cemetery
Home by Edgar Albert Guest
It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home,
A heap o’ sun an’ shadder, an’ ye sometimes have t’ roam
Afore ye really ‘preciate the things ye lef’ behind,
An’ hunger fer ’em somehow, with ’em allus on yer mind.
It don’t make any differunce how rich ye get t’ be,
How much yer chairs an’ tables cost, how great yer luxury;
It ain’t home t’ ye, though it be the palace of a king,
Until somehow yer soul is sort o’ wrapped round everything.
Home ain’t a place that gold can buy or get up in a minute;
Afore it’s home there’s got t’ be a heap o’ livin’ in it;
Within the walls there’s got t’ be some babies born, and then
Right there ye’ve got t’ bring ’em up t’ women good, an’ men;
And gradjerly as time goes on, ye find ye wouldn’t part
With anything they ever used — they’ve grown into yer heart:
The old high chairs, the playthings, too, the little shoes they wore
Ye hoard; an’ if ye could ye’d keep the thumb-marks on the door.
Ye’ve got t’ weep t’ make it home, ye’ve got t’ sit an’ sigh
An’ watch beside a loved one’s bed, an’ know that Death is nigh;
An’ in the stillness o’ the night t’ see Death’s angel come,
An’ close the eyes o’ her that smiled, an’ leave her sweet voice dumb.
Fer these are scenes that grip the heart, an’ when yer tears are dried,
Ye find the home is dearer than it was, an’ sanctified;
An’ tuggin’ at ye always are the pleasant memories
o’ her that was an’ is no more—ye can’t escape from these.
Ye’ve got t’ sing an’ dance fer years, ye’ve got t’ romp an’ play,
An’ learn t’ love the things ye have by usin’ ’em each day;
Even the roses ’round the porch must blossom year by year
Afore they ‘come a part o’ ye, suggestin’ someone dear
Who used t’ love ’em long ago, an’ trained ’em jes t’ run
The way they do, so’s they would get the early mornin’ sun;
Ye’ve got t’ love each brick an’ stone from cellar up t’ dome:
It takes a heap o’ livin’ in a house t’ make it home.