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What I Call Living
Edgar Guest

The miser thinks he's living when he's hoarding up his gold;
The soldier calls it living when he's doing something bold;
The sailor thinks it living to be tossed upon the sea,
And upon this vital subject no two of us agree.
But I hold to the opinion, as I walk my way along,
That living's made of laughter and good-fellowship and song.
I wouldn't call it living always to be seeking gold,
To bank all the present gladness for the days when I'll be old.
I wouldn't call it living to spend all my strength for fame,
And forego the many pleasures which to-day are mine to claim.
I wouldn't for the splendor of the world set out to roam,
And forsake my laughing children and the peace I know at home.
Oh, the thing that I call living isn't gold or fame at all!
It's good-fellowship and sunshine, and it's roses by the wall;
It's evenings glad with music and a hearth fire that's ablaze,
And the joys which come to mortals in a thousand different ways.
It is laughter and contentment and the struggle for a goal;
It is everything that's needful in the shaping of a soul.

This poem is in the public domain.

Edgar Guest (1881 - 1959)  was born in England,  but moved with his family to Detroit, Michigan, when he was ten years old. He worked for more than sixty years at the Detroit Free Press, publishing his first poem at the age of seventeen, then going on to become a reporter and columnist whose work was featured in hundreds of newspapers around the country. Edgar is said to have written some 11,000 poems during his lifetime, most of it sentimental, short, upbeat verse. Critics often derided his work, but America adored him. He was known as the "People's Poet," served as Michigan's poet laureate, hosted a long-running radio show and TV show, and published more than twenty books.


Post New Comment:
As a Barbershop singer this wondersul year beginning poem struck a special chord and I want to share it with my fellows right away.
Posted 01/03/2013 12:58 PM
A great poem to read at the beginning of the year as I reflect on priorities. Love the last line. Thanks!
Posted 01/03/2013 11:20 AM
I, too, love reading this poem to start out a new year! it is so positive and true, I think.
Posted 01/03/2013 11:03 AM
Another great poem to start the year. Thanks!
Posted 01/03/2013 10:45 AM
I love the images created in this poem--the singing, the warm hearth, even roses on the wall. These are part of a world we don't often see in our modern society.
Posted 01/03/2013 08:11 AM
Your comment that Guest is the Andy Griffith of poetry is pretty apt!
Posted 01/03/2013 07:48 AM

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