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Edgar Guest

I have to live with myself and so
I want to be fit for myself to know.
I want to be able as days go by,
always to look myself straight in the eye;
I don’t want to stand with the setting sun
and hate myself for the things I have done.
I don’t want to keep on a closet shelf
a lot of secrets about myself
and fool myself as I come and go
into thinking no one else will ever know
the kind of person I really am,
I don’t want to dress up myself in sham.
I want to go out with my head erect
I want to deserve all men’s respect;
but here in the struggle for fame and wealth
I want to be able to like myself.
I don’t want to look at myself and know 
I am bluster and bluff and empty show.
I never can hide myself from me;
I see what others may never see;
I know what others may never know,
I never can fool myself and so,
whatever happens I want to be
self respecting and conscience free.

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:
TIPLady, MI :
I am 78 years old and my 6th Grade Teacher made Our Entire Class memorize this poem. It is something We NEVER FORGOT! MY 50 YEAR CLASS REUNION IS COMING UP!~ The TIP Lady, MI
Posted 04/08/2024 02:06 PM
I can relate to this poem only too much. It's a beautiful reminder to everyone to be true to yourself and to everyone else.
Posted 12/03/2023 11:52 PM
The Nun that was our teacher in 5th and 6th grade made us memorize the first part of this poem as punishment. She stopped at '...hate myself' in the 6th line. She was a devious woman.
Posted 09/12/2023 02:16 PM
I still remember memorizing and reciting this poem in the seventh grade for an oratorical contest. I won. Today, in my seventies, I still remember every line, Its meaning is now truer than ever to me. I will pass it on to my grandson who is entering his senior year in high school this year.
Posted 06/06/2022 12:43 PM
Posted 05/27/2020 11:36 PM
Joe Sottile:
Preachy? Yes. Inspirational? Yes! It reminds me of a marvelous poem by Michael Josephson, "What Will Matter." I recently received permission to use it in a new book that I am working on for preteens.
Posted 09/13/2011 10:44 AM

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