A Patriotic Creed

- 1881-1959
To serve my country day by day
At any humble post I may;
To honor and respect her Flag,
To live the traits of which I brag;
To be American in deed
As well as in my printed creed.
 
To stand for truth and honest toil,
To till my little patch of soil
And keep in mind the debt I owe
To them who died that I might know
My country, prosperous and free,
And passed this heritage to me.
 
I must always in trouble’s hour
Be guided by the men in power;
For God and country I must live,
My best for God and country give;
No act of mine that men may scan
Must shame the name American.
 
To do my best and play my part,
American in mind and heart;
To serve the flag and bravely stand
To guard the glory of my land;
To be American in deed,
God grant me strength to keep this creed.
 

More by Edgar Guest

Father

My father knows the proper way 
   The nation should be run; 
He tells us children every day 
   Just what should now be done. 
He knows the way to fix the trusts, 
   He has a simple plan; 
But if the furnace needs repairs, 
   We have to hire a man. 


My father, in a day or two 
   Could land big thieves in jail; 
There's nothing that he cannot do, 
   He knows no word like "fail." 
"Our confidence" he would restore, 
   Of that there is no doubt; 
But if there is a chair to mend, 
   We have to send it out. 


All public questions that arise, 
   He settles on the spot; 
He waits not till the tumult dies, 
   But grabs it while it's hot. 
In matters of finance he can 
   Tell Congress what to do; 
But, O, he finds it hard to meet 
   His bills as they fall due. 


It almost makes him sick to read 
   The things law-makers say; 
Why, father's just the man they need, 
   He never goes astray. 
All wars he'd very quickly end, 
   As fast as I can write it; 
But when a neighbor starts a fuss, 
   'Tis mother has to fight it. 


In conversation father can 
   Do many wondrous things; 
He's built upon a wiser plan 
   Than presidents or kings. 
He knows the ins and outs of each 
   And every deep transaction; 
We look to him for theories, 
   But look to ma for action.

A Toast to the Men

Dedicated to the Women


Here's to the men! Since Adam's time 
      They've always been the same; 
Whenever anything goes wrong, 
      The woman is to blame. 
From early morn to late at night, 
      The men fault-finders are; 
They blame us if they oversleep, 
      Or if they miss a car. 
They blame us if, beneath the bed, 
      Their collar buttons roll; 
They blame us if the fire is out 
      Or if there is no coal. 
They blame us if they cut themselves 
      While shaving, and they swear 
That we're to blame if they decide 
      To go upon a tear. 


Here's to the men, the perfect men! 
      Who never are at fault; 
They blame us if they chance to get 
      The pepper for the salt. 
They blame us if their business fails, 
      Or back a losing horse; 
And when it rains on holidays 
      The fault is ours, of course. 
They blame us when they fall in love, 
      And when they married get; 
Likewise they blame us when they're sick, 
      And when they fall in debt. 
For everything that crisscross goes 
      They say we are to blame; 
But, after all, here's to the men, 
      We love them just the same!

On Quitting

How much grit do you think you've got? 
Can you quit a thing that you like a lot? 
You may talk of pluck; it's an easy word, 
And where'er you go it is often heard; 
But can you tell to a jot or guess 
Just how much courage you now possess? 


You may stand to trouble and keep your grin, 
But have you tackled self-discipline? 
Have you ever issued commands to you 
To quit the things that you like to do, 
And then, when tempted and sorely swayed, 
Those rigid orders have you obeyed? 


Don't boast of your grit till you've tried it out, 
Nor prate to men of your courage stout, 
For it's easy enough to retain a grin 
In the face of a fight there's a chance to win, 
But the sort of grit that is good to own 
Is the stuff you need when you're all alone. 


How much grit do you think you've got? 
Can you turn from joys that you like a lot? 
Have you ever tested yourself to know 
How far with yourself your will can go? 
If you want to know if you have grit, 
Just pick out a joy that you like, and quit. 


It's bully sport and it's open fight; 
It will keep you busy both day and night; 
For the toughest kind of a game you'll find 
Is to make your body obey your mind. 
And you never will know what is meant by grit 
Unless there's something you've tried to quit.

Related Poems

Let America Be America Again

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine—the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!