Gettin’ Old

by Edgar Guest

Gettin old’s not hard, I say,
if it’s done the proper way;
when you’re finding’ out how much
joy is in the common touch,
learnin’ from experience
and the book of common sense
that a man, whoe’er he be,
richly dressed or poor to see,
really’s tryin’ hard to do
just about the same as you;
when you’ve found the worth of gold,
then you’re glad you’re gettin’ old.

When you’ve come along the years
with their smiles and bitter tears,
and have seen through clearer eyes
many things you used to prize
lose their value, and you know
much you didn’t long ago;
when you’ve learned that creed and birth
are not real stamps of worth,
and you’ve scraped through the veneer
of the sham and pomp down here
to tell the truth you want to hold,
then you’re glad you’re gettin’ old.

When you’ve come at last to find
joy is born of bein’ kind;
when you’re learned to disbelieve
tales which make another grieve
and to them you shut your ear;
when you are not quick to sneer
and have turned from selfish strife
to the gentler ways of life,
in your wisdom finding out
things you never dreamed about
in your youthful way days and bold —
then you’re glad you’re getting old.

Gettin’ old’s not hard, I say,
if it’s done the proper way,
youth is made with haste and blind
to the peace which old men find,
but when you have traveled far,
come to know men as they are,
when you’ve learned through hurts and aches
all the errors hot youth makes
and have found the lasting worth
of the simpler joys of earth;
when life’s purposes unfold,
then you’re glad you’re gettin’ old.

Failures

Wise words from Edgar A Guest

‘Tis better to have tried in vain
sincerely striving for a goal,
than to have lived upon the plain
an idle and a timid soul.

‘Tis better to have fought and spent
your courage, missing all applause,
than to have lived in smug content
and never ventured for a cause.

For he who tries and fails may be
the founder of a better day;
though never his the victory,
from him shall others learn the way.

From his book A Heap O’ Livin

The Reading Mother

Strickland Gillilan, 1869-1954, was an American poet and humorist, and this is the verse he’s most famous for:

The Reading Mother

I had a Mother who read to me
sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
“blackbirds” stowed in the hold beneath.

I had a Mother who read me lays
of ancient and gallant and golden days;
stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
which every boy has a eight to know.

I had a Mother who read me tales
of Gêlert the hound of the hills of Wales,
true to his trust till his tragic death,
faithfulness blent with his final breath.

I had a Mother who read me the things
that wholesome life to the boy heart brings —
stories that stir with an upward touch.
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!

You may have tangible wealth untold;
caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be —
I had a Mother who read to me.

My contribution today to National Poetry Month is taken from The Best Loved Poems of the American People. © 1936 by Doubleday & Company, New York.

I found this book at a second-hand book sale this afternoon. Almost 650 pages for $1 — quite a bargain!