We just had Bad Poetry Day so now we have a day where we can celebrate real live poets. Or in my case, dead poets. In my ever ongoing effort to find a new and exciting way to celebrate each holiday, I did a little looking around to see if there were any poet landmarks in Metro Detroit. Since all big cities are full of volumes of history, I was able to dig up some information on a poet by the name of Edgar A. Guest. Turns out Mr. Guest and his family came to Detroit from England in 1891 when Edgar was 10 years old. He began working at the Detroit Free Press as a young lad and had his first poem appear in the paper when he was just 18 years old. Over the years he wrote 11,000 poems that were syndicated in 300 newspapers. He was so popular that he even had a weekly radio program and an NBC television series titled, A Guest in Your Home. Guest was also made the Poet Laureate of Michigan, the only poet to receive this title. Sounds like he was quite the poet back in the day! I read some of his poetry and was happy to find that it is light and optimistic, a perfect way to help me celebrate today:
It don’t make a difference how rich ye get t’ be’
How much yer chairs and tables cost, how great the 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.
Within the walls there’s got t’ be some babies born an’ then…
Right there ye’ve got t’ bring em up t’ women good, an’ men;
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’ living in it.”
- –Excerpt from “Home,” A Heap o’ Livin’ (1916)
When you’re up against a trouble,
Meet it squarely, face to face,
Lift your chin, and set your shoulders,
Plant your feet and take a brace,
When it’s vain to try to dodge it,
Do the best that you can do.
You may fail, but you may conquer–
See it through!
- –Excerpt from “See It Through”
Edgar Guest passed away in 1959 and was buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit. Since this seemed to be a fitting way to honor Poet’s Day, Rich, Roman and I took a trip down 8 Mile to go on our daily adventure. I looked up his grave information online (yes, they do have EVERYTHING online these days) so we knew where we were headed. Unfortunately, whoever listed that information was a little off. It said his grave was in Section 27. We marched through that entire section, carrying a fidgety child, and did not run across the Guest gravesite. We hoofed it back to the front and went to the office for some clarification:
We were in the wrong section. It was Section 23 rather than 27. We traveled back through the huge cemetery marveling again at some of the giant monuments and found our way to the right spot. When we finally got to the Guest family plot, I was stunned to discover that Edgar’s gravestone was almost completely covered by dirt and leaves. We almost didn’t see it:
This made me a little sad. I would have thought with him being as beloved as he was that more people would visit. Especially since yesterday was his birthday! Rich and I worked to uncover and clean off his headstone so we could properly pay our respects:
I brought my fake-o daffodil from yesterday, I figured I wasn’t going to do anything else with it. I was not sure if I was going to leave it or not, but after seeing all the other fake flowers I decided it was okay:
I also left a note for Mr. Guest; I’ll leave the message I wrote between him and I:
I felt happy and content to have celebrated today’s holiday in this manner. I feel as if the whole point of having gravestones is for people to come and visit them. I was dumbfounded during my internet cemetery search that they now have the option to leave virtual flowers on deceased people’s gravesite page. What is that all about? I saw online that Edgar Guest had a lot of well wishes and flowers from yesterday since it was his birthday, but no one bothered to visit his actual grave. Sad times, but I hope the Dege family visit made Mr. Guest’s day a little bit better.
Total Cost to Celebrate: $0
Clip of the Day:
My Creed by Edgar Guest:
P.S. – This probably isn’t the best Guest poem, but it was the shortest AND read by Ben Kingsley! I hope you all take a second to enjoy it….or 59 seconds…..