Edgar Guest (1881-1959)
Born in Birmingham, England in 1881, Guest came to the United States at the age of ten. As a young man he started to work for the Detroit Free Press, first as a copy boy and then as a reporter. His first poem appeared in the paper in 1898. Guest’s popularity increased through the years and he was soon dubbed as the “People’s Poet.” Guest is credited with writing over 11,000 poems which were syndicated in over 300 U.S. newspapers. He has twenty books to his credit, including A Heap o’ Livin’ and Just Folks. He was made poet laureate of Michigan. He hosted a weekly Detroit radio show and a national NBC television series, A Guest in Your House. Guest died in 1959.
The Merchant Marine
We seldom get their names,
In spite of all they do.
They're merely mentioned in the press
As members of the crew
Yet they're the men whose courage,
Arms and clothes, equips and feeds,
The boys in every battle zone
Who do the glorious deeds?
We speak of them as merchantmen,
Yet when they once set out,
No matter where their course may run,
Death follows them about
They're stalked by death from port to port,
When once the anchor is weighed,
From master down to cabin boy.
They're sailors unafraid,
They know the lurking submarines,
They've seen them break the wave.
And still with little means to fight,
The cruel odds they brave,
Sometimes they are struck in the dead of night,
And into rafts they fall—
And drift about and pray to god,
To save them all.
We think of them as merchantmen,
But when the war is won,
They too must share the pride,
For duty nobly done,
And when the world is free once more,
And home the boys from sea,
When from the foxholes come,
The lads with us once more to be
When from the skies the boys slip down
Let all remember then,
The courage of the Yankee youth,
Who sailed as merchantmen.