Famous Family Poem

Becoming a parent changes many things about your priorities and your outlook on life. In this famous poem, Edgar Guest (1881-1959) shares how life was before children and what changed once he became a father. The speaker realizes that he needs to be a better person because there’s a little one who will look up to everything he does, whether it’s good or bad. Edgar Guest wrote many poems on the topic of family. This poem is made up of octaves (eight line stanzas) that follow the rhyme scheme ABABCDCD.

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The Responsibility Of Fatherhood

Edgar Guest By more Edgar Guest

BEFORE you came, my little lad,
  I used to think that I was good,
Some vicious habits, too, I had,
  But wouldn't change them if I could.
I held my head up high and said:
  'I'm all that I have need to be,
It matters not what path I tread,'
  But that was ere you came to me.

I treated lightly sacred things,
  And went my way in search of fun,
Upon myself I kept no strings,
  And gave no heed to folly done.
I gave myself up to the fight
  For worldly wealth and earthly fame,
And sought advantage, wrong or right,
  But that was long before you came.

But now you sit across from me,
  Your big brown eyes are opened wide,
And every deed I do you see,
  And, O, I dare hot step aside.
I've shaken loose from habits bad,
  And what is wrong I've come to dread,
Because I know, my little lad,
  That you will follow where I tread.

I want those eyes to glow with pride,
  In me I want those eyes to see
The while we wander side by side
  The sort of man I'd have you be.
And so I'm striving to be good
  With all my might, that you may know
When this great world is understood,
  What pleasures are worth while below.

I see life in a different light
  From what I did before you came,
Then anything that pleased seemed right;
  But you are here to bear my name,
And you are looking up to me
  With those big eyes from day to day,
And I'm determined not to be
  The means of leading you astray.

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