The Junk Box

The verses in this poem represent many a person. Keeping things for when we need it, as everything is useful and has a purpose. The poem then takes a turn and refers to mankind and reminds us that each and every person has worth to offer and service to give. Edgar A Guest expresses wisdom in these verses!

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The Junk Box
by Edgar Guest

My father often used to say:
"My boy, don’t throw a thing away;
You’ll find a use for it someday.”

So in a box he stored up things,
Bent nails, old washers, pipes and rings,
And bolts and nuts and rusty springs.

Despite each blemish and each flaw,
some use for everything he saw.
with things material, this was law.

And often when he’d work to do,
he searched the junk box through and through,
and found old stuff as good as new.

And I have often thought since then,
that father did the same with men;
he knew he’d need their help again.

It seems to me he understood,
that men, as well as iron and wood,
may broken be and still be good.

Despite the vices he’d display,
he never threw a man away,
but kept him for another day.

A human junk box is this earth,
and into it we’re tossed at birth,
to wait the day we’ll be of worth.

Though bent and twisted, weak of will,
and full of flaws and lacking skill,
some service each can render still.

More Edgar A. Guest Poems to Inspire

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Another poem by Edgar A. Guest that reminds us of our service to each other:

Only a Building
Poet: Edgar Guest

You may delve down to rock for your foundation piers,
You may go with your steel to the sky;
You may purchase the best of the thought of the years
And the finest of workmanship buy;
You may line with the rarest of marble each wall,
And with gold you can tint it, but then
It is only a building if it after all
Isn't filled with the spirit of men.

You may put up a structure of brick and of stone
Such as never was put up before;
Place within it the costliest woods that are grown
And carve every pillar and door;
You may fill it with splendors of quarry and mine,
With the glories of brush and of pen;
But it's only a building, though ever so fine,
If it hasn't the spirit of men.

You may build such a structure that lightning can't harm.
Or one that an earthquake can't raze;
You may build it of granite and boast that its charm
Shall last to the end of all days.
But you might as well never have builded at all.
Never cleared off the bog and the fen
If after it's finished, it's sheltering wall
Doesn't stand for the spirit of men.

For it isn't the marble, nor is it the stone.
Nor is it the columns of steel
By which is the worth of an edifice known.
But something that's living and real.
It isn't its grandeur that makes a place great,
For a shack becomes glorious when
(And thousands will gladly walk up to its gate)
It is doing a service for men.

Is it only a building you dedicate here
With its splendors of marble and stone?
Is it only with brick and with plaster you rear,
Or something of flesh and of bone?
Oh, vain were this building, though splendid its dress,
And vain were its desks and its shelves
That you dedicate now to man's service, unless
You dedicate also yourselves.

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