One Never Knows

Poems from Edgar A. Guest about being kind; wise words to inspire us to do acts of kindness. We never know the impact it will have on someone's life, it may seem like a small thing to do but the result of our kindness may have lasting effects on someone's life. Be inspired by these poems.


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  1. One Never Knows
    Poet: Edgar A. Guest


    One never knows
    How far a word of kindness goes;
    One never sees
    How far a smile of friendship flees.
    Down, through the years,
    The deed forgotten reappears.

    One kindly word
    The souls of many here has stirred.
    Man goes his way
    And tells with every passing day,
    Until life's end:
    'Once unto me he played the friend.'

    We cannot say
    What lips are praising us to-day.
    We cannot tell
    Whose prayers ask God to guard us well.
    But kindness lives
    Beyond the memory of him who gives



  2. All That Matters
    Poet: Edgar A. Guest


    When all that matters shall be written down
    And the long record of our years is told,
    Where sham, like flesh, must perish and grow cold;
    When the tomb closes on our fair renown
    And priest and layman, sage and motleyed clown
    Must quit the places which they dearly hold,
    What to our credit shall we find enscrolled?

    And what shall be the jewels of our crown?
    I fancy we shall hear to our surprise
    Some little deeds of kindness, long forgot,
    Telling our glory, and the brave and wise
    Deeds which we boasted often, mentioned not.
    God gave us life not just to buy and sell,
    And all that matters is to live it well.



  3. Greatness
    Poet: Edgar A. Guest


    We can be great by helping one another;
    We can be loved for very simple deeds:
    Who has the grateful mention of a brother
    Has really all the honor that he needs.

    We can be famous for our works of kindness -
    Fame is not born alone of strength or skill;
    It sometimes comes from deafness and from blindness
    To petty words and faults, and loving still.

    We can be rich in gentle smiles and sunny:
    A jeweled soul exceeds a royal crown.
    The richest men sometimes have little money.
    And Croesus oft's the poorest man in town.



  4. A Real Man
    Poet: Edgar A. Guest


    Men are of two kinds, and he
    Was of the kind I'd like to be.
    Some preach their virtues, and a few
    Express their lives by what they do.
    That sort was he. No flowery phrase
    Or glibly spoken words of praise
    Won friends for him. He wasn't cheap
    Or shallow, but his course ran deep.
    And it was pure. You know the kind.
    Not many in a life you find
    Whose deeds outrun their words so far
    That more than what they seem they are.

    There are two kinds of lies as well:
    The kind you live, the ones you tell.
    Back through his years from age to youth
    He never acted one untruth.
    Out in the open light he fought
    And didn't care what others thought
    Nor what they said about his fight
    If he believed that he was right.
    The only deeds he ever hid
    Were acts of kindness that he did.

    What speech he had was plain and blunt.
    His was an unattractive front.
    Yet children loved him; babe and boy
    Played with the strength he could employ,
    Without one fear, and they are fleet
    To sense injustice and deceit.
    No back door gossip linked his name
    With any shady tale of shame.
    He did not have to compromise
    With evil-doers, shrewd and wise,
    And let them ply their vicious trade
    Because of some past escapade.

    Men are of two kinds, and he
    Was of the kind I'd like to be.
    No door at which he ever knocked
    Against his manly form was locked.
    If ever man on earth was free
    And independent, it was he.
    No broken pledge lost him respect,
    He met all men with head erect,
    And when he passed I think there went
    A soul to yonder firmament
    So white, so splendid and so fine
    It came almost to God's design.

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