On Quitting

By Edgar Albert Guest 1881–1959
How much grit do you think you’ve got?
Can you quit a thing that you like a lot?
You may talk of pluck; it’s an easy word,
And where’er you go it is often heard;
But can you tell to a jot or guess
Just how much courage you now possess?

You may stand to trouble and keep your grin,
But have you tackled self-discipline?
Have you ever issued commands to you
To quit the things that you like to do,
And then, when tempted and sorely swayed,
Those rigid orders have you obeyed?

Don’t boast of your grit till you’ve tried it out,
Nor prate to men of your courage stout,
For it’s easy enough to retain a grin
In the face of a fight there’s a chance to win,
But the sort of grit that is good to own
Is the stuff you need when you’re all alone.

How much grit do you think you’ve got?
Can you turn from joys that you like a lot?
Have you ever tested yourself to know
How far with yourself your will can go?
If you want to know if you have grit,
Just pick out a joy that you like, and quit.

It’s bully sport and it’s open fight;
It will keep you busy both day and night;
For the toughest kind of a game you’ll find
Is to make your body obey your mind.
And you never will know what is meant by grit
Unless there’s something you’ve tried to quit.

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Poet Edgar Albert Guest 1881–1959

Subjects Activities, Disappointment & Failure, Living, Religion, Faith & Doubt, Sports & Outdoor Activities

Occasions Farewells & Good Luck, Get Well & Recovery

Poetic Terms Couplet

 Edgar Albert Guest

Biography

Edgar Guest began his career at the Detroit Free Press in 1895, where he first worked as a copyboy. He was soon promoted to police writer and later to exchange editor, and in 1904 he began writing verse for the Free Press under the heading "Chaff." Those columns evolved into an immensely popular daily feature entitled "Breakfast Table Chat," which, at the height of its popularity, was syndicated in about three hundred other . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Activities, Disappointment & Failure, Living, Religion, Faith & Doubt, Sports & Outdoor Activities

Poetic Terms Couplet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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