The Little Orphan

By Edgar Albert Guest 1881–1959
The crowded street his playground is, a patch of blue his sky;
A puddle in a vacant lot his sea where ships pass by:
Poor little orphan boy of five, the city smoke and grime
Taint every cooling breeze he gets throughout the summer time;
And he is just as your boy is, a child who loves to play,
Except that he is drawn and white and cannot get away.

And he would like the open fields, for often in his dreams
The angels kind bear him off to where are pleasant streams,
Where he may sail a splendid boat, sometimes he flies a kite,
Or romps beside a shepherd dog and shouts with all his might;
But when the dawn of morning comes he wakes to find once more
That what he thought were sun-kissed hills are rags upon the floor.

Then through the hot and sultry day he plays at “make-pretend,”
The alley is a sandy beach where all the rich folks send
Their little boys and girls to play, a barrel is his boat,
But, oh, the air is tifling and the dust fills up his throat;
And though he tries so very hard to play, somehow it seems
He never gets such wondrous joys as angels bring in dreams.

Poor little orphan boy of five, except that he is pale,
With sunken cheeks and hollow eyes and very wan and frail,
Just like that little boy of yours, with same desire to play,
Fond of the open fields and skies, he’s built the self-same way;
But kept by fate and circumstance away from shady streams,
His only joy comes when he sleeps and angels bring him dreams.

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Poet Edgar Albert Guest 1881–1959

Subjects Class, Living, Social Commentaries, Money & Economics, Youth

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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SUBJECT Class, Living, Social Commentaries, Money & Economics, Youth

Poetic Terms Couplet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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