Edgar Albert Guest was a prolific English-born American poet who was popular in the first half of the 20th century and became known as the People’s Poet. His poems often had an inspirational and optimistic view of everyday life.
Labour Day Poem: They Earned The Right
I knew Ket and Knudsen, Zeller, Zeder and Breer.
I knew Henry Ford back yonder as a light-plant engineer.
I’m a knew-’em-when companion who frequently recalls
That none of the those big brothers were too proud for overalls.
All the Fishers, all the leaders, all the motion pioneers
Worked at molds or lathes or benches at the start of their careers.
Chrysler, Keller, Nash and others whom I could but now won’t name
Had no high-falutin’ notion ease and softness led to fame.
They had work to do and did it. Did it bravely, did it right,
Never thinking it important that their collars should be white.
Never counted hours of labor, never wished their tasks to cease,
And for years their two companions were those brothers, dirt and grease.
Boy, this verse is fact, not fiction, all the fellows I have named
Worked for years for wages and were never once ashamed.
Dirt and grease were their companions, better friends than linen white;
Better friends than ease and softness, golf or dancing every night.
Now in evening clothes you see them in the nation’s banquet halls.
But they earned the right to be there, years ago, in overalls.