Poet Edgar Albert Guest

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Care-Free Youth

The skies are blue and the sun is out
and the grass is green and soft
And the old charm's back in the apple tree
and it calls a boy aloft;
And the same low voice that the old don't hear,
but the care-free youngsters do,
Is calling them to the fields and streams
and the joys that once I knew.
And if youth be wild desire for play
and care is the mark of men,
Beneath the skin that Time has tanned
I'm a madcap youngster then.

Far richer than king with his crown of gold
and his heavy weight of care
Is the sunburned boy with his stone-bruised feet
and his tousled shock of hair;
For the king can hear but the cry of hate
or the sickly sound of praise,
And lost to him are the voices sweet
that called in his boyhood days.
Far better than ruler, with pomp and power
and riches, is it to be
The urchin gay in his tattered clothes
that is climbing the apple tree.

Oh, once I heard all the calls that come
to the quick, glad ears of boys,
And a certain spot on the river bank
told me of its many joys,
And certain fields and certain trees
were loyal friends to me,
And I knew the birds, and I owned a dog,
and we both could hear and see.
Oh, never from tongues of men have dropped
such messages wholly glad
As the things that live in the great outdoors
once told to a little lad.

And I'm sorry for him who cannot hear
what the tall trees have to say,
Who is deaf to the call of a running stream
and the lanes that lead to play.
The boy that shins up the faithful elm
or sprawls on a river bank
Is more richly blessed with the joys of life
than any old man of rank.
For youth is the golden time of life,
and this battered old heart of mine
Beats fast to the march of its old-time joys,
when the sun begins to shine.

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