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The Good Little Boy

Regular readers of Off The Record will know that I’m completely in love with the writing of the American poet Edgar Guest. He had the most gentle, incisive ability to bring the things of everyday life into the simplest, most powerful verse.
As Dad – as any parent – the joys and the duties of a little one come together as a package.  It’s hard sometimes to be firm and gentle at the same time as you channel a very strong-willed chap with a real sense of his own identity and, if we’re honest, his Dad’s intolerance of delay and obfuscation.  But when we look across the generations, it’s always good to remember a different time and a different little boy who was, perhaps, no so different.
This is great.


Once there was a boy who never
Tore his clothes, or hardly ever,
Never made his sister mad,
Never whipped fer bein’ bad,
Never scolded by his Ma,
Never frowned at by his Pa,
Always fit fer folks to see,
Always good as good could be.
This good little boy from Heaven,
So I’m told, was only seven,
Yet he never shed real tears
When his mother scrubbed his ears,
An’ at times when he was dressed
Fer a party, in his best,
He was careful of his shirt
Not to get it smeared with dirt.
Used to study late at night,
Learnin’ how to read an’ write;
When he played a baseball game,
Right away he always came
When his mother called him in.
An’ he never made a din
But was quiet as a mouse
when they’d comp’ny in the house.
Liked to wash his hands an’ face,
Liked to work around the place;
Never, when he’d tired of play,
Left his wagon in the way,
Or his bat an’ ball around–
Put ’em where they could be found;
An’ that good boy married Ma,
An’ to-day he is my Pa.



Personal views of a wordsmithing, sartorialist, horn-playing, state school Oxonian dad, rugby ref, recovering politico, and fan of vintage tailoring, Ralph Lauren style, and sharp writing.

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