“Don’t Quit” Poem by Edgar A. Guest

“Never give up” – a phrase we often hear, but what does it truly mean to embody this spirit in our daily lives? Edgar A. Guest’s poem “Don’t Quit” delves into this very question. 

Known for his accessible and heartening poetry, Guest’s “Don’t Quit” stands as *the* symbol of hope and perseverance. It’s a poem that has touched so many, offering solace and motivation during challenging times. 

This article will explore the depths of this poem, unveiling its profound message and the impact it continues to have.

“Don’t Quit” Poem by Edgar A. Guest

"Don't Quit" Full Poem By Edgar A. Guest

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,

When the funds are low but the debts are high,

And you want to smile but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is strange with its twists and turns,

As every one of us sometimes learns,

And many failures turn about

When we might have won had we stuck it out.

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –

You may succeed with another blow.

Success is failure turned inside out –

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,

You can never tell how close you are,

It may be near when it seems so far;

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –

It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

Edgar A. Guest

Meaning of the Poem

At its essence, “Don’t Quit” is a poem about the relentless pursuit of goals and dreams, even when the journey is fraught with obstacles. Guest begins by painting a vivid picture of life’s hardships, where the road is uphill, and financial struggles weigh heavily. Yet, he advises not just to endure these challenges but to face them with a spirit that refuses to surrender.

The poem acknowledges life’s unpredictable nature, filled with twists and turns, often leading to unexpected outcomes. It suggests that many failures are simply stepping stones, opportunities that bring us closer to our goals. The essence of the poem is encapsulated in the lines that speak to the heart of perseverance – it’s in the most challenging moments, when everything seems to be against us, that giving up should be the last option.

“Success is failure turned inside out” – these words in the poem highlight a transformative perspective on failure. It’s a reminder that the line between failure and success is often thin and that persistence can tip the scales in our favor. Guest beautifully conveys the message that we are often closer to success than we think, and giving up could mean losing out on what might just be within our reach.

This poem is a call to embrace resilience and to remember that the darkest moments often precede success. It’s a testament to the human spirit’s incredible capacity to overcome and find strength even in the hardest of times.

About the Author: Edgar A. Guest

Edgar A. Guest | Poet
Edgar A. Guest, British-American Poet

Edgar A. Guest, often referred to as the “People’s Poet,” was born on August 20, 1881, in Birmingham, England. His family moved to the United States in 1891, marking the beginning of a life that would see him become one of the most beloved poets of his time. Starting as a copyboy for the Detroit Free Press in 1895, Guest quickly climbed the ranks to become a police writer and later an exchange editor. In 1904, he began writing verses for the Free Press under the column “Chaff,” which evolved into the immensely popular daily feature “Breakfast Table Chat.”

Guest’s poetry, characterized by its simplicity and optimistic outlook, resonated deeply with the American public. Over his career, he penned some 11,000 poems, which were syndicated in around 300 newspapers and compiled in more than 20 books. His works, such as “A Heap o’ Livin'” (1916) and “Just Folks” (1917), became best-sellers. 

Known for his sentimental and approachable style, Guest’s verses were a comforting presence in many households. He was also a notable figure in broadcasting, hosting a weekly Detroit radio show and later a television series. Edgar A. Guest passed away on August 5, 1959, leaving behind a legacy as a poet who captured the everyday joys and struggles of ordinary people.

(Source: Britannica.com)

Key Takeaways from the Poem

Don’t Quit” by Edgar A. Guest offers several key takeaways that are as relevant today as they were when first penned:

  1. Persistence Through Hard Times: The poem encourages readers to keep going, even when things are tough and the path seems steep and challenging.
  2. Hope in the Face of Adversity: Guest’s words remind us that life is full of unexpected turns, and what may seem like a setback could be a setup for a comeback.
  3. The Thin Line Between Success and Failure: The poem beautifully illustrates how failure is often just a step away from success. It teaches us to view our setbacks as potential stepping stones to our goals.
  4. Resilience is Key: Emphasizing resilience, the poem urges us to stand strong in the face of adversity, suggesting that our hardest times could be precursors to success.
  5. Never Underestimate How Close You Are to Achieving Your Goals: A powerful message from the poem is that we often don’t know how close we are to success, and giving up too soon could mean missing out on achieving our dreams.

Don’t Quit” remains a timeless masterpiece, reminding us of the power of perseverance and the importance of maintaining hope and resilience in the face of life’s challenges.

Guest’s Legacy and Influence

Edgar A. Guest’s legacy extends far beyond the realms of traditional poetry. His straightforward and heartfelt verses have earned him a special place in the hearts of readers across generations. 

Guest’s work, often centered around themes of perseverance, family, and everyday courage, has a unique ability to connect with people’s everyday experiences. His influence can be seen in various aspects of popular culture, including television, radio, and even advertising, where his poems have been used to inspire and uplift.

Guest’s style, sometimes criticized for its simplicity, has also been lauded for its accessibility. He wrote for the common person, making poetry an inclusive and relatable art form. His impact is evident in how his poems, like “Don’t Quit,” continue to be referenced in motivational speeches, self-help books, and educational materials. 

His work remains a source of comfort and inspiration, reminding us of the value of optimism and the enduring human spirit.


“Don’t Quit” by Edgar A. Guest is a life lesson encapsulated in verse. Its timeless message of persistence, resilience, and hope continues to resonate with readers around the world. 

Guest’s ability to express profound truths in simple language has made this poem a cherished piece for those seeking encouragement and strength. 

As we navigate the complexities of modern life, the enduring message of “Don’t Quit” serves as a reminder that no matter the obstacles we face, the spirit to persevere can make all the difference. Edgar A. Guest’s work reminds us that in the journey of life, the power to keep moving forward lies within each of us.

Success Minded

Writer & Motivator with a goal of Inspiring and Helping 1 Million people across the globe to reach their goals. Join the largest self-improvement community on Twitter (700K+) over at @_SuccessMinded_

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