Edgar Albert Guest

(20 August 1881 - 5 August 1959 / Birmingham / England)

The Thumbed Collar - Poem by Edgar Albert Guest

Go up and change your collar,' mother often says to me,
'For you can't go out in that one, it's as dirty as can be.
There are splotches on the surface where they very plainly show.'
'That is very queer,' I answer, 'it was clean an hour ago.'
But I guess just what has happened, and in this it's clearly summed:
He who lets a baby love him often gets his collar thumbed.

I've been dressed up for a dinner, in a shirt of snowy white,
And I've stooped to kiss the rascal, and his arms have held me tight;
I have clasped him to my bosom as he gooed and gurgled, then
I have found it necessary that I change my shirt again.
For the snowy, spotless surface, with some sticky sweet was gummed.
He who lets a baby love him often gets his linen thumbed.

I have gone downtown o' mornings thinking I was clean and neat,
And have had some kind friend stop me as I walked along the street
With the startling information that I wore a collar soiled,
As he saw the prints and traces where those little thumbs had toiled;
And I've made this explanation—it's a song I long have hummed—
He who loves a little baby often get his collar thumbed.

And I'm rather proud I reckon, to have people here allude
To the prints upon my collars; they're my badge of servitude.
They're the proudest marks I carry, and I really dread the day
When there'll be no sticky fingers, when I start to go away,
To reach up and soil my neckwear; and my heart sometimes is numbed
When I think the day is coming when my collars won't be thumbed.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, August 25, 2014

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