Though Guest wrote much about America, it's worth noting that the U.S. was not his home by birth. Guest was actually born in England in 1881 and immigrated to the United States along with his family ten years later. Just four years after his first poem was published, however, Guest became a naturalized U.S. citizen, making America his homeland by choice. Ultimately, his writing would earn him the title of the People's Poet.
I'd like to be the sort of man the flag could boast about;
I'd like to be the sort of man it cannot live without;
I'd like to be the type of man
That really is American:
The head-erect and shoulders-square,
Clean-minded fellow, just and fair,
That all men picture when they see
The glorious banner of the free.
I'd like to be the sort of man the flag now typifies,
The kind of man we really want the flag to symbolize;
The loyal brother to a trust,
The big, unselfish soul and just,
The friend of every man oppressed,
The strong support of all that's best,
The sturdy chap the banner's meant,
Where'er it flies, to represent.
I'd like to be the sort of man the flag's supposed to mean,
The man that all in fancy see wherever it is seen,
The chap that's ready for a fight
Whenever there's a wrong to right,
The friend in every time of need,
The doer of the daring deed,
The clean and generous handed man
That is a real American.
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