On Quitting

Edgar Albert Guest

How much grit do you think you've got?

How much grit do you think you’ve got?

Can you quit a thing that you like a lot?

You may talk of pluck; it’s an easy word,

And where’er you go it is often heard;

But can you tell to a jot or guess

Just how much courage you now possess?

You may stand to trouble and keep your grin,

But have you tackled self-discipline?

Have you ever issued commands to you

To quit the things that you like to do,

And then, when tempted and sorely swayed,

Those rigid orders have you obeyed?

Don’t boast of your grit till you’ve tried it out,

Nor prate to men of your courage stout,

For it’s easy enough to retain a grin

In the face of a fight there’s a chance to win,

But the sort of grit that is good to own

Is the stuff you need when you’re all alone.

How much grit do you think you’ve got?

Can you turn from joys that you like a lot?

Have you ever tested yourself to know

How far with yourself your will can go?

If you want to know if you have grit,

Just pick out a joy that you like, and quit.

It’s bully sport and it’s open fight;

It will keep you busy both day and night;

For the toughest kind of a game you’ll find

Is to make your body obey your mind.

And you never will know what is meant by grit

Unless there’s something you’ve tried to quit.


This poems answers the question "do you have grit?", and more importantly, "what is grit? ". It is a poem about an individual's integrity, courage, self-discipline, and one's willpower to quit something they like to do. It is a poem that inspires people to buckle down and get things done, to practice self-control, and their ability to do something even if they do not necessarily want to do it. It is a call against distractions and procrastination to push yourself to advance to new heights. It casts down quitting as a quality of the weak and grit as part of the nature of strong individuals.

"And you never know what is meant by grit

Unless there's something you've tried to quit."


The theme of this poem is grit. Hard work, self discipline, courage and self-control. It makes the point of how tough it is to quit things you like to do or to sacrifice things that you like to do to spend time to work and make yourself better at something. By doing this someone finds the meaning of grit.

The People's Poet

Edgar Albert guest was born in Birmingham, England in 1881 and died in Detroit, Mi in 1959. Working for the Detroit free press, he wrote many inspiring and optimistic poems and became known as the People's Poet because his poems were so popular in the first half of the twentieth century. Some of his most celebrated poems are "See it Through", "On Quitting" and "It Couldn't Be Done".
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* Read noun definition for Pluck

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