This enduring narrative was written in 1934 by Dale Wimbrow, an author, songwriter, artist, writer, singer, and painter. He left this world at the very young age of 58 in 1954. In honor of their love and respect for their father, his son and daughter have given permission to any and all to share this particular poem as long as it’s duplicated precisely as it was written and their father is credited.
Over the years, many thought the last word in the first line was a typo and therefore simply changed it from “pelf” to “self,” which appeared to be the obvious replacement. The author actually meant to use the word “pelf,” which means money, wealth, or riches … and that word obviously makes sense. The author’s offspring also points out that, over the years, many people have renamed the poem “The Man in the Glass” but go on to point out that their father’s original title utilized the term “Guy” rather “Man.”
After what seems like an eternity of exposure to our current Presidential candidates, I can’t help but wonder how each of them might respond to this classic poem. I can easily surmise how they might verbally comment to potential voters, but it would be interesting to know how each would truly respond to this powerful challenge. What do you think?
And how about you?
The Guy in the Glass
When you get what you want in your struggle for pelf,
And the world makes you King for a day,
Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that guy has to say.
For it isn’t your Father or Mother or Wife,
Who judgement upon you must pass.
The feller whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the guy staring back from the glass.
He’s the feller to please, never mind all the rest,
For he’s with you clear up to the end,
And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the guy in the glass is your friend.
You may be like Jack Horner and “chisel” a plum,
And think you’re a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum
If you can’t look him straight in the eye.
You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you’ve cheated the guy in the glass!
About Harry K. Jones
Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.
Our teacher turned us on to your blog and we’ve discussed several of your articles in class. I’ve got my parents reading your stuff now. I just thought you’d be interested in the fact that my Dad is our high school baseball coach and has a framed copy of The Guy In The Glass hanging on the wall in the locker room. It’s been there for over 12 years now and a lot of athletes have read it and tried to live up to it, win or lose. Dad said it’s been around for a very long time. Thanks for all the good reads.
Daniel A. Norris
Thanks for taking the time to drop us a note. Kudos to your teacher for sharing our blog content with your class. I hope you find our articles worthwhile in your personal quest for success.
Your Dad was certainly on the money with his comment about this poem being around for a long time. I’ve heard of many others who have, at one time, had it hanging in their locker rooms. It’s really a noble message. I wish we could hang a copy in Congress.
Thanks again for your note.
Harry K. Jones