Robert Service Poems

  • 1.  
    ‘Why keep a cow when I can buy,'
    Said he, ‘the milk I need,'I wanted to spit in his eye
  • 2.  
    This crowded life of God's good giving
    No man has relished more than I;I've been so goldarned busy living
  • 3.  
    Folk ask if I'm alive,
    Most think I'm not;Yet gaily I contrive
  • 4.  
    Aye, Montecelli, that's the name.
    You may have heard of him perhaps.Yet though he never savoured fame,
  • 5.  
    That boy I took in the car last night,
    With the body that awfully sagged away,And the lips blood-crisped, and the eyes flame-bright,
  • 6.  
    How often do I wish I were
    What people call a character;A ripe and cherubic old chappie
  • 7.  
    Clorinda met me on the way
    As I came from the train;Her face was anything but gay,
  • 8.  
    If starry space no limit knows
    And sun succeeds to sun,There is no reason to suppose
  • 9.  
    Three times I had the lust to kill,
    To clutch a throat so young and fair,And squeeze with all my might until
  • 10.  
    Let us be thankful, Lord, for little things-
    The song of birds, the rapture of the rose;Cloud-dappled skies, the laugh of limpid springs,
  • 11.  
    I deem that there are lyric days
    So ripe with radiance and cheer,So rich with gratitude and praise
  • 12.  
    I'm just a mediocre man
    Of no high-brow pretence;A comfortable life I plan
  • 13.  
    Why need we newer arms invent,
    Poor peoples to destroy?With what we have let's be content
  • 14.  
    You make it in your mess-tin by the brazier's rosy gleam;
    You watch it cloud, then settle amber clear;You lift it with your bay'nit, and you sniff the fragrant steam;
  • 15.  
    There's sunshine in the heart of me,
    My blood sings in the breeze;The mountains are a part of me,
  • 16.  
    I ran a nail into my hand,
    The wound was hard to heal;So bitter was the pain to stand
  • 17.  
    After working hard all day
    In the office,How much worse on homeward way
  • 18.  
    How grand the human race would be
    If every man would wear a kilt,A flirt of Tartan finery,
  • 19.  
    Brave Thackeray has trolled of days when he was twenty-one,
    And bounded up five flights of stairs, a gallant garreteer;And yet again in mellow vein when youth was gaily run,
  • 20.  
    Ho! we were strong, we were swift, we were brave.
    Youth was a challenge, and Life was a fight.All that was best in us gladly we gave,
  • 21.  
    Deeming that I were better dead,
    “How shall I kill myself?” I said.Thus mooning by the river Seine
  • 22.  
    No, Bill, I'm not a-spooning out no patriotic tosh
    (The cove be'ind the sandbags ain't a death-or-glory cuss).And though I strafes 'em good and ‘ard I doesn't ‘ate the Boche,
  • 23.  
    It isn't the foe that we fear;
    It isn't the bullets that whine;It isn't the business career
  • 24.  
    Hark to the Sourdough story, told at sixty below,
    When the pipes are lit and we smoke and spitInto the campfire glow.
  • 25.  
    Alas! I am only a rhymer,
    I don't know the meaning of Art;But I learned in my little school primer
  • 26.  
    I'm sitting by the fire tonight,
    The cat purrs on the rug;The room's abrim with rosy light,
  • 27.  
    They dumped it on the lonely road,
    Then like a streak they sped;And as along the way I strode
  • 28.  
    Some carol of the banjo, to its measure keeping time;
    Of viol or of lute some make a song.My battered old accordion, you're worthy of a rhyme,
  • 29.  
    Because I was a woman lone
    And had of friends so few,I made two little ones my own,
  • 30.  
    Out of the wood my White Knight came:
    His eyes were bright with a bitter flame,As I clung to his stirrup leather;
  • 31.  
    As I was saying . . . (No, thank you; I never take cream with my tea;
    Cows weren't allowed in the trenches-got out of the habit, y'see.)As I was saying, our Colonel leaped up like a youngster of ten:
  • 32.  
    The chapel looms against the sky,
    Above the vine-clad shelves,And as the peasants pass it by
  • 33.  
    I am a stout materialist;
    With abstract terms I can't agree,And so I've made a little list
  • 34.  
    We bore him to his boneyard lot
    One afternoon at three;The clergyman was on the spot
  • 35.  
    Singing larks I saw for sale-
    (Ah! the pain of it)Plucked and ready to impale
  • 36.  
    He took the grade in second-quite a climb,
    Dizzy and dangerous, yet how sublime!The road went up and up; it curved around
  • 37.  
    You see that sheaf of slender books
    Upon the topmost shelf,At which no browser ever looks,
  • 38.  
    They brought the mighty chief to town;
    They showed him strange, unwonted sights;Yet as he wandered up and down,
  • 39.  
    Should you preserve white mice in honey
    Don't use imported ones from China,For though they cost you less in money
  • 40.  
    (Retold in Rhyme)

  • 41.  
    An olive fire's a lovely thing;
    Somehow it makes me think of SpringAs in my grate it over-spills
  • 42.  
    Oh I am neither rich nor poor,
    No worker I dispoil;Yet I am glad to be secure
  • 43.  
    Black ants have made a musty mound
    My purple pine tree under,And I am often to be found,
  • 44.  
    I do not swear because I am
    A sweet and sober guy;I cannot vent a single damn
  • 45.  
    A-sitttin' on a cracker box an' spittin' in the stove,
    I took a sudden notion that I'd kindo' like to rove;An' so I bought a ticket, jest as easy as could be,
  • 46.  
    Don't jeer because we celebrate
    Armistice Day,Though thirty years of sorry fate
  • 47.  
    He gave a picture exhibition,
    Hiring a little empty shop.Above its window: FREE ADMISSION
  • 48.  
    When I was daft (as urchins are),
    And full if fairy lore,I aimed an arrow at a star
  • 49.  
    As nothingness draws near
    How I can seeInexorably clear
  • 50.  
    The Countess sprawled beside the sea
    As naked a she well could be;Indeed her only garments were
Total 831 poems written by Robert Service

Poem of the day

Oina-Morul
 by James Macpherson

After an address to Malvina, the daughter of Toscar, Ossian proceeds to relate his own expedition to Fuà¤rfed, an island of Scandinavia. Mal-orchol, king of Fuà¤rfed, being hard pressed in war by Ton-thormod, chief of Sar-dronto (who had demanded in vain the daughter of Mal-orchol in marriage,) Fingal sent Ossian to his aid. Ossian, on the day after his arrival, came to battle with Ton-thormod, and took him prisoner. Mal-orchol offers his daughter, Oina-morul, to Ossian; but he, discovering her passion for Ton-thormod, generously surrenders her to her lover, and brings about a reconciliation between the two kings.



As flies the inconstant sun over Larmon's grassy hill so pass the tales of old along my soul by night! When bards are removed to their place, when harps are hung in Selma's hall, then comes a voice to Ossian, and awakes his soul! It is the voice of years that are gone! they roll before me with all their deeds! I seize the tales as they pass, and pour them forth in song. Nor a troubled stream is the song of the king, it is like the rising of music from Lutha of the strings. Lutha of many strings, not silent are thy streamy rocks, when the white hands of Malvina move upon the harp! Light of the shadowy thoughts that fly across my soul, daughter of Toscar of helmets, wilt thou not hear the song? We call back, maid of Lutha, the years that have rolled away! It was in the days of the king, while yet my locks were young, that I marked Con-cathlin on high, from ocean's nightly wave. My course was towards the isle of Fuà¤rfed, woody dweller of seas! Fingal had sent me to the aid Mal-orchol, king of Fuà¤rfed wild: for war was around him, and our fathers had met at the feast.

In Col-coiled I bound my sails. I sent my sword to Mal-orchol of shells. He knew the signal of Albion, and his joy arose. He came from his own high hall, and seized my hand in grief. "Why comes the race of heroes to a falling king? Ton-thormod of many spears is the chief of wavy Sar-dronlo. He saw and loved my daughter, white-bosomed Oina-morul. He sought. I denied the maid, for our fathers had been foes. He came with battle to Fuà¤rfed; my people are rolled away. Why comes the race of heroes to a falling king?"

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