Treasure Island

Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

A Verseman's Apology


Alas! I am only a rhymer,
I don't know the meaning of Art;
But I learned in my little school primer
To love Eugene Field and Bret Harte.
I hailed Hoosier Ryley with pleasure,
To John Hay I took off my hat;
These fellows were right to my measure,
And I've never gone higher than that.

The Classics! Well, most of them bore me,
The Moderns I don't understand;
But I keep Burns, my kinsman before me,
And Kipling, my friend, is at hand.
They taught me my trade as I know it,
Yet though at their feet I have sat,
For God-sake don't call me a poet,
For I've never been guilty of that.

A rhyme-rustler, rugged and shameless,
A Bab Balladeer on the loose;
Of saccarine sonnets I'm blameless,
My model has been - Mother Goose.
And I fancy my grave-digger griping
As he gives my last lodging a pat:
"This guy wrote McGrew;
'Twas the best he could do" . . .
So I'll go to my maker with that.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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